This proposal is for a five-year Summer Institute on Integrative Health Equity and Applied Research (IHEAR). The overarching goal of the IHEAR training program is to build the capacity and diversity of the integrative medicine research workforce to advance health equity. Towards this goal, we propose an educational program that provides diverse learners with didactic, methodological, and applied training in integrative medicine research to reduce social disparities in health and healthcare. The IHEAR program will develop an initial pathway for skilled, dedicated integrative medicine researchers by creating an early on-ramp. The curriculum will include eight weeks of intensive training for eight predoctoral fellows recruited from a wide range of health professions doctoral programs (e.g., acupuncture, medicine, naturopathy, nursing, osteopathy, pharmacy, public health). The IHEAR program will include five components: (1) didactic training in social health and healthcare disparities and the under-developed role of complementary and integrative health approaches; (2) foundational research skills (e.g., formulating research questions, selecting research methods, interpreting evidence); (3) ethical issues (e.g., barriers to diversity and inclusion in clinical research, issues of cultural appropriation in integrative medicine); (4) professional career development; and (5) mentored, applied research projects. IHEAR will be developed and implemented by experienced faculty at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), leveraging the Osher Center's established T32 training program and the broader research and training infrastructure of UCSF.
To address persistent and growing health and healthcare disparities, efforts are urgently needed to build the capacity and diversity of the research workforce. Applying integrative health approaches to advance optimal health for all is a promising, but under-studied strategy. The proposed program will strengthen the research workforce by providing diverse, predoctoral learners with a much-needed career on-ramp: short-term, interprofessional research training in integrative medicine, focused on social disparities in health and healthcare.