First research center within a major tax-supported state university bridges biomechanics and chiropractic
Pioneers of the profession, the Florida Chiropractic Association, (FCA) Lincoln College Education and Research Fund (LCERF) and Florida State University (FSU) are within thousands of dollars of reaching the million dollar mark to establish funding for the first permanent research center to be housed within a major tax-supported state university. The historical alliance will forever bridge biomechanics and chiropractic, and thus consummate a “million dollar marriage.” Chiropractic Economics proudly presents the following exclusive interview with one of the prominent project’s originators, FCA’s CEO Emeritus, Ed Williams, DC.
Dr. Williams, you’ve been through a lot to reach this goal. In retrospect, what was the most challenging aspect?
The most challenging thing was to raise a million dollars. It just took a lot of perseverance and hard work by many people. Those who have contributed certainly realize the importance of what we’re trying to do. It has been a challenge and I’m really pleased that we’re closing in on the end, although we’ve only been working on this project for approximately three years.
Have any of your goals changed along the way?
No. Our goal with the research center has remained to establish the first of its kind in chiropractic a tax-supported chiropractic research center within a major university. As many of you know, the State of Florida will add an additional $750,000 to the million that we raise.
Interestingly enough, the Florida legislature for the past two years has appropriated $250,000 for the purchase of equipment and so forth. This money does not apply to the sum that we’re raising. From all indications, this support will continue. You’re going to see that on an ongoing basis, the State of Florida will be using its resources to assist us in this endeavor. In my opinion, that’s one of the most important factors.
What are other important aspects of the project?
Number one, the most important thing is that we are coming to the end of something that a lot of people said we never would be able to accomplish. Numerous people said no major university would ever want to do this. Number two: many have said it’s going to be impossible to raise a million dollars from the chiropractic profession. And it certainly looks like we’ve been able to do both, although a lot of naysayers said it couldn’t be done.
Where do we go from here?
First we need to finish raising the money, which will be accomplished by the end of August. The next step involves forming a search committee consisting of members of the chiropractic profession and Florida State University. The committee will then choose the eminent scholar in chiropractic and biomechanical research. Once this individual is determined, the scholar will begin to develop, organize and start-up the research center. The center will be housed within the College of Human Sciences at Florida State and FSU will supply some graduate assistant research personnel, as well as clerical help and the physical building.
What characteristics are you looking for in the eminent scholar?
Number one, according to Florida law, it must be an individual with a PhD. The other quality that we must haveand FSU’s officials certainly agreeit must be an individual with a chiropractic background: A chiropractic degree, as well as a Doctor of Philosophy. It is our intention to attract the most qualified individual that we can possibly retain.
Will this person be in charge of deciding what research is done?
No. This will be determined with input from FSU and the major donorsthe Florida Chiropractic Association and the Lincoln College Education and Research Foundation. It is a joint effort. Under Florida law, the major donor has a tremendous amount of influence on what is done and what is not.
What do you have in mind to see researched right away?
Well to be honest, I haven’t given that much thought. There are so many things that need to be done and those are priorities that we will address once we get the research center open and ongoing. Interestingly enough, FSU received a phone call from a group with the federal government that doles out research money. Their conversation was to the effect that they understood FSU has a chiropractic research center. And of course FSU had to tell them, “No, it’s on the drawing board and will be functional in the next year or two.” The only reason for this group’s call is they had about $3 million they would have liked to give FSU that was earmarked for chiropractic research. With this research center located in conjunction with FSU will attract a tremendous amount of money from the federal government for chiropractic research.
Is it likely the center will be the only one of its kind for awhile?
Yes for awhile, although it doesn’t necessarily indicate there won’t be others. The very fact that we’ve been able to accomplish this goal shows the profession it can be done. I suspect that in a few years, we’ll see it in other states. Of course, that would be wonderful. The Florida Chiropractic Association has always been a bellwether association and Florida leads the nation in getting things done before anybody else. We’re just proud that we’ve set another example. There’s such a demand now for chiropractic we’re becoming a whole lot more recognized on a state and federal level that I think in time, you’ll see it in other locations.
Now that you’re near the million dollar goal, what are the FCA’s plans for future development?
The FCA would like to set-up its own foundation and earmark money to the center for chiropractic research in those areas they feel strongly about. Already a lot of FCA’s leadership, such as those with background in sports injuries and nutrition, have been invited to lecture at FSU, not only to the students, but the faculty as well. I think you’ll see a lot more activity in that regard as time goes by.
What do you see in the future?
I’ve seen a definite movement and definite interestand I continue to predict that within seven years, you’ll see the beginning of a chiropractic college at Florida State University as a result of what we’re doing. It would be the next logical step.
This research center was a project very, very important to me. I have not retired, I’ve just semi-retired. This is one of the things I’ve wanted to see done because I feel it’s just so important to the profession.