Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, a 1962 graduate of Cornell Medical School, is a visionary and medical reformer. A pioneer in the development of Holistic and Mind/Body medicine, her life’s work has successfully legitimized and reintegrated the human spirit into contemporary medical care and education. Dr. Remen is Clinical Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine. Her courses for medical students enable them to see beyond the disease process and strengthen the mind, heart and spirit of their patients. Her course, “The Healer’s Art,” was featured in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools 2002 to illustrate the future of medical education and is now taught at thirty-three medical schools.

Under her guidance as Founder and Director of the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Commonweal, thousands of physicians and medical educators have studied the principles and practices of a medicine of healing. Her programs for graduate physicians have helped doctors recover from the wounding of their training and reclaim their commitment to the heart and soul of medicine.

As a clinician for twenty years, Dr. Remen worked with patients with cancer and their families, and practiced in Marin County. In 1986 she became co-founder and medical director of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program in Bolinas, featured by Bill Moyers in his PBS series, “Healing and the Mind.” She was among the first to recognize the psychological and spiritual impact of cancer on people and their families and develop innovative methods to mobilize the healing power of every individual in recovering their personal wholeness.

Dr. Remen has a fifty-two-year personal history of Crohn’s disease, and her work uniquely blends the viewpoints of physician and patient. A master storyteller and speaker, over the past thirty years she has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country, reminding them of their courage, the importance and healing power of their stories and their ability to make a difference.

Dr. Remen wrote The Human Patient (Doubleday 1981), one of the earliest books on the medicine of the whole person. She is the best-selling author of Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal and My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging. Her books have been translated into eighteen languages, and are used as textbooks in many nursing and medical schools here and abroad. Dr. Remen has spoken at many medical school graduations and holds three honorary degrees.