In July 1999, representatives from eight academic medical institutions convened a historic meeting at the Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The working conference was titled: "The Consortium on Integrative Medicine" including representatives from Duke University, Harvard University, Stanford University, University of California, San Francisco, University of Arizona, University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts, and the University of Minnesota. These institutions came together because they:
The original purpose was to expand and further develop the field of integrative medicine. Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD observing the isolated activities of these few academic institutions and their leaders advancing these ideas, developed the concept of the Academic Consortium on Integrative Medicine. The initial vision espoused by Kabat-Zinn was as follows:
The idea was that the chancellors (or equivalent) of the medical centers where significant efforts in mind/body and integrative medicine were being made would meet on an occasional basis, along with the respective heads of those efforts at their institutions and one other associate of their choosing. The larger purpose of the meetings was to:
We became, as a group, strongly committed to moving the vision of integrative medicine forward through a process that is integrative and mindful in its approach, deepening not only our understanding of this approach to healthcare, but also recognizing that our experience of it is essential. This will remain a core value of the Consortium.
The second meeting was convened at the Miraval retreat center outside of Tucson, Arizona in September of 2000. Representatives from Albert Einstein/Yeshiva University, Georgetown University and Thomas Jefferson University now joined the original eight institutions. These institutions were selected based on the nature of the initiatives underway at those institutions, and the level of support for them within the academic administration. The group decided at that meeting to formally change the name to The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. The Philanthropic Collaborative for Integrative Medicine (PCIM) was also in attendance at the September 2000 meeting. The PCIM decided to support the efforts of the Consortium as well as an education curriculum grant for the Education Working Group.
The third meeting also took place at the Miraval retreat center, in January 2002. This meeting focused on establishing the formalities and logistics of the organization. Progress was made in creating by-laws and how best to institute a governing structure for the Consortium.
Brian Berman, MD of the University of Maryland was elected chair of the Steering Committee for a three-year term. He selected Aviad Haramati, PhD of Georgetown University to serve with him as the vice chair of the Consortium. Formation of sub-committees evolved: Steering and Membership, along with three working groups: Clinical Care, Education, and Research.
Since the January 2002 meeting, the Consortium has experienced exponential growth. Our membership has climbed from 11 to 69 institutional members throughout North America. The working groups have met on a monthly basis to advance medical school curricula, establish standards for research in integrative medicine, and integrate complementary treatments into clinical care.