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Complementary and Alternative Medicine

John A. Burns School of Medicine
651 Ilalo Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Tel: (808) 692-0909


R. Harrigan, EdD (Chair)—women’s health, health disparities
N. Apau, MD, MS—asthma
S. Berry, MD—family practice
A. Brown, PhD—nutrition
E. Cadman, MD—oncology, health disparities
K. Csiszar, PhD—ethnobotanicals, molecular biology
Z. Hammatt, MPhil, JD—ethics
T. Shintani, JD, MD, MPH—nutrition
K. Withy, MD—health services research, workforce development

The Academic Program

The State of Hawai‘i is an environment with the unique rich blend of cultures and ethnicities and many healing traditions, some of ancient origins. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAAM) takes on increased significance in Hawai‘i because the diverse population of the state uses these treatment modalities frequently.

The department is committed to conducting both basic and applied research related to complementary and alternative therapies in Hawai‘i and the Pacific region; educating the next generation of physicians and other healthcare personnel about the potential risks and benefits of complementary and alternative therapies; providing culturally competent care for people within the state of Hawai‘i by understanding the use of patterns of complementary care used by the Hawaiian population; facilitating the study of medicinal plants, including varieties unique to Hawai‘i and/or the Pacific Rim; and promoting health service research to assess the clinical and financial benefits–or lack thereof–of CAAM therapies for the Hawaiian population.

Models of integrative care teams strategically placed in Hawai‘i’s major hospitals, large medical groups and/or health maintenance organizations together with the development of relevant educational materials for clinicians, researchers, educators and consumers of health care is another major goal. Collaborations with other UH Manoa programs such as Korean and Chinese studies and Native Hawaiian and Health Ecology faculties will energize progress towards this goal to reduce and eliminate health disparities in Hawai‘i and improve the health of Hawai‘i’s people.

Graduate Study

A graduate program leading to the MS in biomedical sciences is offered, with an emphasis on clinical research for clinicians, researchers, educators and consumers. Clinical research is the study of methods used to investigate clinical problems in medicine. Available in Plan A (thesis), the program requires a combination of course work and original research, the latter forming the basis of the master’s thesis.

Students enrolled in the program acquire skills in biostatistics and epidemiology, and master the scientific principles that underlie clinical research methods. They develop the ability to identify and resolve ethical issues in clinical research, to ensure the safeguarding of human subjects, and to understand the workings of Institutional Review Boards and other relevant requirements. In addition, students increase their capacity in obtaining research funding from agencies such as the National Institute of Health.

In addition to offering knowledge and skills needed for careers in clinical research, the program functions as a supportive mechanism for newly trained investigators, actively facilitating career development and encouraging research collaborations, particularly those related to research on health disparities. By providing high quality training to doctoral and post-doctoral candidates, the program aims to increase the mass of clinical researchers at UH Manoa, including minority investigators. Targeting junior faculty, fellows, residents, and doctoral candidates from biomedical sciences, nursing, social work, psychology and public health, the interdisciplinary nature of the program broadens students’ perspectives and increases opportunities for innovative, cross-disciplinary collaborations in clinical research.
Graduates of the program pursue teaching careers in academia; as well as research careers in academia, government laboratories, and pharmaceutical companies. In addition, some graduates find employment in hospitals or private businesses.

The department also has a doctoral program leading to a PhD in biomedical sciences with a concentration in clinical research.

CAAM Courses