UVM gets $5.5 million to launch integrative health center

Integrative Health Center to Bring Innovation, Greater Accessibility, and Higher Quality of Life to Vermonters

Vermont Business Magazine The University of Vermont announced a broad, new initiative today that will deliver innovative, transdisciplinary, evidence-based healthcare practices to our region. Funded by a $5.5 million grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Osher Center for Integrative Health at UVM will dramatically advance whole patient care, research, education, and health policy centered on treatments that incorporate proven methods from a variety of fields complementing allopathic (conventional) medicine.

“The Osher Center will help to greatly advance our focus on serving the people of Vermont and beyond,” said UVM President Suresh Garimella. “As a research and education hub for integrative health, this new center will help us fulfill our strategic imperatives of serving Vermont, investing in distinctive research strengths, and ensuring student success. We are grateful for the Osher Foundation’s continued confidence and their generous new investment in UVM’s and Vermont’s future.”

An established leader in integrative clinical and educational programs, UVM joins an international collaborative network of ten academic institutions—ranging from Harvard and Northwestern to the University of Washington and UC San Francisco—as a center of excellence in integrative health aimed at improving patient care and well-being.

“We are delighted to have the University of Vermont become a member of the Osher Collaborative for Integrative Health given the institution’s reputation as a champion of integrative care and because of the close collaborations among its several health sciences operations,” said Mary Bitterman, president of The Bernard Osher Foundation. “UVM has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to our mission of improving quality of life and has the expertise and innovative culture to affect sustainable, meaningful change in the areas of health and well-being.”

“This grant has the potential to improve the lives of many patients in Vermont and Northern New York. As the academic medical center for our region, we are proud to collaborate with The University of Vermont on this new designation,” said UVM Medical Center President and Chief Operating Officer Stephen Leffler, M.D. “All of the communities served by the UVM Health Network will benefit from the innovation made possible with this partnership, supporting our mission to provide high-quality care that improves people’s lives.”

Integrative health practices empower patients to take more control of their own quality of life rather than relying solely on pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures.

For example, the UVM Medical Center’s Comprehensive Pain Program—led by Jon Porter, M.D., division chief of comprehensive pain management—has earned national attention for both its use of a transdisciplinary integrative clinical team addressing chronic pain and a novel bundle system which allows for payment of integrative services not traditionally covered by health plans. Porter will direct the new center.

“The national movement towards integrative care brings everything to the table that we know about the proven benefits of a wide range of therapies including acupuncture, mindfulness, movement, reiki, nutrition, and culinary medicine,” Porter said.

Interest in integrative care has grown as healthcare systems and individual providers search for effective value-based solutions for a wide range of chronic conditions in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Integrative approaches have captured the attention of healthcare systems as they demonstrate more positive outcomes at a lower cost than some traditional approaches.

The policy arm of the center will capitalize on Vermont’s health care reform progress with the goal of achieving greater health equity, particularly in rural and underserved communities. Research that has shown promising results in urban areas will be tested in rural settings where people are located greater distances from their healthcare providers.

“UVM and UVM Medical Center have an important leadership role in the delivery of care in our region and the conversation about making quality care more accessible to the community,” said Patricia Prelock, UVM provost and senior vice president.

The Osher Center will report to Prelock, who is also former dean of UVM’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences and an internationally recognized researcher in the study of autism spectrum disorders. In addition to Porter’s appointment as center director, the center’s leadership team includes Cara Feldman-Hunt, associate director; Kim Dittus, M.D., medical director of oncology supportive services; and Karen Westervelt, Ph.D., educational program director.

The Osher Center will include practitioners, faculty members, researchers, and students from UVM’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Larner College of Medicine. And it will serve the patient populations and clinics of the UVM Medical Center, the UVM Cancer Center, and the entire UVM Health Network. Together, patient care, research, and teaching under the UVM umbrella extends beyond Vermont’s borders into New York and other New England states.

“The Osher Center represents a rare and important opportunity to come together as ‘One UVM’ in the interest of the people in our immediate community and throughout Vermont,” said Prelock. “It will showcase UVM at its best—building a healthier society.”

Plans for the new center include facilities on the main Burlington campus and in UVM Medical Center offices in South Burlington. The center is expected to launch later this year.

About the University of Vermont

Since 1791, the University of Vermont has worked to move humankind forward. UVM’s strengths align with the most pressing needs of our time: the health of our societies and the health of our environment. Our size—large enough to offer a breadth of ideas, resources, and opportunities, yet intimate enough to enable close faculty-student mentorship across all levels of study—allows us to pursue these interconnected issues through cross-disciplinary research and collaboration. Providing an unparalleled educational experience for our students, and ensuring their success, are at the core of what we do. As one of the nation’s first land grant universities, UVM advances Vermont and the broader society through the discovery and application of new knowledge.

“UVM” is an abbreviation of the Latin Universitas Viridis Montis (in English, University of the Green Mountains).

BURLINGTON, Vt. — The University of Vermont 6.23.2022