Message in the President: Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

Last fall SCNM adopted 5 new core values: We Achieve Excellence; We like; We Are Resilient; We Do the Right Thing; and, We Shape the near future. I will frame this college update using the value, “We Shape the Future.”

Part of my job as President & CEO is to find opportunities that position SCNM to deal with pressing health issues, through either existing naturopathic therapies or by adopting emerging treatments. The next 2 initiatives illustrate how SCNM is shaping health insurance and healthcare's future, which in our students and graduates.

Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine

In 2013, the opioid epidemic barely registered in the public discourse; however, it was clear to us that 1) conventional treatment of chronic pain relies too heavily on opioids, and, 2) naturopathic physicians have a very toolbox of safe and effective treatments to help patients suffering from chronic pain. A few of these modalities, for example osseous and soft-tissue manipulation, go as far back to the inception of the naturopathic profession. Others, particularly regenerative injection therapies, emerged relatively recently. Whenever we designed the city Commons, a 48 000-square-foot LEED Platinum facility, we allocated a large clinical space to offer patients an interdisciplinary, non-opioid approach to treating chronic pain.

Last November that clinic had become the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine. Dr Riordan's scientific studies are known worldwide, with more than 70 peer-reviewed publications in neuro-scientific Mesenchymal Stem Cell research. Thanks to Dr Riordan's generosity and support, SCNM will become an innovator in Stem Cell Therapy, a 21st century expression from the vis medicatrix naturae – the healing power nature.

The Neil Riordan Center is staffed by naturopathic physicians who practice pain management, an acupuncturist, an anesthesiologist pain interventionalist, a memory foam surgeon with a PhD in Sports Medicine, residents, a PhD-registered dietician, and a naturopathic physician having a focus on homeopathy and mindfulness. This beautiful center is fully equipped with a fluoroscopy suite to guide injections. The team spent a year working in a chronic pain collaborative hosted by the Samueli Institute to build up an integrative, patient-centered model grounded in naturopathic principles and also the Therapeutic Order.

On February 21-22, 2023, the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine will host its first Annual International Stem Cell Conference. In addition to Dr Riordan, speakers will include Arnold Caplan, PhD, the scientist who coined the word “mesenchymal stem cell.” Our goal would be to advance naturopathic medicine towards the forefront of patient care and research in this exciting field. SCNM created an Honors Track in Regenerative Medicine to provide medical students the chance to develop these advanced skills.


Ric Scalzo, founder and former CEO of Gaia Herbs, made a transformational philanthropic gift and build a botanical research institute at SCNM. Our longstanding relationship with Ric includes ongoing research collaboration that began with an NIH grant in 2001, a summer elective at Gaia's farm in North Carolina for 3rd-year SCNM students, and a passion for and fascination for the coevolution of plants, people, microbes, and also the environment.

SCNM's research activities over the past decade have explored the healing potential of plants, specially those with antimicrobial and immune-modulating properties. SCNM faculty and students have regularly presented at annual AANP Conventions and, more recently, at the International Conference around the Science of Botanicals, the premiere international gathering of plant scientists.

The botanical research institute will advance Twenty-first century botanical medicine through scientific exploration grounded in clinical herbalism's rich tradition. The institute will perform analytical testing, cellular and molecular biology assays, and metabolomic testing, complemented by pilot clinical trials. This work, together with other educational institutions and leading companies in the natural products industry, will develop new products and improve existing formulations, isolate and identify novel plant compounds for development as pharmaceuticals, and develop FDA-approved Botanical Drug Products.

The architectural design phase is underway, and we expect renovations to start in July 2023. The institute will open at the begining of 2023. I am looking forward to sharing an update on these exciting innovations as SCNM Shapes the near future .