Don’t you just love it when reporters are non-biased? Me too, however, finding that is harder and harder. So it’s not a surprise that the LA Times is less than happy about the enormously generous gift, recently given to UC Irvine by Henry and Susan Samueli- who happen to believe in integrative medicine.

On Sept. 18 a $200-million gift was given the couple, making it the seventh-largest ever to a single public university. The money will be used “for a new building on campus to house the Samueli College of Health Sciences, which will incorporate UCI’s medical and nursing schools and planned schools of pharmacy and “population health” (that is, public health). But most of the money will be devoted to an endowment for up to 15 chairs for world-class faculty with “expertise in integrative health” and for the training of students in that curriculum.” 1

And this is what has a lot of people up in arms.

However, Howard Federoff, the university’s vice chancellor for health affairs believes some are too skeptical, “As physician scientists, we need to keep the broadest open mind to new ways to deliver care or monitor care or diagnose diseases.”2 We totally agree.

And UCI is in good company. Stanford and Johns Hopkins, have also added “elements” of integrative medicine to their curricula because people want it. You can not like the fact that acupuncture works but that doesn’t negate its effectiveness. Also, it existed and was used for thousands of years before a bunch of old, white American men decided it was useless.

(Be sure to carefully watch the words this video uses to describe anything outside the carefully controlled walls of Big Pharma directed medicine.)

However, the couple believes in homeopathy and want to encourage its study because it has worked for them. With this donation, the couple hopes to “try to develop some scientific evidence behind it, because it’s all anecdotal, and it would be nice to have a little firmer scientific basis.”3 Again, we totally agree.

Federoff says UCI’s medical program will be insulated effectively from the Samuelis’ personal beliefs and that they will have no voice in recruiting or choosing occupants of the endowed chairs (although it’s likely that at least one of them will be on an advisory board for the Integrative Health Institute).

While this donation will do a lot of good, its detractors are loud. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale and executive editor of the Science-Based Medicine blog said:

“Probably there are some people at UCI who think, ‘We’ll accept the money, and just do the science-based stuff like nutrition and massage. But you can’t promote homeopathy and naturopathy and also say you’re going to have high standards of science and evidence. They’re mutually incompatible.” 4

We’re all entitled to our opinion. After all, doctors used to recommend cigarettes!

Sources and References

  1. LA Times, September 22, 2017.
  2. LA Times, September 22, 2017.
  3. LA Times, September 22, 2017.
  4. LA Times, September 22, 2017.