Few things rankle doctors more than alternative (aka complementary, integrative, holistic, homeopathic, naturopathic) medicine. First came the misery inflicted by the ever-expanding celebrity of practitioners like Andrew Weil and Gary Null (and, for a while, even Radovan Karadzic). And now there is the arrival at the NIH feeding trough of the alternative medicine crowd, angling for a mouthful of the same research dollars that currently fund investigations like “the structural basis for translation termination on the 70S ribosome.”
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Though initially caught flat-footed, academic medicine rallied, as it always does when big bucks are on offer. After decades of belittling the alternative folk as a bunch of snake-oil salesmen and sleazeballs, academic medical centers suddenly realized that—guess what—they were big fans of the approach all along. Yale University is one of the latest brand-name institutions to go through the change. Last year, it joined 40 other medical schools in the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, and began the awkward dance that has characterized such mergers.