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Dr. Eddie Phillips and the ILM Move to Joslin, Bringing New Opportunities to Incorporate Lifestyle Medicine Practices

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In 2012, Edward Phillips, M.D., Founder and Director of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine (ILM) and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School (HMS), attended the Healthy Kitchens course in Napa Valley, California, which teaches healthcare professionals how to create nutritious meals. Before Dr. Phillips went on stage to give his presentation, he met a cheerful guy in the front row named John, who happened to be John Brooks III, the President and CEO of Joslin Diabetes Center.

After speaking with Brooks, Dr. Phillips told him that he did, “not look like any other CEO I’ve met,” to which Brooks replied, “I’m not.”

It was this conversation as well as Dr. Phillips’ passion for lifestyle medicine that prompted Brooks and Martin Abrahamson, M.D., FACP, Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs at Joslin and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, to ask Dr. Phillips and the ILM to come join them at Joslin.

A year and a half later, this became a reality. The ILM is currently located at Joslin as part of the new Center for Integrative Health and Wellness.

The ILM, which was founded in 2007 at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and the HMS Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, aims to reduce lifestyle-related death and disease in society through clinician-directed interventions with patients.

“The ultimate mission is nothing short of transforming the practice of medicine so that we are engendering healthy behaviors rather than waiting for sickness and expensive things to happen,” explained Dr. Phillips.

The Institute’s mission is composed of four main channels, with the first being retrofitting America’s doctors by offering new curricular materials that clinicians did not receive in medical school, such as classes on nutrition, exercise and stress.

The second part of the mission is providing concrete materials to physicians that instruct them on how to bequeath the ideals of lifestyle medicine and personal health onto their patients. The next aspect of the mission is modifying the practitioner’s personal health, which helps inspire patients to change their own behaviors. The last part of the ILM’s mission is health coaching, or advising doctors on how best to motivate and coach their patients to instill healthier practices in their lives.

In an effort to execute their mission, Dr. Phillips and the ILM are currently involved with many projects, including offering additional online courses and materials, expanding their live courses, creating a certificate of completion in Lifestyle Medicine and working with Harvard Extension School to create an Advanced Certificate in Applied Coaching Psychology (evidence based practice and the science of counseling individuals to adopt and sustain behaviors).

As the director of the ILM, Dr. Phillips is charged with leading these initiatives.

“Basically my role is to accomplish all of the critical parts to the mission,” said Dr. Phillips. “In addition, I will be working with Dr. Abrahamson to develop the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness, and we are working with industry experts to conduct research on various tools. There will also be my teaching and advocacy roles, for which Joslin is a great brand to get our message out.”

Dr. Phillips and Dr. Abrahamson are also planning to open a treatment center at Joslin as part of the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness, which will provide a place for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or at risk for diabetes to receive evidence-based lifestyle medicine. This kind of care helps patients adopt and sustain healthier habits. This clinical center will also function as a training center for medical students, physicians and other healthcare professionals who are interested in training in lifestyle medicine. 

With the rise of the diabetes epidemic both within the U.S. and on a global level, the ILM’s move to Joslin comes at a time when people are becoming increasingly aware that it is important to embrace healthier lifestyle practices.

“I think the economics of what is going on with diabetes and [lifestyle-related diseases] are going to be what gets the government, employers and individuals to finally change,” said Dr. Phillips. “It’s undeniable that if we can help people adopt and sustain healthier behaviors then managing diabetes or preventing it altogether is going to be improved, and hopefully we can turn the tide on diabetes.”

Dr. Phillips and the ILM are invigorated with the opportunity to incorporate their goals into the larger Joslin mission of treating, preventing and curing diabetes.

“I’m impressed by how patient focused, driven and smart the people are here,” commented Dr. Phillips. “Joslin is made up of mission oriented folks who are willing to make changes and see new opportunities, which gives me even more hope and makes me excited about what I’m doing.”

He continued, “It comes down to how fast we can get the world to change.”

Page last updated: September 23, 2014