June 22, 2016

A Q&A with Dr. Toby Cosgrove and Dr. Mark Hyman

On Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine


In September 2014, Cleveland Clinic became the first major medical center to have a Center for Functional Medicine. The success of this venture has surpassed all expectations. The center is a collaboration between Cleveland Clinic and the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). It is led by Mark Hyman, MD, Chairman of the Board of the IFM and founder of The UltraWellness Center.


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With so much buzz around the new Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Toby Cosgrove, MD, sat down with Dr. Hyman to ask him some questions.

Dr. Cosgrove: How are patients responding to Functional Medicine?

Dr. Hyman: We have been thrilled by the amazing response. We have had hundreds of requests for appointments at our Cleveland Clinic center, and we have over 1,900 patients on the waiting list. We are working hard to keep in touch with these new patients and to accommodate all requests for appointments as soon as we can. Looking ahead, we will be expanding Functional Medicine with a new space on main campus by 2017 and by offering services at additional Cleveland Clinic locations. They have been seeing great improvements in health and outcomes.

Dr. Cosgrove: How does Functional Medicine work?

Dr. Hyman: Functional Medicine is the science of creating health by treating the whole system and focusing on root causes, not just the symptoms. Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine physicians spend time with their patients, listening to their histories, mapping their personal timeline and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex chronic diseases.


Following an extensive medical history and review of diet, we run the appropriate medical tests to begin to get to the root of chronic health issues. By changing the disease-centered focus of medical practice to this patient-centered approach ground in systems medicine and biology, our physicians are able to support the healing process by viewing health and illness as part of a cycle in which all components of the human biological system interact dynamically with the environment.

Dr. Cosgrove: What does Functional Medicine treat?

Dr. Hyman: Our physicians are trained in Functional and nutritional medicine and our nutritionists are registered dietitians with specialized training in using food as medicine. We address and treat a whole range of conditions, including autoimmune diseases, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, fatigue, healthy weight and metabolism, migraines and headaches, digestive disease and hormonal disorders. We also focus on mood and behavioral issues as well as heavy metal toxicity and environmental and food allergies.

Dr. Cosgrove: How does a physician become certified as a Functional Medicine specialist?

Dr. Hyman: The IFM Certification Program provides the most comprehensive training available in Functional Medicine. The educational materials have been developed by the leaders in the field, and the teaching faculty has a depth of experience and knowledge honed by many years of practice and by their commitment to the ongoing development of core concepts, tools and applications. The Institute for Functional Medicine provides all the details.


Dr. Cosgrove: What is the mission of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine?

Dr. Hyman: We are addressing 21st-century healthcare across the continuum of clinical care, community outreach, research and education. We are making a substantive case for the potential of Functional Medicine to change healthcare through improved outcomes and reduced costs within the current system. Functional Medicine is a good fit with Cleveland Clinic as we share a team-based approach to care and our priority is to keep patients out of the hospital and at home in their communities.

Dr. Cosgrove: Can you tell us more about the Institute for Functional Medicine?

Dr. Hyman: The Institute of Functional Medicine is a 501 c (3), nonprofit educational institute. IFM is on a mission to make Functional Medicine the standard of care. Our strategy includes validating Functional Medicine approaches to patient care, both clinically and with research and expanding access to Functional Medicine care for patients and employment opportunities for Functional Medicine clinicians. As we collaborate with Cleveland Clinic, we are strengthening IFM’s outreach.

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