Weill Cornell Receives Avon Foundation Grant for Complementary and Integrative Program on Meditation-Based Stress Reduction for Women Cancer Patients

Jan 22, 2004


Weill Cornell Medical College has received a $250,000 grant from the Avon Foundation to support a unique new meditation-based stress reduction program for women who have been treated for breast cancer or gynecologic cancer. The program, which takes place at Weill Cornell's Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CCIM), is designed and led by Dr. Joseph Loizzo, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and Assistant Attending Psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell.

Dr. Loizzo, who founded the Center for Meditation and Healing in Manhattan, developed this health educational program based on his 30-year study of Indo-Tibetan traditions. He has both an M.D. from New York University and a Ph.D. in Indo-Tibetan studies from Columbia University. Dr. Loizzo works closely with CCIM. The grant is one of 13 awards, totaling nearly $30 million, made by the Avon Foundation as part of its Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, whose mission is to fund access to care and find a cure for breast cancer. Avon has made a number of other grants to Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell's chief clinical affiliate.

Weill Cornell's meditation-based stress reduction program, thanks to the Avon grant, is free to the 60 women cancer patients who participate. Sitting in a room either on cushions or in chairs, in groups of about 15 patients each, participants learn mindfulness and visualization techniques to learn meditation in eight two-hour-long weekly sessions.

"We provide the support," Dr. Loizzo says, "and teach people the essential principles and practices of stress reduction. Participants are guided through meditative techniques that help decrease stress and promote healing. Preliminary scientific studies, not to mention centuries of Asian tradition, suggest that such instruction can lessen suffering, reduce disability, and improve quality of life.

The eight initial sessions are followed by 12 sessions in cognitive-affective-behavioral learning, with the aim of promoting healthful changes that improve quality of life. Appropriate audiotapes and reading materials will be supplied. "This practice can help participants unlearn disease-prone habits," Dr. Loizzo says, "and develop a healthier outlook, attitude, and lifestyle." The Co-Principal Investigator of the program is Dr. Mary Charlson, Executive Director of CCIM, Professor of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at Weill Cornell. Dr. Charlson, an eminent methodologist with expertise in multidisciplinary research, oversees the collection and analysis of data from the program with the help of the Informatics Unit of CCIM. For more information about this program, please call (212) 746-1679.