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President Candidates

Cate Collings, MD, FACC

It is with equal parts enthusiasm and honor that I apply for president of the American College of Lifestyle (ACLM) Board of Directors.  In my 4 years of ACLM involvement including as Executive Secretary and Education Committee Co-Chair, I have been able to work alongside passionate and talented members, celebrate groundbreaking accomplishments, and receive rewarding professional renewal.

In a potential role as president, my overarching goal is to enhance scalability and sustainability for the field of Lifestyle Medicine  (LM) through 3 approaches:  1) enhancing professional education, 2) creating kitchen table conversations, and 3) activating LM for healthcare reform.

Deep foundations in professional education are the first order to achieve scalability and sustainability for LM.  We must embed LM curriculum throughout medical schools, primary care and subspecialty residencies, the nursing profession, and all allied health fields.  Lifestyle Medicine must become a differentiated advanced subspecialty and healthcare executives must be able to certify in LM program implementation.  

The second order of achieving scalability and sustainability is to engage the general public in the sensibility of lifestyle as medicine.  With a belief that people want to feel well, ACLM must take a lead on seeding the message of lifestyle as medicine into mainstream culture in a manner similarly sensational as the current sources of health media misinformation.  When we capture general public awareness of evidence-based lifestyle as medicine with a feel-good tagline, and at the order of kitchen table conversation, we will have even greater scale, momentum, and sustainability.

The third order of achieving scalability and sustainability will be through healthcare policy, advocacy, and strategic economic alliances with healthcare systems and payers.  LM can and should become the foundation for healthcare reform.  We must take a lead on converging key government and healthcare stakeholders and foster pilots and research into best methods of LM implementation for both patient care and economic ROI. 

My goal of scalability and sustainability would not be conceivable were it not for the collective expertise and passion of our expanding membership, our executive director, and our amazing staff.

With equal parts of enthusiasm and honor, I respectfully submit my application for president of ACLM Board of Directors.

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Brenda Rea, MD, DrPH, PT, RD

Having been involved with ACLM as a founding member, my vision has steadily grown alongside this amazing professional society.  During the early years, I was a physical therapist with a passion for lifestyle medicine.  Through a transition into the world of public health, nutrition and academia, I became enthralled with opportunities to educate a variety of public and allied health students around lifestyle medicine topics.  The experiences of being a non-physician health care provider and educator in the field of lifestyle medicine strengthened my understanding of the collaborative power possible when a team-based lifestyle medicine approach is embraced.  As such, each ACLM member has an essential role to play in this orchestrated lifestyle medicine movement. 

My latest endeavor has been medicine, with training at Loma Linda University in both Family and Preventive Medicine.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to remain at Loma Linda with a significant part of my time dedicated to the education of medical students, residents and fellows, specifically in lifestyle medicine.  In addition, amazing colleagues and I have started a lifestyle medicine service line that includes an outpatient consultation clinic and inpatient consultation service at Loma Linda.

I see ACLM as a mechanism through which lifestyle medicine can become a recognized specialty in the "house of medicine" and a way in which many other vital healthcare professionals can become lifestyle medicine certified.  It is a basic right for people to know that lifestyle medicine is core to preventing, treating and reversing chronic disease and this is a mission ACLM is valiantly pushing forward.  As a current ACLM board member, I have been able to serve ACLM and its members in many capacities but most fully as co-chair of the Education Committee where tremendous growth has occurred in the past two years. 

I am 100% committed to promoting lifestyle medicine.  I will be a champion for non-physicians, but also able to speak through the physician perspective.  With a broad experience in a variety of healthcare and academic positions, I would be honored to serve ACLM as President.

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Young Director Candidates

Paiyuam (Pi) Asnaashari, DO

When I applied for the young director position, I began to reflect on how the past brought me here. In medical school I struggled to find a sense of purpose or satisfaction in the work that I was doing. One of my mentors once told me to “pay attention to your goose bumps”, as a metaphor to help me find what I believed is great work. My search for meaning in medicine lead me to discover the ACLM conference in 2014. I remember standing in back of the grand hall, listening to Dr. David Katz give his opening speech, and felt goose bumps running down my arms. The conference inspired me more than anything I had ever experienced in medical school, consequently; I have wanted to dedicate myself to this organization ever since.

For the last four years I have taken various leadership positions within the ACLM’s Professionals in Training (PiT) group. Our PiT group has made great strides to help increase student/trainee awareness about the ACLM. Marsha-Gail  (Past PiT VP development) and I developed the ACLM’s first LMIG (Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group) Starter Kit to help students/trainee start new LMIGs at their respective institutions. We also created multiple video-based marketing campaigns to gather interest from social media outlets. The growth of LMIG’s and student/trainee conference attendance has been a testament of PiT’s efforts in conjunction with the ACLM. As I finish my family medicine residency, I’m looking for new avenues to stay involved with the ACLM to help the community grow.

The past Young Director, Regan Steigman, has been a tremendous mentor for me. Expanding our outreach to students/trainees and creating Lifestyle Medicine educational content have always been huge passions of mine. What makes me unique is an overall desire to seek solutions that are creative and resourceful. I’m also an avid graphic designer, consequently; I believe my strengths and past experiences will allow me to continue improve ACLM’s outreach and bridge the gap between the ACLM and PiT.

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Natalie Gentile, MD

We are merely at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Lifestyle Medicine revolution in healthcare, and I am thrilled to be a part of the movement. 

Lifestyle Medicine has been a common theme in my career endeavors up to this point, with presentations at the local and national levels about community interventions to combat childhood obesity with lifestyle changes, teaching yoga as medicine, and burnout prevention for physicians.  During my Family Medicine residency at the Mayo Clinic, I became involved in ACLM by presenting at the annual conferences, and during my first year of practice at Mayo Clinic, I was part of the inaugural class to pass the LM board certification exam. 

I am interested in being nominated for one of the At-Large Board of Directors positions.  As a new, young physician, I am excited about the potential in my career for practicing LM and helping patients to live a healthier, more fulfilling life, and I will bring enthusiasm and energy to the ACLM BoD to further the vision of the ACLM and advance the field.

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At Large Director Candidates

Ted Barnett, MD, FACLM

I am running for the ACLM Board of Directors because I believe that I can help further the cause that I have been involved with since 1991 when my wife, 3 children, and I became vegan. There are many reasons (ethics, environment, social justice) behind the decision we made back then but the nudge we received that finally pushed us into committing to that way of life was reading Reversing Heart Disease, by Dean Ornish, MD.

Since that time, as you can see by reading my CV, I have committed almost all of my spare time and energy actively promoting a whole-food plant-based diet.

I believe that Lifestyle Medicine is the prescription needed to promote not just the healing of the individual, but the healing of our world, and the ecosystems we and our fellow creatures depend on. In addition to being a more powerful treatment for most of the illness that we currently attempt to address with the paradigms of modern medicine, Lifestyle Medicine—with its emphasis on a whole-food plant-based diet, physical activity, and other low-tech interventions—uses far fewer resources while generating less waste and greenhouse gas; and at a much lower cost, all while returning the locus of control to the patient. Lifestyle Medicine brings into alignment the needs of the individual with the needs of the many!

I founded Rochester Lifestyle Medicine, PLLC and the Rochester Lifestyle Medicine Institute (RLMI) to accomplish the following:

  • Help Lifestyle Medicine and Plant-Based Nutrition become the Standard of Care for our ailing health care system.
  • Help develop a sustainable and attractive medical practice model for Lifestyle Medicine physicians.
  • Support scientific research into Lifestyle Medicine and Plant-Based Nutrition
  • Provide financial support for indigent or underserved patients being treated in a Lifestyle Medicine program
  • Provide a framework for volunteers who wish to support the goals of Lifestyle Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine research
  • Support individual, community, and professional education regarding Lifestyle Medicine and Plant-Based Nutrition
  • Support community efforts to promote healthy lifestyles

I look forward to serving in any way that I can!

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Param Dedhia, MD

Great movements in history share a passionate purpose among an organized group of people. Our patients, our communities and our medical systems are seeking a renewed connection with their health and healing. With Lifestyle Medicine and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), I honor this passion & purpose among a special group of colleagues. Like you, I found my tribe within the ACLM. In serving as an at-large member on the ACLM Board of Directors, I will promise to funnel my energies and skills into our shared professional calling to carry out the mission and vision of the ACLM.

At Johns Hopkins, I formally learned the practice of internal medicine, the core of public health, and development of medical curriculums. With my ongoing interest in Lifestyle Medicine, I pursued nutrition and exercise as well as sleep health. Personally, I learned of grief, stress and exhaustion within my own health. Unknowingly, these experiences allowed for insights that moved me from theory to the practicum of Lifestyle Medicine. With board certifications in Internal Medicine, Sleep Medicine and Obesity Medicine, and fellowship training in Geriatric Medicine and Integrative Medicine, I am now fully immersed into Lifestyle Medicine for the past ten years at Canyon Ranch— a health and wellness destination focused on Lifestyle Medicine.

I thank you for the consideration as I would be deeply honored to serve on the ACLM Board of Directors as an At-Large member. As a former academic and now a practitioner & educator of Lifestyle Medicine, I find a natural connection with ACLM. Then and, more so, now, we know that Lifestyle Medicine– the true core of health and healing—needs to be in all medical training programs and all ongoing education opportunities across all disciplines. Our patients, communities and colleagues are asking to be empowered with Lifestyle Medicine. With the ACLM, we have a special opportunity to make all of this happen—and we must… and we will.

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Michelle McMacken, MD

For the first 9 years of my career as an internist at a large academic practice in New York City, I managed chronic disease the way I knew best: with pharmacotherapy and referrals for procedures. All of that changed in 2013, when I attended the annual American College of Lifestyle Medicine meeting for the first time. That ACLM conference awakened me to a world I had never dreamed possible: doctors helping patients get to the root of their disease, not just managing symptoms. Since that conference, I have moved lifestyle medicine to front and center in my practice – an urban primary care center at a safety-net hospital, serving a highly diverse and underserved population.

The results have been so rewarding, not just for my patients but for me personally and professionally, that I’ve shifted the arc of my career towards lifestyle medicine, with an emphasis on nutrition. In 2014, I received an NYU Merrin fellowship grant to study evidence-based nutrition and develop a faculty curriculum on this topic. I now lead nutrition education for NYU’s internal medicine residency trainees. I have spoken at academic Grand Rounds regionally and at national academic meetings including at ACLM and the Plant-Based Nutrition Health Care conference; in April 2018 I spoke at the annual American College of Physicians meeting to a group of nearly 1000 practicing internal medicine physicians on “Food As Medicine,” and in May 2018 I delivered two presentations on plant-based nutrition at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting. In 2017 I co-authored a paper on plant-based diets for type 2 diabetes, a particular interest of mine. I direct our hospital’s Weight Management Program, and in 2018 will launch a Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program – to my knowledge, the first of its kind at a safety-net hospital.

I am passionate about, and deeply committed to, educating patients, the public, and health professionals on nutrition and lifestyle medicine. As a practicing internist on the front lines in academic medicine and primary care, I believe that my experience and perspective would add unique value to ACLM’s Board of Directors. I’m grateful to ACLM for planting a seed for me, and I would be honored to serve on the Board to help plant that seed for others.

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Pankaj Vij, MD, FACP

My passion for lifestyle medicine aligns with ACLM’s mission perfectly. Working in a very large medical group, I have collaborated with multi-disciplinary teams on complex projects. I have co-developed and led several workshops for my physician colleagues and patients related to heath, wellness, education and personal development through the past few years. I have been organizing and hosting the Physician Heal Thyself annual wellness conference for the last 4 years and recently chaired a wellness event for over 1000 people in the Silicon Valley.

I am committed to ACLM’s success as premier institution which upholds the highest standards in delivering evidence based education as well as advocacy for the pillars of lifestyle medicine as a solution to our health care crisis.

Practicing Lifestyle Medicine is the most exciting, stimulating, rewarding part of my job. It has restored joy and meaning to the practice of medicine for me and serving on the board will help me further my participation in the movement.

It would be my honor to serve as At-Large Director.

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The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) is the world's flagship professional medical association for physicians, clinicians and allied health professionals, as well as those in professions devoted to advancing the mission of lifestyle medicine.


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