Ohio U. Partners with Chinese Universities to Study TCM
By Editorial Staff
Ohio University's College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-COM) has joined with nine Chinese medical institutions to form the Sino-American Consortium for Traditional Chinese Medicine. The agreement, which was announced by the university this spring, aims to unite Chinese and American researchers in the study of traditional Chinese medicine and its potential use in Western medicine.
"The focus of this partnership is to increase multinational cooperation in the study and practice of traditional Chinese medicine through affiliated research, education and scholarly activity," said Robert Glidden, president of Ohio University.
The formation of the consortium comes at a time when Americans are spending more time and money using alternative forms of care. Americans spend an estimated $4 billion on herbal remedies each year, and a 1998 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the number of U.S. patient visits to alternative care providers jumped from 427 million in 1990 to 629 million in 1997.
Ohio University is the only U.S. medical school involved in the consortium. The other members are: Beijing Chinese Medical University; Chengdu Chinese Medical University; the Chinese Medical Research Institute; Guangzhou Chinese Medical University; Heilongjiang University of Traditional Chinese Medicine; Hong Kong Baptist University; Shangdong Chinese Medical University; Shanghai Chinese Medical University; and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine of China.
The university was selected to participate in the consortium in part because it uses a number of principles already espoused in Chinese medicine, including an emphasis on disease prevention and complete patient care. More than a dozen similar agreements currently exist between the school and other educational institutions in China.
According to Dr. Bruce Dubin, an associate dean at Ohio University and the school's representative to the consortium, the partnership is designed to help U.S. medical students get a better understanding of the strengths and limitations of alternative therapies.
"We hope to make our students aware of the existence and extend of these alternative methods of treatment, and to improve communication and understanding in the physician-patient relationship," said Dr. Dubin.
As a way of increasing that understanding, the College of Osteopathic Medicine will incorporate a basic understanding of traditional Chinese medicine into its curriculum beginning next year. Elective rotations in China for OU-COM students are also being planned, as are lectures from visiting Chinese medical professionals.