Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University

Research Studies

The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University is focused on clinical research that defines the value of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM) practices in disease care and wellness. Below is a selected list of our current active protocols.

CoordinatorPIStudy Description
Cailin Whisler
cailin.whisler( at )
Kim Feingold, PhD

The purpose of the ACUpuncture after HEART Surgery study is to see if acupuncture after heart surgery can prevent onset of atrial fibrillation (AF) and reduce pain, nausea and symptoms of depression. AF is an irregular heartbeat, which may cause symptoms such as pounding sensations in the chest, dizziness, fatigue, chest pain and/or shortness of breath and can cause blood clots to form in the heart. AF is one of the most common complications to occur after heart surgery. Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body. Acupuncture has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years for a variety of illnesses and has been shown to be effective for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in adults following surgery. Acupuncture seeks to release the flow of the body's vital energy or "chi" by stimulating points along 14 energy pathways. Scientists say the needles cause the body to release endorphins -- natural painkillers -- and may boost blood flow and change brain activity.

Veronika Grote
veronika-grote( at )
Bonnie Essner, PhD

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of Shadow’s Edge®, a mobile game developed to promote empowerment, enhance emotional resilience and encourage identity formation among adolescents and young adults with chronic health conditions. We predict that engagement with the game will enhance resilience, increase benefit-finding and life meaning and purpose, improve quality of life, and lead to more adaptive identity development among participants. Our novel design will examine daily fluctuations in negative and positive affect, emotion variability and physical wellness as youth use the game, and include a qualitative analysis of conceptual themes of participants’ journaling, as a nuanced assessment of mechanisms that contribute to these longitudinal improvements in well-being. The overall goal of our research program is to promote social, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness among adolescent and young adult cancer survivors through innovative programming relevant to their unique developmental and contextual needs.

Co-investigators: Edna Romero, PhD, Jennifer Reichek, MD, Joel E Frader, MD

Veronika Grote
veronika-grote( at )
Melinda Ring, MD

Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, has become sought after as an alternative to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as it appears to provide a number of therapeutic benefits without the alteration of consciousness associated with THC. A number of surveys of cannabis users have suggested that pain is the most frequent condition for which patients seek medicinal cannabis. It remains unknown at this time which cannabinoid is most effective and/or necessary for analgesia and relief of other symptoms. As such, we are investigating Cannabidiol in Pain and Symptom Management. Patients and dispensary clients will describe what CBD products they use, modes of delivery, what conditions they are treating, their perception of effectiveness and whether they have altered their use of any prescription medications, including opiates. Dispensary workers will have the opportunity to describe what CBD products they recommend for which conditions and why. The results of this cross-sectional multi-site observational pilot will be used to inform the design of a follow on trial which will prospectively investigate CBD in a condition for which it appears to have the most potential for benefit.

Co-principal investigators: Donald I. Abrams, MD; Gene Kallenberg, MD

K. Michael Brooks
kmbrooks( at )
Christina Boots, MD

An Integrative Therapeutic Approach for Treating Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common reproductive disorder in women, affecting 5-20% of all reproductive-aged women. PCOS is associated with a wide array of symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles, obesity, diabetes, and depression and effects women throughout their lives. Current treatment is modestly effective and not without side effects. Alternative treatment, such as acupuncture and herbal therapy as practiced in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has been successful in improving the individual symptoms of PCOS, including cycle regularity, facilitating weight loss, and reducing stress and depressive symptoms, with minimal to no side effects . In this study, will determine if TCM provides a higher quality of care to women suffering from PCOS, both in effectiveness and in acceptability.


Co-principal investigator: Melinda Ring, MD

Veronika Grote
veronika-grote( at )
Melinda Ring, MD

The goal of Examining the Effects of Juice Fasting is to determine the extent to which this recent health trend has an impact on epigenetic markers (methylation), gut bacteria, inflammation markers, measures of insulin resistance and patient reported outcomes of well-being. Specifically, it is an attempt to determine any differential effects on these outcomes from the juice itself as compared to any other restricted-calorie diet or as compared to the addition of juice to a regular diet. In this study, we will recruit 18-30 participants who will go on one of three diets for three days, and gather information from them up to two weeks after the conclusion of the diet.


Co-investigators: Lifang Hou, MD, PhD; Brian Joyce, PhD

Veronika Grote
veronika-grote( at )
Elfriede Pahl, MD

Resilience Intervention for Pre-Operative Stress and Emotion (ROSE) is a positive emotions course that teaches 8 skills to families of children on the wait-list for a heart transplant.  The intervention was designed by Dr. Judith Moskowitz and tested on several clinical populations. Her research shows that positive emotions can help people cope with stress, get through difficult times, and even have benefits for health. Each skill is delivered to the family unit in the hospital by trained facilitators.  We are testing the feasibility and acceptability of Dr. Moskowitz's positive affect intervention with this clinical population. We are also testing how the ROSE intervention impacts positive affect, anxiety, depression, and stress in the children and satisfaction and quality of life for the immediate caregivers. We are collecting data from 12 participants, following them until at least one month after their transplant.

Eva Shiu
eva.shiu( at )
Judy Moskowitz, PhD

Lessons in Affect Regulation to Keep Stress and Pain UndeR control (LARKSPUR) is an online-delivered positive affect skills intervention tailored for people living with chronic musculoskeletal pain to optimize effects on depression, adherence, and pain in conjunction with integrative or conventional treatments. LARKSPUR will be based on Dr. Judith Moskowitz's previously developed online positive affect intervention for people coping with a variety of health-related stress. In order to tailor the existing intervention, we will conduct focus groups and user tests with people living with chronic pain and consult with healthcare providers who commonly treat chronic pain. We will then conduct a randomized pilot trial of the tailored intervention in people seeking integrative treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain. In the final phase, in collaboration with BraveNet, a practice based research network, we will determine optimal sites for a future randomized trial based on patient base, integrative treatments offered, partner primary care sites, and electronic health records.

The study will lay the foundation for future implementation of LARKSPUR in integrative medicine and primary care clinics by selecting sites for a future high-quality, adequately powered trial of LARKSPUR as an adjuvant to integrative or conventional treatments for chronic pain.