Research at The Osteopathic Research Center

We invite you to explore this section to learn more about the scope of research conducted at our center.

The ORC carries out a three-pronged research mission through which it conducts: clinical trials to explore the efficacy and effectiveness of osteopathic manipulation for different conditions, mechanistic research that evaluates the underlying mechanisms of action of osteopathic manipulation, and health services and policy research to determine and evaluate the unique practice characteristics of osteopathic physicians and to provide the scientific evidence to support osteopathic medicine. Since it was founded in 2002, the ORC has garnered more than $21 million to conduct and advance osteopathic research.

One area of the ORC's research portfolio focuses on conducting clinical trials on the efficacy of osteopathic manipulation. The OSTEOPAThic Health outcomes In Chronic low back pain: The OSTEOPATHIC Trial, led by ORC executive director and principal investigator, John Licciardone, DO, MS, MBA, concluded subject visits in January 2011. This study, funded by a K24 Midcareer Investigator grant (NIH: K24 AT002422) from the National Institutes of Health-National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is one of the largest clinical trials on spinal manipulation in the world. The main results from this study were published in the Annals of Family Medicine in March/April 2013. Additional financial support for this project was also received from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation.

Lisa M. Hodge, PhD, the ORC's Osteopathic Heritage Basic Science Research Chair, leads much of the In the mechanisms of action research for the ORC. Her work focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatments (OMT) at modulating the immune response during infection, inflammatory diseases and cancer. To date, studies conducted in Dr. Hodge's laboratory have shown that OMT increases lymph flow, leukocyte numbers, and mucosal derived lymphocytes in the thoracic duct. Furthermore, pilot studies indicate that OMT reduces pneumonia bacteria and tumors in the lungs. It is likely that by enhancing the lymphatic redistribution of lymphocytes, OMT increases pulmonary trafficking of leukocytes with biological activities; however, the exact mechanism by which OMT is protective in our model is still under investigation. The results obtained from these studies will provide an evidence base for the use or contraindication of OMT in patients with infection, inflammatory disease or cancer. This research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH: U19 AT002023, R01 AT004361), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA: 06-11-547, 08-11-573, 13-11-686), and by the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation. Dr. Hodge's research team also analyzes specific immunological biomarkers to determine if they increase or decrease in response to osteopathic manipulative treatment. Other mechanism of action research underway at the ORC includes working in conjunction with the University of North Texas Health Science Center's world-renowned Center for Human Identification and Institute for Investigative Genetics to determine if there are genetic differences in people who respond to treatment with osteopathic manipulation compared to those who do not.

One additional major project underway at the ORC cuts across several areas of research. The Consortium for Collaborative Osteopathic Research Development - Practice Based Research Network (CONCORD-PBRN) focuses on developing a practice-based research network across the country to conduct patient-oriented research. Our vision is that data from these projects will continue to build the evidence base for the clinical effectiveness of osteopathic treatmen, particularly in a primary care environment, help define the mechanisms of action and response to osteopathic treatment, and augment data available in national databases relative to the unique practice characteristics of osteopathic physicians. To learn more about CONCORD-PBRN, or to apply for membership in the network, please visit the CONCORD-PBRN page of this website.