The Institute for Functional Medicine Celebrates Scholarship and Linus Pauling Award Winners at the 30th Annual International Conference

Presented by IFM, these awards recognize outstanding achievements and practice of functional medicine.

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – June 6, 2023 – The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) is delighted to announce the winners of its prestigious Linus Pauling Award in Functional Medicine, Debbie Sanstad Memorial Scholarship, and the inaugural Founders’ Scholarships, presented at the highly anticipated 2023 Annual International Conference (AIC). In its 30th year, AIC brought together renowned healthcare professionals, researchers, and practitioners from around the globe to explore the latest advancements and innovations in functional medicine.

“IFM extends its warmest congratulations to all the award winners for their outstanding contributions to the field of functional medicine,” shares Amy R. Mack, MSES/MPA, IFM Chief Executive Officer. “Their tireless efforts and unwavering commitment to patient-centered care have helped advance the transformation of healthcare and will continue to improve the health and well-being of patients and communities around the globe.”

The Linus Pauling Award in Functional Medicine recognizes a visionary clinician or researcher who has made a significant contribution to the development of the functional medicine model or to the reach of functional medicine, nationally or internationally. This year’s recipient joins the slate of an impressive 26 previous award recipients since its inception in 1996.

Aristo Vojdani HeadshotThe 2023 Linus Pauling Award recognizes Aristo Vojdani, PhD, MSc, CLS for his exceptional work as a scholar, researcher, and teacher. His contributions to the fields of immunology and microbiology shed light on the complex mechanisms of autoimmune diseases, food sensitivities, and environmental toxins.

Dr. Vojdani has worked tirelessly to study, research, and publish on immunological connections that matter to clinicians and their patients. His research and advocacy have not only advanced our understanding of the immune system and its role in health and disease but have paved the way for personalized targeted treatment approaches. He is a true pioneer and an inspiration to the functional medicine movement.

Scholarship Awards
IFM is proud to offer annual scholarships to expand access to functional medicine training for practitioners. These scholarships allow clinicians to gain new clinical skills and effectively apply the functional medicine model in diverse clinical settings.

In memory of longtime IFM team member Debbie Sanstad, this annual scholarship covers the cost of all coursework in IFM’s Certification Program. In 2023, the scholarship is intended for clinicians practicing outside of the United States and who are at the beginning of the IFM Certification Pathway. The 2023 Debbie Sanstad Memorial Scholarship is awarded to Erin Jankauskas, a compassionate and motivated physician assistant with an enthusiasm for community health education, global public health, and functional medicine.

Erin Jankauskas HeadshotErin Jankauskas has clinical experience in various fields, including primary care, critical care medicine, and vascular surgery. It is through these experiences that she became increasingly interested in understanding the prevention, management, and root causes of chronic disease.

Most recently, Erin worked in a primary care clinic in Senegal, Centre de Santé Aristide Mensah, where she treated patients of all ages. She is dedicated to creating accessible functional medicine opportunities and educational programs in underserved areas to enable people to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

The Founders’ Scholarship was established and funded in 2023 by IFM co-founders, Susan Bland, MA and Jeff Bland, PhD. 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. We are pleased to announce Irdina Aminuddin, M.B.B.S., primary care doctor from Malaysia, and Tarika James, M.D., family medicine doctor from New York, as this year’s Founders’ Scholarship winners.

Irdina Aminuddin HeadshotFollowing her mother’s footsteps, Irdina Aminuddin, M.B.B.S., obtained her medical degree from the University of Malaysia, rotating through various disciplines and places of practice including rural postings, primary care, and tertiary hospitals. Upon graduation, Dr. Aminuddin entered public service and worked as a junior doctor in Sarawak General Hospital for almost three years. She completed postings 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 center. It opened her eyes to the healthcare burden the nation was facing, not just with COVID but also with other chronic, noncommunicable diseases. With patients of the same diagnosis being grouped together in isolation, personalized care was lost, which influenced her to pursue primary care and functional medicine education in 2022. She is now a resident doctor at a primary care clinic in Selangor. 

Tarika James HeadshotAs a healthcare provider committed to delivering exceptional care, Tarika James, M.D. is dedicated to incorporating the principles of functional medicine into her practice. By recognizing the interconnectedness of the body’s systems and addressing the root causes of disease, it is her aim to help patients achieve optimal health and well-being.

In her role as Chief Medical Officer at Harmony Healthcare Long Island, a not-for-profit federally qualified health center (FQHC), Dr. James is committed to making functional medicine available in underserved communities so patients will have access to a wider range of healthcare options that may better align with their cultural beliefs and preferences. Equipped with the tools and knowledge to take charge of their health, she believes functional and integrative medicine can help remove health barriers, reduce healthcare costs, and improve health outcomes in underserved communities.

The achievements of IFM scholarship award recipients and contributions of the Linus Pauling Award in Functional Medicine winners support IFM’s efforts to improve the quality of care for all populations, lower financial barriers to functional medicine care and training, and integrate functional medicine into more clinics, health systems, and academic medicine settings.

For more information about The Institute for Functional Medicine, Linus Pauling Award in Functional Medicine, or IFM scholarship opportunities, please visit

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About The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM)
As the leading voice for functional medicine for more than 30 years, IFM is advancing the transformation of healthcare for patients and practitioners worldwide. IFM supports the confident and competent practice of functional medicine through high-quality education and certification programs; partnerships across medical disciplines; and advocating on behalf of functional medicine clinicians and patients around the globe. IFM is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is the only organization providing functional medicine certification along with educational programs directly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). For more information, please visit

About Functional Medicine
As a catalyst in the transformation of healthcare, functional medicine treats root causes of disease and restores healthy function through a personalized patient experience. From chronic illness to disease prevention, functional medicine systematically addresses the unique physical, mental, and emotional needs of all patients. By understanding each patient’s genetic, environmental, and lifestyle influences, functional medicine is a vital partner to conventional medicine that delivers transformative care to promote optimal health and well-being.

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Alyssa Parker
Manager, Public Relations