An Osteopathic Family
Christopher Amen (D.O. ’18) is the first to admit he has very large shoes to fill. The NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) graduate comes from a family of osteopaths and trailblazers.
“My grandmother Eileen was the only female to graduate from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University in 1959,” he says proudly. It was there where she met Amen’s grandfather, Joe DiGiovanna, a maverick in his own right. DiGiovanna survived polio as a child, and his mobility was compromised as a result. Nevertheless, he built a successful practice as a family physician and worked for 42 years, spending most hours on his feet.
Being the grandson of osteopathic medicine pioneers might be overwhelming for some, but Amen has adopted his family history as motivation. “I was lucky enough to be gifted with the uncompromising stubbornness and willful determination of my grandparents,” he jokes.
In addition to a legacy of osteopathic medicine (he has an aunt and uncle who are also D.O.s), Amen’s family has deep roots at NYIT. His grandmother Eileen became the dean of student affairs at NYITCOM and created the Émigré Physicians Program, which retrains doctors from other countries to become D.O.s in America without having to go through undergraduate studies.
Among her many achievements, she was the author of An Osteopathic Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment with co-authors Stanley Schiowitz, D.O., and Dennis Dowling, D.O. Amen, who is committed to preserving his family’s legacy of excellence, is in the process of finishing an updated version of the book.
Amen is also forging his own path: He is in an advanced specialty training in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Stony Brook University; the primary investigator on a research paper aimed at integrating the science of evidence-based medicine into fitness, weight loss, and cardiovascular training; and collaborating with Redefine Fitness, a start-up personal training company whose goal is to create a medical fitness program based on published scientific research.
“Current medical practice trains physicians to tell their patients to ‘please exercise,’ and ‘please lose weight,’” says Amen. “By integrating evidence-based research and published scientific data from the numerous scientific databases, we aim to create specific guidelines which highlight the most advanced, up-to-date research on exercise and fitness. I also plan on using the data to create a standardized set of guidelines for physicians to provide to their patients.”
As proud he is of his family’s past, Amen is excited about the new information scientific advancement is affording today’s doctors. “As science progresses and the benefits of exercise training are discovered, research has begun to bridge the gap between exercise and medicine,” he says. “It has helped advance our understanding of how exercise should be performed depending on people’s goals.”
And his work doesn’t end there. “I [also] plan on creating an osteopathic orthopedic medical group that would offer complete medical care at one facility,” he says. “I find the current paradigm of referring patients to three to four specialists superfluous and inefficient. The future of medicine is in complete care facilities and that’s what I plan to pioneer.”