Edzard Ernst M.D., Ph.D.
Edzard Ernst was the UK’s first professor of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM); the chair was endowed by the Laing foundation at the University of Exeter in 1993.
Ernst was previously professor of physical and rehabilitation medicine at the University of Vienna, where he specialised in investigating venous and arterial blood flow modified by physical treatments such as spa, heat, or massage. At this time he also undertook a basic postgraduate training in homeopathy, but has hardly practiced.
The research facility at Exeter is not involved in any outpatient or inpatient treatment or postgraduate clinical training within the field of CAM or conventional medicine. He has not practiced medicine for some time and is currently not registered or insured to do so. This may explain the major thrust of his research: literature reviews of already extant research making approximately 90% of his voluminous output of several hundred papers and some twenty books.
The fact that he has collated the published literature in the field of CAM has earned him well justified praise. However the reviews and evaluations he publishes have often met with substantial methodological criticism. In situations where reviews were conducted simultaneously by other research groups, other scientists frequently came to entirely different, and usually more positive, conclusions.
Practitioners of CAM and conventional medicine have pointed out that Ernst has almost no first-hand experience of many of the modalities about which he publishes. Compared with the substantial number of literature reviews, meta-analyses and opinion pieces, Prof. Ernst has published little original primary research. His clinical trials have nearly all encountered severe methodological criticism and have often been published in low impact journals. However, some studies conducted by his research fellows, mainly in the field of acupuncture, are of high quality.
To CAM or Not To CAM?
Beata Bishop, The Scientific and Medcal Network, 2014
Photo credit: Institute for Science in Medicine