IFM Announces Two Recipients for Inaugural Founders’ Scholarship Award

Earlier this year, IFM announced the Founders’ Scholarship, established and funded by IFM founders Susan and Jeff Bland. This scholarship supports functional medicine education for primary care practitioners working with underserved communities who show exemplary leadership and passion for their communities and the mission of IFM. This scholarship includes the cost of all uncompleted IFM Certification Pathway programs and attendance to the Annual International Conference (AIC). Initially, only one scholarship was available. During the application process, both Susan and Jeff Bland were deeply moved by the work and dedication that these applicants have for their communities and generously expanded the award to support two clinicians.

As part of AIC 2023, IFM was pleased to announce that the first two recipients of the inaugural Founders’ Scholarship are Irdina Aminuddin, MBBS, from Selangor, Malaysia, and Tarika James, MD, from New York, USA!

Irdina Aminuddin HeadshotIrdina Aminuddin, MBBS
Dr. Irdina Aminuddin is a primary care doctor from Malaysia. Following her mother’s footsteps, she obtained a medical degree (MBBS) from University of Malaya in 2017. Her undergraduate years were colorful as she rotated through various disciplines and places of practice, including rural settings, primary care, and tertiary hospitals. She also spent two months in Bangalore, India, working in obstetrics and gynecology. Irdina entered public service and worked as a junior doctor in Sarawak General Hospital for almost three years, completing rotations in obstetrics & gynecology, internal medicine, surgery, orthopedics, pediatrics, and emergency medicine. In 2019, she was called back to serve her home state in Sungai Buloh Hospital’s medical department, which was the main COVID-19 center during the pandemic. It opened her eyes to the healthcare burden the nation was facing, not just with COVID-19 but also with other chronic, noncommunicable diseases. With patients of the same diagnosis being grouped together in isolation, personalized care was lost, and that influenced her to pursue primary care and functional medicine. She is now a resident doctor at a primary care clinic in Selangor. Irdina holds the saying “to cure sometimes, to treat often, to comfort always” close to heart and believes that no complaint is too menial to be given attention to. She hopes to do her part in disease prevention by bringing meaningful change to her community through the knowledge she gains. She elaborates, “I am even more determined to give back to the community. Finding the root cause, prioritizing nutrition as well as a healthy lifestyle [is] the way to move forward. I’d like to incorporate what I learn and tailor it to Malaysians in a way that is practical and accessible.” Congratulations, Dr. Aminuddin!

Tarika James HeadshotTarika James, MD
Dr. Tarika James is a board-certified practicing family medicine doctor from New York and the chief medical officer at Harmony Healthcare Long Island, a not-for-profit federally qualified health center (FQHC). She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Ursinus College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and completed her medical doctorate training at Drexel University College of Medicine. Tarika was inspired to pursue medicine by her grandmother Pearl, a self-taught naturalist who was able to reverse her rheumatoid arthritis through nutrition alone. Seeing her grandmother overcome illness with nutrition is a driving factor in her shift to practice functional medicine and treat the root causes of disease more holistically. Tarika is a prolific speaker and healthcare advocate who is passionate about improving the health outcomes of medically underserved communities with the most need. She strives to improve healthcare delivery by providing preventive care and high-quality chronic disease management to patients. Several initiatives implemented under her leadership at Harmony Healthcare, including offering open-access appointments and increase specialty care services, have worked to bring this goal to life. Tarika aspires to continue dismantling barriers to health care, reducing healthcare costs and improving health outcomes in the underserved communities she treats by offering a wider range of healthcare options that may better align with their cultural beliefs and preferences. Tarika is ready to lead change in health care, saying, “I want to empower people to learn how to listen to their own bodies and leverage their self-healing potential. Attaining this education will help me to lead my practice in taking a patient-centered approach to care. This approach will give the communities we serve access to new modalities of treatment that are more effective and less harmful.” Congratulations, Dr. James!

More information on IFM scholarship opportunities is available at