The meeting point for European CAM researchers

To make progress in research, international collaboration is a must. Therefore, a regional interest group focusing on the European perspective (European Chapter) within ISCMR (International Society for Complementary Medicine Research) was established in November 2008 at the First European Congress for Integrative Medicine in Berlin.

“Since then we have launched a pan-European project to illustrate the situation of education, and we encourage our members to contact us with their needs and ideas. We think that our function as a platform will become really important in the long run, i.e. when the CAMbrella project will be finished in late 2012”, says Dr. phil. Corina Güthlin, Institut für Allgemeinmedizin, Frankfurt. Dr Güthlin is a member of the steering committee of the ISCMR European Chapter.

CAMbrella and the European Chapter share a common history. In Vienna in 2004, EURICAM, the “European Research Initiative on Complementary and Alternative Medicine”, was launched by Bettina Reiter and Susanne Schunder-Tatzber from “Wiener Internationale Akademie für Ganzheitsmedizin (GAMED)” in Austria.

The aim of EURICAM was to persuade the European administration to make CAM one of the relevant subjects for research in the upcoming framework research programme, FP7, as well as in future programs. Up to 17 researchers participated in the five EURICAM meetings, representing 8-10 countries. Besides, EURICAM also made an effort to include countries which were not well-known to the other participants, which was important as well.

“We had many discussions about e.g. legal procedures or how CAM is integrated or not integrated into the health system in the different countries. But when the Swiss participants presented an idea for a European approach in 2006, we were able to become concrete, as having a concrete proposal at hand facilitated the whole discussion a lot”, Corina Güthlin says.

“EURICAM psychologically did the right thing by bringing together all the different CAM people, but also by being physically present at all the important places to lobby. Besides other people, Wolfgang Weidenhammer (now the CAMbrella coordinator) also went to Brussels to make a potential CAM project known and to get advice on how to proceed. I am convinced that without these joined efforts, CAMbrella would never have become a reality”.

The EURICAM initiative became obsolete after CAMbrella was established, but it is still present on the web and is now linked to the European Chapter of ISCMR. The aim of the Chapter is to promote networking and joint research initiatives, being an umbrella platform for all ISCMR members within Europe.

But today it only takes a minute to find a fellow researcher at another institution via the internet, and a lot of research data are online too. Thus, does it make sense to set up an organisation in order to bring colleagues together – in the age of Web 2.5?

“I have been working in CAM research for 14 years, but I had never before crossed the path of a researcher from the Netherlands. With the European Chapter I easily became aware of the fact that indeed there are CAM researchers in the Netherlands! So, it is all about knowing each other, both from the list which can easily be consulted, but also in person from the annual meetings”, Corina Güthlin points out.

The address list of the European Chapter counts about 130 people, which is approximately half of the ISCMR members, and between 30 and 50 members gather regularly for the annual meetings.

The general meetings of the Chapter take place once a year, and the steering committee meets over the phone at least twice a year. The steering committee consists of Nicola Robinson, Wolfgang Weidenhammer, Ursula Wolf and Corina Güthlin.

The next meeting of the European Chapter will be in 2011. To participate in the education project, please visit .

Text: Jesper Odde Madsen