Barrie R. Cassileth

Barrie R. Cassileth
Barrie R. Cassileth
Chief, Integrative Medicine Service; Laurance S. Rockefeller Chair in Integrative Medicine
As a researcher, educator, and planner, I have worked in alternative and complementary (integrative) medicine and psychosocial aspects of cancer care for over 25 years. I came to Memorial Sloan Kettering in 1999 to create the Integrative Medicine Service, a multifaceted program that offers inpatient therapies at Memorial Hospital and outpatient services at the Bendheim Integrative Medicine Center. The Service's two-pronged research effort includes studies to evaluate the ability of specific complementary therapies to reduce important symptoms associated with cancer and cancer treatments, and the investigation of botanicals for potential anti-tumor effects. The Integrative Medicine Web site,, offers evidence-based information on herbs, vitamins, and unproved cancer treatments at no charge to professionals and the public.

When I first became interested in integrative medicine in the early 1980s, I was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Director of the U of P Comprehensive Cancer Center Psychosocial Programs. Little was known about the effects of complementary or alternative therapies, and through the first national survey of cancer patients use of unconventional methods and in later studies examining the clinical effects of these therapies, I documented the popularity and growth of CAM methods. I found that cancer patients were using a wide array of CAM therapies, some ineffective and useless, others very helpful. My research, clinical activities, and advocacy efforts since that time have aimed to alert patients and caregivers to the sometimes harmful therapies promoted incorrectly as viable cancer "treatments," and to ensure that helpful complementary therapies are available to patients as supportive care.

I am also actively involved in integrative medicine on a national and international level. I am Editor-in-Chief of the new Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology and am founding president of its international Society. I was a founding member of the Advisory Council to the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine, now called the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). After completing a term on the American Cancer Society National Board of Directors, I am now on the ACS Eastern Division Board. I also am a member of national ACS committees on complementary medicine, quality of life, and health promotions, and I serve on the ASCO Compendium Editorial Board and on many NIH and other federal and national panels and committees.

I have published extensively on integrative medicine and psychosocial aspects of cancer, and have lectured on these topics throughout North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, and Australia. I also developed prototypic programs in patient and family support, medical education, homecare and hospice, and research in integrative medicine while a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I have published 130 original papers in the medical literature and 48 books and chapters for physicians, patients, and families. At MSKCC, I am the principal investigator of several research studies funded by the National Institutes of Health and also head one of five NIH-supported Botanical Research Centers. Our Botanical Center investigates immune-modulating botanical supplements, their composition, and their mechanisms of action.

PhD, University of Pennsylvania

Clinical Expertise
Integrative Medicine

Department & Service

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