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NCCIH welcomes five new members to advisory council

For Immediate Release:
Friday, February 8, 2019

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), part of the National Institutes of Health, welcomes five new members to the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health (NACCIH). This council serves as the principal advisory body to NCCIH, the lead federal agency for research on complementary and integrative health.

The NACCIH—composed of physicians, scientists, complementary health practitioners, and members of the public—represents a broad range of science and practice. Members each serve 4-year terms and meet three times per year to provide second-level peer review in consideration of NCCIH scientific program priorities and program balance. Members also offer advice and recommendations on the prioritization of complementary and integrative health research.

“We are delighted to welcome this distinguished group of leaders to our council,” said Helene M. Langevin, M.D., NCCIH director. “The center will greatly benefit from their expertise and experience, and I look forward to working with them as we continue to advance the field.”

New members include:

  1. Roni L. Evans, Ph.D., D.C., M.S., is research director of the Integrative Health and Wellbeing Research Program and an associate professor at the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Dr. Evans has extensive experience conducting randomized trials focused on the rigorous testing of complementary and integrative health interventions. A major focus has been comparative effectiveness research on conservative approaches for people struggling with musculoskeletal pain. She has been an investigator of several randomized clinical trials funded by NCCIH and the Health Resources and Services Administration. Currently, her work includes an NCCIH-funded study examining mindfulness for enhancing physical activity and well-being in middle- to older-aged adults. Dr. Evans received her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Northwestern Health Sciences University, her Ph.D. in clinical biomechanics from the University of Southern Denmark, and her master’s degree in clinical research from the University of Minnesota.
  2. Diana H. Fishbein, Ph.D., is professor of human development and family studies and director of the Program for Translational Research on Adversity and Neurodevelopment at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park. Her studies utilize transdisciplinary methods and a developmental approach to understand interactions between neurobiological processes and environmental factors and ways in which they influence intervention outcomes. The goal is to translate scientific findings to practice and policies designed to prevent mental health, emotional, and behavioral problems. Dr. Fishbein is also founder and chair of the National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives, an association that works to promote transfer of scientific knowledge to communities and policymakers. The funders of her research have included NCCIH, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the National Institute of Nursing Research. Dr. Fishbein holds a Ph.D. in criminology and psychobiology and a master’s degree in criminology from Florida State University.
  3. Richard E. Harris, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and an associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Rheumatology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr. Harris’s background is in basic science and clinical research in the field of complementary and integrative health. His recent investigations have focused on the role of brain neurotransmitters and their receptors in humans with chronic pain. Currently, he is studying the neurobiological mechanisms of both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments for chronic pain and fatigue conditions. Dr. Harris received his Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of California, Berkeley; is a graduate of the Maryland Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine; and holds a master’s degree in clinical research design and statistical analysis from the University of Michigan. He is past co-president of the Society for Acupuncture Research.
  4. Kendi Hensel, D.O., Ph.D., F.A.A.O., is an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth. She is 2018-19 president-elect of the American Academy of Osteopathy and in 2018 became a Fellow of that academy for exemplary scholarship in osteopathic medicine. Dr. Hensel is a board-certified physician and conducts research on the efficacy and mechanism of action of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), e.g., in an NCCIH-funded study on the physiologic and clinical effects of OMM in pregnancy. She received her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine and her Ph.D. in OMM clinical research and education from the University of North Texas Health Science Center. She completed a combined residency in family practice and neuromusculoskeletal medicine at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Maine.
  5. Justin L. Sonnenburg, Ph.D., is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology and the principal investigator of The Sonnenburg Lab, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, in California. Dr. Sonnenburg is interested in the basic principles that govern interactions within the intestinal microbiota and between the microbiota and the host, and his laboratory focuses on the role of the human gut microbiota on health. To pursue these aims, his team studies gnotobiotic (germ-free) mouse models and humans; they apply systems approaches, such as functional genomics, and use genetic tools for the host and microbes to gain mechanistic insight into emergent properties of the host-microbial superorganism. His awards include the NIH Director's New Innovator Award and the NIH Director's Pioneer Award as well as the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigators in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award. Dr. Sonnenburg received his Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of California, San Diego. Among his publications is The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health (Penguin Press), a book he coauthored with his wife and colleague, Dr. Erica Sonnenburg.


About the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):
NCCIH’s mission is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health approaches and their roles in improving health and health care. For additional information, call NCCIH’s Clearinghouse toll free at 1-888-644-6226. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook , and YouTube.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit