Sian Cotton, PhD
Sian Cotton, PhD, is founder and director of the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and UC Health Integrative Medicine Center. She has devoted her career to the ways the mind and body can work together to prevent disease, to thwart pain and to heal chronic diseases.
She has been described as “iconic in her interest in change, research, and in new ways to promote wellness and health.” Modeling the behavior she teaches, Dr. Cotton is a devotee of vegetarian nutrition, yoga, mindfulness and daily exercise. When she takes a walk, she practices mindfulness, shunning external stimuli such as ear buds in order to focus on the peace and spiritual resonance of the life-sustaining breath.
Dr. Cotton regularly lectures to and serves as a research mentor to medical students, residents and graduate students. As a professor of family and community medicine, she wants health professional students to understand that their knowledge of nutrition, exercise and stress reduction can be of as much benefit to their patients as a prescription for a medication. As a clinical psychologist, she has helped children, adolescents and adults cope with a wide range of medical and psychiatric conditions.
A passionate researcher credited with more than 50 publications and 3 book chapters, Dr. Cotton oversees studies focused on mind-body interventions and practice-based outcomes in integrative medicine. She has been awarded and involved in grants to teach mindfulness to adolescents at risk of developing bipolar disorder, to improve faculty and student wellness and promote resilience, to improve the management of chronic pain in the primary care setting, to explore stress management as a seizure-reduction therapy for people with epilepsy, and to facilitate a breathing retraining intervention for African-American adolescents with asthma.
She serves on the Board of Directors of the Academic Consortium of Integrative Medicine and Health, the leading international organization representing academic health centers and health systems committed to advancing integrative medicine and health.
Dr. Sian (pronounced Shawn) Cotton graduated from Smith College with degrees in psychology and music in 1993. She earned her doctorate from the California School of Professional Psychology in 2000 and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral medicine and clinical psychology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2002. She served as Associate Director of the Center for Adolescent Health at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine until 2004, then returned to Cincinnati and joined the Departments of Family and Community Medicine and Pediatrics at UC as a health outcomes researcher.
Her vision for a local center for integrative health became a reality in 2013, when she was invited to create a new program for UC and UC Health. The center today incudes 27 affiliated faculty members across 12 departments, including oncology,neurosurgery, cardiology and psychiatry. They advise patients about comprehensive ways to improve their health through better nutrition, exercise and reduced stress.
The program continues to expand, with integrative medicine services now offered to patients and the community at the Barrett Cancer Center on UC’s Clifton campus, the Women’s Center in West Chester and The Wellness Center at the Midtown Campus. Services offered include physician consults, integrative psychology, nutrition, massage therapy, acupuncture, and mindfulness training.
Educational programs, also expanding in novel ways, now include a gleaming, state-of-the-art teaching kitchen at Turner Farm, an organic farm on the outskirts of Cincinnati. Here, in a kitchen created with consultation from the Culinary Institute of America, the Center and Turner Farm offer a collaborative, hands-on “Wellness at the Farm” series for medical students and members of the community. Professional chefs teach students, health professionals and families affected by cancer to cook with fresh, nutrition-rich, unprocessed foods, while Integrative Medicine faculty help them discover the scientific evidence underlying the health benefits of healthy living.
Dr. Cotton lives in Cincinnati with her husband, Brian Riker, PhD, and their three children.