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Leaving the Center in Good Hands

November 14, 2017
Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.
Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.

Director Emeritus
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View Dr. Briggs’ biographical sketch

I began my tenure at NCCIH with a listening tour to learn about the perspectives of various stakeholders, including researchers, advocates, and skeptics. As a nephrologist, I was first seen as an outsider. However, my experience as a physician caring for patients who were struggling with painful and debilitating symptoms greatly informed my perspective that the status quo was not enough. 

It’s been a privilege leading this venture, and I’ve learned a lot since arriving at the Center. NCCIH is doing incredibly important work. Through the years, we have funded important research along the continuum from basic mechanistic studies to pragmatic clinical trials. I am pleased that our research portfolio in mind and body research, and particularly in pain management, has contributed to the development of several clinical practice guidelines for pain. In fact, almost 30 percent of NCCIH’s research portfolio is focused on pain research.

Our focus on pain research is proving essential as our country faces the challenge of the current opioid crisis. This is in large part clearly a pain management crisis. It is my hope that NCCIH-funded research will continue to provide critical knowledge that reduces the number of people living with poorly controlled pain. This is essential. The burden of pain drives much of the misuse of opioids. When public health experts talk about having “all hands on deck” to address the opioid epidemic, researchers of nondrug alternatives to opioids for pain management must be involved. Exploring the efficacy of integrative approaches is an important piece of the puzzle. I see real value in a variety of complementary and integrative approaches to health—some traditional, some not—and an urgent need for new integrative care models that deliver better outcomes.

As I depart NCCIH and return to focus on nephrology, I want to express my appreciation for those who have advanced the work of the Center. We have worked together to find and fund the best science possible, and we have leveraged our resources through collaborations with other NIH institutes and centers, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense. I value your contributions.

I leave the Center in good hands—David Shurtleff, Ph.D., will serve as Acting Director, and Wendy Weber, N.D, Ph.D., M.P.H., has agreed to assist as Acting Deputy Director (as well as continuing her work as branch chief in NCCIH’s extramural research division). Our strong intramural program is being ably led by Catherine Bushnell, Ph.D. I am confident that this team will provide excellent leadership going forward. 


Comments are now closed for this post.

Allen and I deeply appreciate the support you’ve given to our efforts to improve the health care and quality of life of every TMJ patient through science. Best wishes for a gratifying future in kidneys!Terrie Cowley,  President & Co-Founder, The TMJ Association

Josie. Good luck with your next adventure.  Speaking for the Integrative Medicine research community, I want to thank you for your leadership over the past decade.  One major highlight was that the name was changed from NCCAM to NCCIH during your tenure.    Another highlight was NCCIH’s focus on pain management- as you note in your remarks.   Finally, your leadership across many of the NIH-wide initiatives helped to lend credibility to NCCIH and the interventions studied with NCCIH resources.  Be well!  Jeff

Congratulations & THANK YOU for your outstanding leadership, Josie!I want to share a few words from the perspective of a grateful Early Career Investigator. I received my K99/R00 “Pathway to Independence [PI]” award the same year you took the helm at NCCAM. That unique career development award funded several mindfulness studies, generated valuable pilot data that led to additional grants, supported numerous collaborative relationships, and provided training opportunities in psychophysiology, psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), sleep, advanced statistical modeling, treatment development, clinical trials, and the science & practice of mindfulness — ALL of which continue to influence my work to this day!The early career support I received from NCCAM (now NCCIH) during your tenure will most certainly have a career-long impact, and for that I am ever grateful.Best wishes as you ”integrate” back into Nephrology, and THANK YOU, again, on behalf of all the Early Career awardees!- Jeff G.

This page last modified November 27, 2017