Integrative Therapies Program and IIPAN

July 24, 2019

Columbia’s Integrative Therapies Program and its International Initiative for Pediatrics and Nutrition (IIPAN), both of which fall under the Center for Comprehensive Wellness at Columbia, are leading worldwide innovation in cancer care. The Center for Comprehensive Wellness at Columbia is the first program of its kind for children with cancer and blood disorders, offering integrative medicine and supportive care and helping patients manage their symptoms from diagnosis through recovery and beyond. 

Dr. Elena Ladas, director of the Integrative Therapies Program at Columbia, is pioneering research into the role of nutrition and the gut in pediatric oncology—a largely understudied area. Dr. Ladas and her colleagues are determining how the gut can be manipulated to improve cancer care, with the goal of improving quality of life and health outcomes for children undergoing cancer treatment. “There is a fair amount of data suggesting that the composition of our gut is associated with several side effects of cancer therapy. If we improve our understanding of how to manipulate the gut properly, this may lead to better health outcomes for our patients,” Dr. Ladas explains. Through both comprehensive nutritional assessment and guidance throughout treatment, and investigating ways to alter the microbiome in the gut, Dr. Ladas is changing clinical outcomes and reducing the risk of childhood obesity for children with cancer. 

The global arm of Columbia’s Integrative Therapies Program, the International Initiative for Pediatrics and Nutrition (IIPAN), is ensuring that optimal nutritional care is offered to every child with cancer, not just those in the United States. Partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO), IIPAN is introducing the important role of nutritional care in pediatric cancer treatment to low- and middle-income countries around the world. By making available scientific data explaining the impact of nutrition on children undergoing cancer treatment and training health care professionals on how to best provide nutritional guidance and intervention, Dr. Ladas’s team is revolutionizing the role of nutrition in cancer care around the globe.