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Program Celebrates Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage

By Eddy Ball
January 2009

Kramer, above, criticized the shortcomings of conventional studies of Oriental medicine. "All the data is fine," he said, "but I'm a clinician concerned with the individually specific effects of a therapy." (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

lecture drew NIEHS employees
The lecture drew NIEHS employees with ties to, or interest in, Asian/Pacific Islander cultural heritage, such as NIEHS Postdoctoral Fellow Reuben Thomas, Ph.D., right, and JinJie Jiang, Ph.D. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

James Huff, Ph.D.
NIEHS Toxicologist James Huff, Ph.D., above, responded to Kramer's statement that "Oriental medicine is very good with viral infection" with a question on treating the H1N1 virus with acupuncture and herbs. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Durrett took the microphone
Following her first performance and a change of clothes, Durrett took the microphone and invited volunteers to take the stage along with her. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Esther Hou
Esther Hou, an NIEHS biologist in the DNA Repair and Nucleic Acid Enzymology Group, relaxed as she watched the demonstration (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS commemorated Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month on May 27 with a talk on Oriental medicine in Rodbell Auditorium, followed by ethnic food sampling and a hula dance performance and instruction in the NIEHS cafeteria. The theme of the 2009 celebration sponsored by the NIEHS Diversity Council was "Leadership to Meet the Challenges of a Changing World."

Hosted by NIEHS Special Techniques Group Biologist and Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month committee member Eli Ney, the talk by licensed acupuncturist and performance technologist Brian Kramer explored "The Science of Acupuncture: A Comparative Analysis of Acupuncture in Biomedicine and Traditional Approaches." Kramer's practice in Raleigh combines acupuncture, herbal medicine, fitness training, nutrition, and medical massage and rehabilitation techniques.

Kramer tied his talk into the challenges of a changing world by pointing to the increasing acceptance of Oriental medicine as a part of an integrated, holistic approach to promoting healing and wellness for the individual. "Oriental medicine, including traditional Chinese medicine," he explained, "enhances and accelerates the body's own healing wisdom by addressing the body as a whole and the balance of physical, mental and emotional health."

Kramer said more and more patients are recognizing the shortcomings of the symptom-centered allopathic medicine approach and looking to alternative sources, as they come to understand that "wellness is more than simply the absence of disease." He referred to the growing body of information about acupuncture and Oriental medicine as well as clinical studies supported by the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine ( Exit NIEHS.

Following Kramer's talk, the celebration moved to the NIEHS cafeteria, where the promise of food and entertainment drew even more people. As NIEHS employees and contractors sampled ethnic specialties and desserts, they talked and mingled while Enloe High School student Serina Ann Durrett queued the music for her hula performance. Durrett's performance was hosted by Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month committee member and NIEHS staffer Myra Westmoreland.

Durrett performed two numbers before taking a break and changing her costume for the instructional part of her visit to NIEHS. She was joined on stage by several enthusiastic attendees eager to enjoy a break from routine and pick up new moves for their dancing repertoire.

Ney took advantage of Durrett's instruction and donned a Hawaiian lei as she practiced hula moves for the audience. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS Employee Services Manager Dona McNeill
NIEHS Employee Services Manager Dona McNeill seemed ready to embrace the new experience of hula dancing. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS Employee Services Intern Jennifer Evans
NIEHS Employee Services Intern Jennifer Evans seemed to enjoy her first taste of Diversity Council celebrations, as she watched her supervisor get into the swing and sway of things. Evans is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro majoring in Human Development and Family Studies. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

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