History & Founders

The History of Functional Medicine and The Institute for Functional Medicine

In 1990 Jeffrey Bland created the concept of Functional Medicine as a discipline that married progress in basic medical sciences with clinical medicine to address the growing problems associated with chronic disease. In 1991 Jeffrey and Susan Bland founded and funded The Institute for Functional Medicine with the mission to both educate and provide clinical support for the implementation of functional medicine across disciplines within the healthcare sector. The charter of The Institute for Functional Medicine was conceived by its founders as a systems-biology approach to the prevention and management of chronic disease utilizing appropriate tools including nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, environment, structural, cognitive, emotional, and pharmaceutical therapies to meet the individual needs of the patient.

From 1991 to 2001 all financial and staffing support was provided to the Institute by Jeffrey and Susan Bland and their company, HealthComm International, Inc. During this decade the Institute accomplished the following:
  • Presented nine successful International Symposiums on Functional Medicine
  • Completed the extensive process of application for and was awarded accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) for Category 1 continuing medical education credit
  • Established and presented several Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP) training courses
  • Developed the IFM website and the Forum for doctors
  • Engaged in activities in Australia, Asia, and Europe
  • Authored and published three textbooks (Clinical Nutrition, A Functional Medicine Approach; Functional Medicine Approach to Detoxification; and Inflammatory Disorders
  • Developed and published a number of functional medicine clinical protocols for the management of chronic illnesses.
  • Jeff and Susan Bland also donated the 90-minute monthly audio magazine, Functional Medicine Update (FMU), and its revenues to The Institute for Functional Medicine for operational support.
  • Jeff and Susan Bland also funded the establishment of the Functional Medicine Clinical Research center (FMRC) beginning in 1992. Its mission was to develop and test the outcome in both individual case management and clinical trials of functional medicine approaches to chronic diseases.

In 2001 HealthComm merged with its strategic partner, Metagenics, Inc. At that time the Blands chose to withhold IFM from the merger in order to maintain the integrity of its noncommercial mission. The Blands then created the nonprofit foundation which is today’s IFM, gifting all assets and properties to the organization under the terms of a perpetual license. In 2001 Metagenics, Inc. acquired the FMRC as a part of its research and development efforts.

Jeff Bland served as Chairman of the Board of IFM from 1991 until 2007, and Susan Bland served as Secretary-Treasurer for the same period of time. In 2007 both retired from the Board.

In 2011, Jeffrey Bland received the Linus Pauling Functional Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions.

The Institute for Functional Medicine and IFM are marks owned by Jeffrey and Susan Bland, used under exclusive license.