East-West Collaboration Brings Top Chinese Health Official to Campus
Chinese Vice Minister of Health Dr. Wang Guoqiang and a six-person delegation on a four-day U.S. trip chose UCLA as the only academic medical center to visit to learn how traditional Chinese medicine and integrative medicine are practiced as a new health care model in this country.
By Judy Lin for UCLA Today
Representing a 5,000-year history of traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese Vice Minister of Health Dr. Wang Guoqiang and a six-person delegation came to campus June 11 to see what they could learn from UCLA, which has long been at the forefront of research in integrative medicine and education in the western world. Integrative medicine combines mainstream with alternative medical practices.
The Chinese delegation, which had a four-day stay in the U.S., chose UCLA as the only academic medical center to visit to learn how traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and integrative medicine are practiced as a new health care model.
Wang met with Dr. Eugene Washington, vice chancellor for health sciences and dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine, and Dr. Ka-Kit Hui, the Wallis Annenberg Professor of Integrative East West Medicine and director of the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. Also taking part were faculty researchers who have extensively studied acupuncture, massage, nutrition and other aspects of TCM.
"We are so honored to have you here to appraise the development of Chinese medicine and integrated medicine in the United States through our eyes at UCLA," Hui said. "We also have much to learn from China."
Wang is the highest-ranking official in China overseeing the development of Chinese medicine and integrated medicine. In 2008, he co-signed, with former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, an historic memorandum of understanding to foster collaboration between scientists in both countries in research on integrative and traditional Chinese medicine.
Washington noted that UCLA's longstanding excellence in integrative medicine, including research well supported by funding by the National Institutes of Health, "involves people from across our campus in medicine, public health, nursing, psychology, psychiatry and in the arts as well." Experts in all of these varied disciplines participate in the UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine.
With partnerships between UCLA researchers and clinicians with colleagues in China dating back to the 1960s, Washington said, "We have benefited from the expertise, experience and knowledge that our colleagues in China have shared with us over many decades. In fact, some of our innovations" — such as use of Tai Chi practices in medical treatment — "were based on things that we borrowed from our colleagues in China."
Wang, through an interpreter, said, "It is remarkable that UCLA — which is obviously a very important university in the world — has embarked on the integration of the best of western medicine with traditional Chinese medicine to create a new health model based on the strength of both healing traditions."
These efforts, Washington noted, stem from the fact that, at UCLA, "We see ourselves as having an impact on communities, not just in the Los Angeles area, not just in California or the U.S., but worldwide."
Wang commended Western medicine for effectively safeguarding the health of people throughout the world. Yet Chinese medicine — which he described as "a holistic model that looks at the patient as a whole" rather than the "antagonistic" western model of combatting disease symptoms — will continue to play a crucial health care role not only for that country's 1.3 billion citizens but internationally.
Wang, Washington and Hui all agreed that in an increasingly global world, faced with factors such as aging populations and the challenges of ever-evolving infectious diseases, finding ways to integrate the best of medical knowledge and practice is the most promising approach to prevention and treatment. It may also be the most cost-effective, combining low-tech, low-cost TCM approaches such as acupuncture with the latest advances in western medicine.
Following the morning meeting, the Chinese delegation visited the Center for East West Medicine's clinic in Santa Monica to observe doctors' hands-on practice of integrative medicine.
The Center for East West Medicine is also collaborating with China to develop a comprehensive database of medical research integrating Eastern and Western medicine. It will be based at the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.