|April 11, 2001
PhD, Appointed Director for the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
Susan Folkman, PhD, UCSF
professor of medicine, has been named the new director of the Osher Center for Integrative
Medicine (OCIM) at the UCSF Mount Zion Medical Center. Folkman comes to the job with more
than 12 years of experience helping to build the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies
(CAPS) where she served as co-director.
Haile T. Debas, MD, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and vice chancellor for
medical affairs, announced the appointment.
"Dr. Folkman is a nationally and internationally recognized scholar who is an
expert on coping with stress," Debas said. "She brings to her new job
uncompromising, rigorous research standards, high personal and professional
integrity and infectious enthusiasm."
Folkman begins May 1, replacing Ellen Hughes, MD, PhD, UCSF professor of
medicine, who has served as the center's interim director. Hughes will now
serve as the OCIM's associate director of education. Folkman's main goal is to
bring together the best scientific and clinical minds at UCSF to shape the OCIM
"We want to develop a rigorous research program in complementary and
alternative medicine and produce high quality scientific evidence on what
works, for whom and under what conditions," she said. "We also want to develop
a rich, educational program for our students and for healthcare professionals
and create a clinical program that reflects the best science."
Despite the absence of concrete evidence on the effectiveness and safety of
alternative therapies, more people are turning to these modalities that include
herbs, acupuncture, meditation and aromatherapy. One study found one out of
three Americans use alternative therapies, making about 425 million visits
annually to alternative practitioners.
As a state supported institution, UCSF has a responsibility to put these
practices under scientific scrutiny and provide information to the public about
whether these treatments work, and if so, how, Folkman said.
"The grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation provides a truly rare and
wonderful opportunity for UCSF to respond to the growing demand from the
general public, medical students and health care professionals for evidenced-
based knowledge about complementary and alternative medicine," she said.
"UCSF has the scientific, clinical and educational talent to create a truly
The UCSF School of Medicine and the Bernard Osher Foundation established the
OCIM in 1998 with the mission to search for the most effective treatments by
combining non-traditional and traditional approaches that address all aspects
of health and wellness-biological, psychological, social and spiritual.
Researchers work to explain the biological mechanisms that may underlie
complementary therapies, examine the behaviors and beliefs associated with
their practice and explore how and if they can be harnessed to support
individual health. Some research initiatives include: herbal therapies for
breast cancer patients, lifestyle interventions for reversing coronary artery
disease, lifestyle and herbal treatments for prostate cancer, and studies
analyzing how women from different ethnic groups make decisions about using
alternative or conventional treatments.
The OCIM is the campus repository of all information related to
alternative/complementary/integrative medicine. Moreover, it has a commitment
to public education about alternative and complementary medicine and therapies
through local and national forums.
The OCIM core clinical and administrative activities are located at 1701
Divisadero Street on the UCSF/Mount Zion campus. "It's extremely exciting to
be a part of the future of the Mount Zion campus. It's dynamic," Folkman said.
"I think there is the opportunity for very productive collaborative
Folkman has been professor of medicine at UCSF since 1990. In 1994, she was
named co director of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS). She
received her PhD from UC Berkeley in 1979, where she remained as a research
psychologist until coming to UCSF and CAPS in 1988. While at Berkeley, she
worked closely with Richard Lazarus, a leading pioneer in stress research in
the U.S. They built a research program and published the book Stress Appraisal
and Coping, considered one of the most important books written in the field of
psychological stress and coping. Internationally-recognized for her theoretical
and empirical contributions to the field of psychological stress and coping,
Folkman has authored other publications that are among the most widely cited in
For the past 12 years, Folkman's research and work has focused on stress and
coping in the context of HIV and other chronic illnesses. Of particular interest to her is
how people who care for a loved one dying from AIDS handle stress and adjust after their
loved one dies from the disease.
"This research has to do with psychological, spiritual, and emotional aspects
of surviving when things are very hard. The work is very closely related to
the concept of integrative medicine," she said. "How people cope with severe
stress affects their physical, spiritual and emotional well being."
Folkman currently serves on the National Institutes of Health National Advisory
Mental Health Council and the NIH/Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council. She has
chaired or been a member of various NIH study sections, served on Institute of Medicine
and NIH workgroups and was co-chair of the American Psychological Association task force
on ethics in research with human participants. In 1997, she was awarded an honorary
doctorate from the University of Utrecht, in the Netherlands, for her contributions to
coping theory and research.
UCSF News Release
Leslie Harris, (415) 885-7277