SAR Conference 2015 Summary

On November 12-14, Ben Marx, MAcOM, LAc, Interim Director of Research, represented OCOM at the annual Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR) Conference at Harvard Medical School in Boston. The multiday international forum highlighted acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) research from around the world and fostered interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration among AOM researchers, practitioners, and policy makers. OCOM also supported the conference as a key Institutional Member and event sponsor.

The conference, Reaching across Disciplines to Broaden the Acupuncture Research Network, contained multiple plenary lectures that directly addressed current basic, clinical, and translational research in AOM.  Highlights included a session featuring Richard Harris, Irving Kirsch, and Ted Kaptchuk (“From Neuroimaging to Clinical Trials: The Changing Role of Placebo in Acupuncture Research”), which explored placebo research related to acupuncture and medicine, and another — “Advances in Mechanistic and Translational Acupuncture Research” — exploring acupuncture research in cardiovascular, reproductive, and metabolic disorders by Elisabet Stener-Victorin, John Loghurst, Takahiro Takano.

In addition to the plenary lectures, special panels comprised of the plenary speakers and a moderator allowed for deeper, facilitated discussion of the topics between panelists and the audience. Workshops offered guidance in performing meta-analyses and systematic reviews, designing mind-body East Asian medicine clinical trials, and a hands-on introduction to various high- and low-tech devices for capturing outcomes in acupuncture-related research.

On Saturday, November 14, the conference expanded to an unprecedented one-day event hosted jointly between the Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR) , Society for Integrative Oncology(SIO) and the Fascia Research Society (FRS). During the joint conference, experts in the fields of acupuncture, integrative oncology, cancer biology, and mechanobiology synthesized clinical and basic science research highlighting the importance of connective tissue in cancer biology, and the role of acupuncture in an integrated approach to health promotion and cancer prevention.

The interrelationship between these three fields was expressed at the conference by the following infographic:


Marx presented a research poster at the conference entitled “Effectiveness of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in the Management of Pain – A Prospective Cohort Study.” In brief, the study assessed four years of data collected with PROMIS questionnaires on patients treated for pain conditions in OCOM’s clinics. The study concludes that “statistically significant improvements in Global Physical Health, Physical Functioning and Pain Interference from Visit 1 to Visit 5 suggest that intern-delivered AOM is an effective intervention for the management of pain.”

The 2015 SAR conference, taking place at Harvard Medical School — one of the most respected and recognized medical institutions in the world — represents an important step in the growth of AOM in the West. In addition, the joint conference between the Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR), Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) and the Fascia Research Society (FRS) showcases the exciting cross-fertilization of ideas that is possible within the emerging integrative medicine movement.

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