More than 350 physicians, researchers, nurses, integrative medicine practitioners, patient advocates, and patients from 19 countries convened in Boston, Massachusetts, from November 14-17 at the 12th International Conference of the Society for Integrative Oncology.


Programs focused on the theme of integrative innovation and included several first-ever initiatives. SIO2015 was presented with the assistance of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Historic Joint Day

SIO2015 began with a historic joint day on the intersection of integrative oncology, acupuncture, and fascia at the Harvard Medical School in collaboration with the Society for Acupuncture Research and the Fascia Research Society, together with the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.

SIO programming for the next three days included three outstanding keynote presentations, plenary sessions, workshops, oral abstracts, posters, and more. Among attendees’ comments: “So much integrative work to learn about”; “I’m impressed with how many different ways we have to help people with integrative medicine - can’t wait to go back and start applying them”; “great talk on acupuncture and pain in cancer”; and “what an inspiring event.”
Topics featured in keynotes were “How to Counteract the Harmful Effects of Stress,” presented by Herbert Benson, MD, Director Emeritus, Benson-Henry Institute and Mind-Body Medicine Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; “Lifestyle Change: Diet and Exercise,” presented by Jennifer Ligibel, MD, Director of the Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and “Mind-Body Medicine in Integrative Oncology: An International Perspective,” presented by Claudia Witt, MD, MBA, Professor and Chair of the Institute for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, University Hospital Zurich and University of Zurich.

Luncheon programs featured Dr. Rogers Prize recipient, Sunita Vohra, MD, MSc, Professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, who discussed “Advances in Natural Health Product Research: New Ways to Answer Ongoing Questions About Safety and Drug Interactions,” and Heather Greenlee, ND, PhD, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, who spoke on “Adding a Cultural Ingredient to Cancer Patient Nutrition: Implementing Dietary Change Among Hispanic Breast Cancer Survivors.” These programs were supported, respectively, by the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation and the Weil Fund.

Plenary sessions focused on relationship-based patient-centered care; the state of the evidence in mind-body exercise and nutrition in cancer care; and mind-body oncology from mechanism to practice.

Interactive sessions

Another SIO first was a new investigator forum at which research experts and new investigators/trainees in integrative oncology exchanged ideas, information, feedback and guidance.

Oral abstract presentations included natural products - preclinical and clinical, mind-body medicine, acupuncture, yoga, and literature reviews, as well as “The Best of SIO” presentations. Among workshop topics were meditation practices along the cancer care continuum; three mind-body practices for health and healing; ketogenic diet as cancer therapy; care of cancer patients during radiation therapy; international collaborations on traditional Chinese medicine and cancer research; patient advocacy; integrative care management board; and career development. The poster session generated significant discussions. A participant commented, “It’s exhilarating to take part in the scientific poster session.”

Attendees had the opportunity to participate in three post-conference workshops on how to practice oncology acupuncture - the Dana-Farber experience; evidence-based practices and innovative clinical interventions through use of music therapy; and building patient-centered integrative oncology programs - from academic to community. Roundtable sessions on mind-body therapies, TCM/acupuncture, food as medicine, health policy, and translational pre-clinical studies were very popular. As a participant noted, “Breakfast roundtables were very thought-provoking.”

In a continuing tradition of supporting early investigators in the field of integrative oncology, SIO also hosted three research trainees, made possible through an R13 grant sponsored by the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute (NCI). In addition, the conference hosted six patient advocate scholars.

See you all in Miami on between November 5 and 7 for SIO 2016. Our theme will be, “Advancing Global Impact of Integrative Oncology.” Please stay engaged with SIO throughout the year to increase our membership and impact for the field of integrative oncology.