IFM History

Putting Our Functional Medicine Vision Into Action

Pediatric Physician in exam room smiling

The Institute for Functional Medicine grew out of the energy and dedication of Susan and Dr. Jeffrey Bland. They had the vision of bringing to clinical medicine the emerging evidence and insights that would enable it to move from the drug-based model of fighting infectious diseases that worked so well in the 20th century to a systems-oriented, patient-focused clinical model designed to reverse the growing chronic disease epidemic. The Blands recognized that today’s most prevalent health issues are mostly caused by the interactions between genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental exposures and that treating them requires understanding these interactions and subsequently using that understanding to design appropriate treatments that are personalized to each individual.

For more than 30 years, the prescience of this vision has become increasingly apparent. Leading scientists and clinicians have taken up the challenge of researching and developing applications for genomic (personalized) medicine, and the field has been growing rapidly. The emerging science about the origins of disease has validated the broad principles of functional medicine by convincingly demonstrating the critical influence of epigenetic factors—including diet and nutrition, environmental toxins, and lifestyle choices—on the development of chronic diseases. IFM honors these reputed scientists and clinicians by presenting the annual Linus Pauling Award in Functional Medicine.

While many of today’s tools were not yet available in 1991, IFM was already focused on using this emerging knowledge to adapt therapies with the patient (rather than the reverse) by training clinicians to examine the genetic, nutritional, environmental, and lifestyle factors for each patient and to develop a personalized approach that addresses these underlying factors.

The result is a comprehensive, “whole person” approach to treat the root causes of disease and restore healthy function by addressing the unique physical, mental, and emotional needs of all patients. By evaluating a matrix of fundamental causes in the diagnostic and therapeutic process, we can more accurately understand the root causes of illness, leading to earlier and more effective interventions that not only extend lives but also give patients back years of good living.

IFM is more determined than ever to help patients and practitioners develop the nutritional, environmental, social, and lifestyle strategies that, over time, will move toward a preventive, patient-centered healthcare system focused on optimum wellness, not just temporary symptom relief. IFM seeks your help in our mission of ensuring the widespread adoption of functional medicine.

Learn More About IFM’s Founders


How to Get Involved

Whether you are a clinician, patient, caregiver, or community member interested in functional medicine, you can help us promote the widespread adoption of functional medicine. Here’s how you can get involved and stay informed about The Institute for Functional Medicine:

  1. Become a Member
  2. Get Certified
  3. Explore Functional Medicine Training
  4. Partner With Us
  5. Find a Practitioner
  6. Donate to IFM
  7. Sign Up for Our Free Weekly Newsletter