June 5, 2009
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HIT Update: The Osteopathic Research Center

The Osteopathic Research Center (ORC) is the premier research center in the nation focused on Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment(OMT), and it’s one of the newest additions to the Health Science Center’s Health Institutes of Texas. This winter, the ORC’s administrative offices moved into renovated space in in the  Center for BioHealth. The ORC continues its research in the largest clinical trial ever to evaluate osteopathic manipulation as a treatment for chronic low-back pain.

Current projects:

  • John  Licciardone, DO, MS, MBA, executive director of the ORC and Osteopathic Heritage Clinical Research Chair, is conducting the largest clinical trial to evaluate osteopathic manipulation as a treatment for non-specific chronic low back pain. The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health-National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NIH-NCCAM).

Another NIH-NCCAM-funded clinical trial focuses on the use of osteopathic manipulation to reduce back pain and improve delivery outcomes in the third trimester of pregnancy.

  • Lisa Hodge, PhD, Osteopathic Heritage basic science research chair and assistant professor of Molecular Biology and Immunology (GSBS ’01), is exploring ways in which osteopathic manipulative treatment affects the immune system, including beneficial effects on white blood cells and lymph flow through an RO1 grant awarded by NIH-NCCAM.
  • ORC physicians and scientists also are working to determine changes in pro- and anti-inflammatory substances in the blood of patients after they receive osteopathic manipulation.
  • Additional studies are looking at differences in the DNA of people who respond to osteopathic manipulation compared to those who do not.
  • By systematically reviewing literature, fielding population-based surveys and analyzing national health care databases, the ORC aims to determine the unique practice characteristics of osteopathic physicians and to conduct scientific studies to evaluate osteopathic medicine. Health services and policy research at the ORC provide evidence to develop clinical practice guidelines for OMT in conditions such as low back pain. One study explores the clinical practice characteristics of physicians at academic health centers and appears in the June 2009 issue of Academic Medicine.
  • Through its research education initiative, the ORC created and implemented innovative approaches to teaching medical students how to better understand scientific literature, discern the quality of a research article or study, and integrate research findings into patient care.
  • The ORC is developing and training a nationwide network of osteopathic physicians to conduct clinical research in their practices, which will broaden the evidence base for the use of OMT in managing specific conditions.

In November, the ORC will co-host the 2009 American Osteopathic Association Research Conference in New Orleans.  The conference, focused on genomics in osteopathic research, will feature presenters from around the country. For more information, visit www.do-online.org.

For more on the ORC, contact Cathleen Kearns, ORC administrative director, or visit the ORC Web site.

The ORC is one of 12 Health Institutes of Texas (HIT) at the UNT Health Science Center.  HIT is designed to speed research from the bench to the bedside to create a healthier and more productive Texas. Updates on each of the 12 HIT centers and institutes will be featured in future issues of Campus Connection.


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