May 11, 2018

In Memoriam: Yale integrative medicine leader, Ather Ali, 1975-2017

We were grieved to read this past year that our colleague Ather Ali, ND passed away from metastatic esophageal cancer at the age of 42 on October 25, 2017.

It is hard to know how to describe the degree of loss his passing means to us and to the world of naturopathic medicine.

Dr. Ali graduated from Bastyr University in 2003 with a degree in naturopathic medicine. He was one of just a few naturopathic physicians that have gone on to pursue careers in academic medical centers. He rose to a national leadership position in integrative medicine at Yale Medical School and was the founding director of the Yale Program in Integrative Medicine. He was an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Yale and was, at the time of his death, the Medical Director of Integrative Medicine at Smilow Cancer Hospital.

Dr. Ali was deeply involved in the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health. The group includes over 70 highly academic medical centers and affiliate institutions. Their mission is to advance the principles and practices of integrative healthcare within academic institutions. The Consortium provides its institutional membership with a community of support for its academic missions and a collective voice for influencing change.

Dr. Ali was the first naturopathic physician to sit on the Consortium’s Steering Committee. He was also chair of the Consortium’s Research Working Group, an At-Large Board Member, Lead on the group’s website redesign, and a member of the Conference Planning Committee.

The Consortium has established a $2,500 scholarship fund to honor Dr. Ali, earmarked for a naturopathic physician to attend the Consortium’s Congress every other year. As of this writing we are waiting to hear who this year’s recipient will be. Two other funds have been established in Dr. Ali’s memory.

Yale University has established a fund to honor Dr. Ali’s memory and to provide support to those continuing his work. Dr Ali’s friends and family have also established a fund that will provide support to charitable causes in his name.

In the decade that Dr. Ali worked and taught at Yale Medical School, he published over two dozen articles in medical and academic journals. His most recently published study, “Efficacy of individualised diets in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a randomised controlled trial” was published in September 2017 in the British Medical Journal.

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