Medical traditions and treatments originating with the dawn of human history and handed across generations, have preserved humankind’s experience with a broad spectrum of natural products found to be effective in the treatment of our many ailments. In many populations the vital substance of this knowledge and experience has been diligently recorded and illustrated, and transmitted to us in rare manuscripts and books. This critical treasure of knowledge is now threatened with oblivion. The Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions Inc. is dedicated to bringing this heritage to light, and to making it available, understandable, and searchable for new applications.
The Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization for innovative research with principal interest in the recovery, preservation, and study of ancient medical traditions, especially therapeutics. It fosters and performs in-house and extramural scientific research; provides training for students and support for scientists; and shares knowledge by means of scientific publications, expertise for the scientific community, and information for nonspecialist audiences. The Institute also hosts, curates, develops, and makes available scholarly collections and scientific documentation on all aspects of medical traditions.
To prevent the loss of this unique body of knowledge, the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions Inc. has developed an original strategy: has created a unprecedented repository of knowledge made of three major collections of data and aimed at bringing this exceptional heritage of medical expertise from the shelves of libraries to the benches of laboratories:
- The World Medical Memory is a library of digtal images of manuscripts and printed books found in libraries across the globe (image mode).
- The Materia Medica Library is a digitally recorded and searchable collection of texts found in the World Medical Memory.
- Old Herbs, New Remedies is a set of databases containing information on the therapeutic substances and their uses as recorded in the texts of the Materia Medica Library.
The Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions focuses on the Mediterranean tradition, and has special interest in the Greek medical heritage and the contribution of the Arabo-Islamic World to medicine. In the future, it will integrate other traditions into its programme.
The Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions Inc. is incorporated in Delaware, U.S.A., and hosted in the Department of Botany at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC.
The activity of the Institute is monitored by a Board of Trustees, working in collaboration with a Scholarly Advisory Board. It is operated by a CEO and a Scientific Director.
In Washington, the Institute coordinates the research programs, hosts its library and documentary collections, and conducts original research. It also operates in collaboration with a consortium of libraries, research centers and laboratories worldwide. Research in associated libraries and other centers is made by scholars and scientists affiliated with such institutions.\
Through agreements with universities (local, national, and international), the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions Inc. shall contribute to the education of the next generation of scientists. It shall provide research training from undergraduate to post-doctoral level (residential internships), and shall also offer financial support to scholars with fellowships (pre and post-doctoral) and short-term travel and research grants.
The results of the research activity conducted in the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions Inc. shall be communicated to the international scientific community through the Web site of the Institute in the World Medical Memory, the Materia Medica Library, and the Old Herbs, New Remedies database. Also they will be published in monographs and research articles in a range of widely recognized peer-reviewed journals.
The Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions Inc. and its scholars and scientists are actively engaged in the national and international scientific community; attending conferences and delivering papers, organizing or moderating sessions, presenting posters and exhibitions, or playing a leading role in scientific societies.
The Institute shall also organize seminars, workshops, and conferences to survey and review current reearch in the field or on specific topics, to discuss, evaluate or propose research methods and results, to suggest new avenues for innovative research, or to debate hot issues and offer expertise.
To increase the awareness of, and the interest in, medical traditions among the lay audience, the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions Inc. shall also foster, sponsor, organize, or participate in public lectures, exhibitions, debates, and events, and shall publish articles in newspapers and magazines.
The activity of the Institute is made possible thanks to the generous support of the National Institute of Health, U.S.A., CaudillSeed, and many anonymous donors.