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The Future of Integrative Health Research: Brent Leininger, DC

September 11, 2015

Investigating the cost-effectiveness of chiropractic and other integrative health approaches for spine pain is Brent Leininger’s passion. Leininger, DC, is a chiropractor and junior researcher
in the Center’s Integrative Health & Wellbeing Research Program.

Brent has been mentored for six years by Drs. Gert Brønfort and Roni Evans, who were previously at Northwestern Health Sciences University, and joined the Center in 2014 to form the new Integrative Health & Wellbeing Research Program. When his mentors moved to the Center, Brent had the opportunity to bring his National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral funding. According to Brent, the NIH fellowship provided him important opportunities to connect with other scientists.

“Gert and Roni have a longstanding track record for conducting high quality clinical research, and have established meaningful collaborations with an expansive network of researchers across the world. Tapping into that was a great experience for me.”

While the experience he gained working with his mentors was valuable, the move to the University of Minnesota gave him an additional career boost. “Being here at the University and at the Center is a lot different than where I was previously. The resources are exponentially greater. My recently submitted proposal for a career development award (K01) to the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is a great example. I was able to identify mentors and resources across a number of different disciplines here at the University to build a robust career development plan.”

He is appreciative to the Center’s leadership for investing in future healthcare researchers. “The Center’s vision for health aligns with mine. It’s more of a holistic approach, which is important. I’m interested in looking at how integrative health approaches impact peoples’ overall wellbeing.”

The postdoctoral fellowship was the first step on Brent’s career path in research. Three years in length, it provided him the funding to pursue a Master of Science degree in Clinical Research from the University of Minnesota, and to gain extensive practical experience in all aspects of clinical research by working with his mentors. Brønfort is his primary scientific mentor, and is a leading authority on complementary and conservative interventions for spine pain conditions, with a special emphasis on conducting systematic reviews and randomized clinical trials.

“Brent is highly motivated, with an excellent work ethic and a keen eye for the nuances of high-quality and relevant health research,” says Brønfort. “His postdoctoral fellowship provided him a wonderful opportunity to expand his research skills and identify a specific career path for which he has passion and aptitude.”

Recently, Leininger completed his three-year Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship from the NIH, and is awaiting word as to whether his K01 proposal will be funded. “The reviews and score were favorable,” says Leininger. “Receiving the award will allow me to actively pursue the next phase of my research career.” The opportunity to work within the Center as a research fellow is an unquestionable win-win for all! The Center offers a unique setting for dynamic and interdisciplinary training in integrative health research that provides aspiring scientists the skills and support needed to fundamentally shape the nation’s health and wellbeing. Supporting a research fellow is a tangible, highly influential way of advancing the Center’s work.

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The Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing blog covers a range of integrative health and wellbeing topics. For more information about our blog, contact us at csh@umn.edu