Faculty Spotlight: Adam Perlman, MD, MPH


February is a big month for Adam Perlman, MD, MPH. In addition to having a book released last week, Perlman is also the Program Director for the Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare at Duke University, which begins its first class in two weeks.

For this Faculty Spotlight, Perlman talks about these accomplishments, getting his start in integrative medicine through martial arts, and how he stays busy at home as well as at work.

How long have you been at Duke? How long have you been at the Division?
I started at Duke on September 1, 2011, and have been a member of the Division since getting here.

You’re the Program Director of the Leadership Training Program in Integrative Healthcare, which is begins this February. Can you tell me more about this program?
This leadership program is a one-year program designed to create and train leaders grounded in the philosophy of integrative healthcare. Our first cohort of 33 students will meet at Duke from February 26-28. We have students not only from across the country, but several from outside the United States as well. The program will build leadership skills, business acumen, and principles of integrative health care to develop and sustain models of integrative health care within various settings.

What is the curriculum of the course like?
The program will begin later this February with a three-day intensive course at Duke; after that there will be six months of distance-based education that will be the core educational core for the program. These six months will focus on business acumen, general leadership skills, and provide an overview of the principles of integrative healthcare.

After that the group will reconvene at Duke for three days, both to work with each other and to be paired with matched mentors from the Duke Fuqua School of Business. For the final six months, students will work with their mentors to create a business case or business plan that students will be able to bring back to their institution for implementation.

A book you co-wrote, meQuilibrium: 14 Days to Cooler, Calmer and Happier, just came out last week. Where did the idea for this book come from? What was your involvement?
A little over four4 years ago, my co-authors and I founded a company called meQuilibrium. Through that work, we developed an online digital coaching solution to help people to be more resilient and manage stress better. The science behind the approach comes from research within the areas of positive psychology and resiliency, coupled with principles and practices often associated with Integrative Medicine. I primarily developed the approach to the lifestyle components, such as nutrition, exercise and sleep.

You’ll be speaking at the American College of Physicians conference in April. What will you be talking about?
I’ll be one of the presenters for Multiple Small Feedings of the Mind: Infectious Disease, Integrative Medicine, and Diabetes session. I’ll be addressing three questions related to Integrative Medicine, namely: 1) My patients want to use herbal supplements for mood disorders. Is there evidence to support their use, and what are the potential adverse effects? 2) What is the evidence for treating chronic musculoskeletal pain with acupuncture? and 3) What is mindfulness-based stress reduction, and what data support its use?

You’ve said your interest in integrative medicine began when you were studying martial arts as a young man. Can you tell me more about this connection? What martial art were you studying?

I went to medical school interested in integrative medicine before the term existed. This interest was due to a martial art I studied as a young man.

I started when I was 16, and eventually co-owned a school, and taught for a number of years. The martial art I studied was an eclectic mix of hard and soft styles. As a martial arts instructor what I enjoyed most about martial arts is seeing people get healthier. Through that experience, I came to appreciate the importance of physical activity and lifestyle as well as the mind-body connection.

I also was exposed to and intrigued by approaches to health that came from other healing traditions. However, I realized that we needed more evidence to understand what is efficacious and what isn’t. In medical school, that led me to pursue a research Fellowship in General Internal Medicine.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Division?
Well I wouldn’t call it a hobby, but my wife Laurice and I do have from children, who range from ages 12 to 21. They keep me pretty busy when I’m not at work. I also enjoy working out and golf.