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Leila’s teaching, research experience and interests are eclectic and broad, all connected by a passion for bridging mind and heart, science and spirituality. Her teaching and research have focused on understanding the depths of human connection within intimate relationships as well as within relationships in the medical environment. Her interests include consciousness and spirituality, the new science of love and intimate relationships, the transformation of the culture of care and patient experience through patient-centered and relationship-centered care, and the implementation of evidence-based complementary and integrative medicine in palliative, end of life and geriatric care.


Leila has been a teacher, researcher, organizational consultant and practitioner in the field of complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) for the last 35+ years. Initially trained as a researcher in psycho-physiology/stress physiology in Argentina, she walked simultaneously in between the “two worlds” of mainstream medical research and that of mysticism, healing arts and the esoteric wisdom. Between ages 18-28, Leila completed her academic degrees and internship at the Stress Physiology Lab at the Instituto de Biologia y Medicina Experimental (IBYME), while simultaneously becoming an apprentice of a “curandera” (shaman) who taught her how to use herbal medicine. Exploring an array of spiritual traditions and healing modalities, she was deeply influenced by theosophy and the work of Alice Bailey, studying of shamanic traditions, Zen Buddhism and the work of Krishnamurti. She became a massage therapist and a tai chi/qigong and meditation practitioner and instructor, received training in and practiced energy healing and distant intention healing, completed a 2-year medical training in clinical homeopathy, and became an avid student and practitioner of the intuitive art and science of soul-centered astrology. Through a dream, she was called to integrate her healing intention practice along with homeopathy and her soul-centered astrology skills, resulting in a short stint as an “Aquarian Healer.”


In 1990 Leila migrated from Buenos Aires to Canada and in 1995 to the US, carrying out research in Chinese medicine at the Rosenthal Center for Complementary Medicine at Columbia University School of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, where she also designed and taught the first academic course on Tai Chi for Medical Practitioners. Moving to Washington state in 1999, she carried out EEG/fMRI research funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)/NIH investigating the effects of distant intention on the physiology of emotionally bonded people and later co-founded with Dr. Leanna Standish the Bastyr University/University of Washington Consciousness Research Lab. She also carried out with Dr. Standish a randomized trial of massage and meditation with hospice patients, a collaboration between Bastyr University and the University of Washington funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at NIH. Leila always kept a busy teaching schedule and taught courses in mind-body medicine, consciousness research, and science and spirituality at the Bastyr University Psychology Department, the Spirituality, Health and Medicine Department and at Saybrook Graduate School. 


Leila received her PhD in Psychology from Saybrook University in 2007. In 2009, she was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship in Evaluation of Complementary & Integrative Medicine at the Center of Excellence in Outcomes Research in Older Adults, VA Puget Sound Health Care System. Between 2012-2019, she was a Clinical Champion and later a Whole Health National Champion and integrative therapies subject matter expert (tai chi/qigong and aromatherapy) for the Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation and the Integrative Health Coordinating Center at VA Central Office (VACO). Among other projects, she designed a nationally deployed system at the VA that is currently used to track research outcomes from integrative therapies that did not have a CPT code. Through her work at the VA, she was principal investigator (PI) of a study investigating a multimedia program to teach caregivers of Veterans with cancer how to provide massage for comfort at home (“Touch, Caring & Cancer” program) and site PI for a multi-site study investigating an online program teaching integrative therapies for pain management and PTSD to Veteran couples. She led a culture-transformation project that brought together 20 VA medical centers and nursing homes from 5 different regions that worked together to develop implementation toolkits for touch therapies/massage and biofield therapies. 


She is an affiliate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Family Medicine Department, where she has been teaching in the areas of patient-centered care, integrative palliative care, mind-body medicine, and spirituality to palliative and geriatric physicians and nurses for the last 10 years. She has evaluated hundreds of patient-centered and integrative health care projects, served as a subject matter expert in numerous VA task forces and committees, and developed numerous continuing medical education programs, webinars, medical education videos and integrative therapy implementation toolkits. She has facilitated cultural transformation and implementation of integrative patient-driven care (“Whole Health”) in the VA system at local, regional and national levels.


Leila has led eight NIH- and VA-funded projects in integrative oncology, palliative care and geriatrics, including the NCI-sponsored project “Integrative Approaches in Palliative Care: Provider-Driven Online Continuing Education.” As a result of this project, Leila has co-founded and is the current director of the Integrative Palliative Care Institute (IPCI), a medical education and advocacy organization. IPCI’s mission is to transform the culture of care in palliative, geriatric and end of life care by educating health care providers about evidence-based integrative therapies for palliative care. IPCI first product will be a 9-module program in collaboration with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) that will be available to palliative care providers by September 2021.


Leila has recently retired from the VA to continue her work in integrative palliative care education and to pursue research and teaching in the field of the “new science of love.” This work has brought a new dimension to her Saybrook research on human connection. Leila is excited about this new development, working together with her life partner, teaching and mentoring couples who have undergone divorce and who are pursuing relationship education as a means to repair their bond, and to create a fulfilling intimate relationship.  


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