ACLM to Honor Dr. Liana Lianov with Trailblazer Award

The Lifestyle Medicine Trailblazer recognizes an individual who is currently providing leadership in the field of lifestyle medicine, helping strengthen the foundation laid by others, while advancing it through innovation.

“It’s a wonderful honor to receive this award from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and serve with this group of leaders who carry true passion and dedication for transforming health care.

Dr. Liana Lianov

Dr. Liana Lianov

Lifestyle medicine was still a little-known medical specialty and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine a fledging medical professional organization when the July 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association went to print.

Inside was a commentary that became the seminal publication bringing lifestyle medicine into the consciousness of many health professionals. The paper “Physician Competencies for Prescribing Lifestyle Medicine,” authored by Drs. Liana Lianov and Mark Johnson, made the case that health behaviors could greatly influence future health and well-being, especially among patients with chronic disease.

For this early advocacy and her continuing innovation in lifestyle medicine, Liana Lianov, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACLM, will receive ACLM’s Trailblazer Award at Lifestyle Medicine 2022, the organization’s annual conference Nov. 13-16 in Orlando, Fla.

Trailblazer Awards recognize individuals who provide leadership in lifestyle medicine, helping strengthen the foundation laid by others, while advancing it through innovation. Extraordinary contributions may be made in domains such as patient care, education, research, innovation, management and community service.

“Dr. Lianov is a true trailblazer as one of the earliest champions for lifestyle medicine and the scientific evidence that supported lifestyle behavior intervention to treat, reverse and prevent noncommunicable chronic diseases,” said ACLM President Dr. Cate Collings, MD, MS, FACC, DipABLM. “She was also the first female president of ACLM, paving the way for women who have served in the leadership role after her. Dr. Lianov put lifestyle medicine on the map and still today strives tirelessly through education and innovation to create a world where lifestyle medicine is the foundation of health and health care.”

Dr. Lianov is a founding board member of the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine, which sets and maintains standards for assessment and credentialing of physicians in lifestyle medicine. She founded and chairs the ACLM Happiness Science and Positive Health Committee and, in association with Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin, hosted a first-of-its kind summit focused on the need to connect positive psychology and health care. The summit led to scholarly publications and a book, “Roots of Positive Change, Optimizing Health Care with Positive Psychology.”

She is the lead faculty for ACLM’s Physician and Health Professional Well-Being course and workshop, and she oversaw the recent update of the Lifestyle Medicine Core Competencies (LMCC) as well as the LMCC course.

An innovator and entrepreneur, Dr. Lianov founded the nonprofit organization, the Global Positive Health Institute, to provide health professionals education, training and tools for integrating positive psychology into lifestyle medicine and other health care settings to facilitate ‘positive health’ – a state of health and wellbeing beyond that achieved by addressing traditional risk factors through additional, independent protective factors. Dr. Lianov also founded HealthType LLC, a company that offers consulting services and creates innovative interventions, including mobile technologies, that assist patients in making sustainable changes to their health behavior.

“It’s a wonderful honor to receive this award from the ACLM and serve with this group of leaders who carry true passion and dedication for transforming health care,” Dr. Lianov said. “Due to the collective vision and hard work of the leadership and the members of the lifestyle medicine community, we’ve seen amazing progress in the decade and a half since our work together began. I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings.”

As he made changes to his own lifestyle habits, Dr. Turner started talking to a nutritionist colleague at the Mayo Clinic who mentioned ACLM, the nation’s medical professional society representing clinicians dedicated to a lifestyle medicine. ACLM defines lifestyle medicine as the evidence-based use of a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, physical activity, restorative sleep, social connection, avoidance of risky substances and stress management. ACLM, which represents more than 7,000 physicians and other clinicians, is the only organization that educates, equips, and supports certification of physicians and other clinicians in lifestyle medicine.

Dr. Turner began talking to patients about their lifestyle habits and explaining the evidence that supported how changes could improve their whole health. During clinical rounds, he visited patients with lifestyle-health related books that could benefit their specific health ailment. Resident doctors accompanying him on rounds would say afterward “I’ve never seen anyone do that before. Can you show me the books you’re using?”

For patients who committed to lifestyle behavior changes, the results were at times astonishing. Patients suffering from severe hypertension enjoyed dramatic decreases in blood pressure and, subsequently significantly reduced the antihypertension medication they required. Patients with chronic kidney disease, diabetes or advanced atherosclerotic vascular disease stabilized their kidney function and did not progress to the point of needing dialysis. Patients with a history of kidney stones were able to prevent stone growth and new stone formation.

At times, Dr. Turner took good-natured ribbing from colleagues — “Here comes Turner with his veggies.” But as health care spending soared, the pandemic raised awareness of the risks of chronic lifestyle-related disease and the evidence grew proving the therapeutic power of lifestyle medicine, interest in the field exploded. ACLM, which had 500 members in 2014, has grown to more than 9,000 practicing in the field. Large health systems are increasingly integrating a therapeutic dose of lifestyle medicine into patient care, employee health and their broader communities.

“Interest in lifestyle medicine is growing not just among clinicians and health systems but among patients who are increasingly understanding that they can make a big difference in their health with small lifestyle changes,” said ACLM President Dr. Cate Collings, MD, MS, FACC, DipABLM. “Dr. Turner’s generous gift to ACLM will help more clinicians gain the knowledge and skills to practice lifestyle medicine and partner with their patients take control of their heath.”

The time is now for lifestyle medicine to become the foundation of health and health care, Dr. Turner said. He hopes his gift to ACLM can help build that foundation.

“ACLM has really become my intellectual home,” Dr. Turner said. “I truly believe lifestyle medicine is the most positive thing happening in the medical space. I am excited to do my part to keep that positive momentum going.”

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