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 2022 Summer Edition

CIRM R13 Fellowship Program

5.1. Fellow updates

Zaliha Binti Omar presented on her R13 mentorship experience to the CIRMNG Executive Committee: “Up Close and Personal.” (see 5.4 in this section).

Peter Behel served as a panelist for neurobiology of pain signal transmission reviewing applications in Chronic Pain Management for the Academy of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback that took place in Irving, Texas on March 26.

Peter Behel and colleagues also presented at Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB) 52nd Annual Scientific Meeting: Thriving Together Again, Irving, Texas. March 23-26. “Applications in Chronic Pain Management.”

Joan van Rotterdam has been elected to be the CIRM NG Executive Committee Secretary.

• R13 Fellow Joan became a grandmother. Her grandchild was born on 12th March weighing_3.29kg and named Morgan Jackie

5.2. R13 Fellows

5.3. R13 Mentors

5.4. R13 fellow experience

“Up  Close and personal” — My Fellow Experience in NIH R13 Mentoring Program
Zaliha Omar
(A fellow in Complementary Integrative Rehabilitation Medicine (CIRM) Mentoring & Career Development Fellowship Program)


I come from Malaysia, and I am currently based in Japan where I am doing Graduate Studies in Geriatric Rehabilitation at Fujita Health University. In November 2019, I attended my very first ACRM Annual Conference in Chicago, thanks to Christine Macdonell who had introduced ACRM to me. To be in the ACRM family seemed apt when I reflect on the benefits of networking since my early days in rehabilitation starting in the landmark year 1981, the United Nations International Year of Disabled Persons. I felt that colleagues and patients in my network at home and many from the low- and middle-income countries in the ASEAN region can potentially benefit through my presence in ACRM.

I was nonetheless overwhelmed by what I saw and heard at my first Annual ACRM Conference in 2019 and I desired to be an ACRMian. I quickly drew into my own space in the International Geriatric Networking group which was then relatively new in the 97-year-old ACRM. It concurred with the initial goal of bringing myself to that conference, i.e., to look for opportunities to collaborate in geriatric rehabilitation academia.

It was through the regular meetings and correspondences of the International Geriatric Network that I stumbled upon a chance to get into yet another dynamic section of ACRM, the CIRM Task Force. The extended dateline for application for the R13DCIRM Mentoring and Career Development Fellowship meant I was in time to apply for it. It’s now been about six months into the fellowship, and I am well immersed into it; in fact, I have begun to reap tangible benefits already and thoroughly enjoy the time I am spending and the work I am doing with many around me in the network.

The Focus of R13 DCIRM Mentoring and Career Development Fellowship

At the outset the objectives and goals of the fellowship was made clear to us, and I love it that way with any collaborative work, so I can best figure out my commitment to the group. The mentorship quickly took shape through the regular meetings and new dedicated ones. My learning curve steeped up with the new lessons and assignments in the CIRM scoping review project. I had no hesitation about volunteering to co-lead the research along with Pooja when Carmen prepared for her temporary absence from our group. In Malaysia we call this durian runtuh. I have always believed in getting involved first-hand to enhance learning a new experience. It can’t be more difficult than the last similar experience I had in 2005 when I accepted to be President of the Gardening Society of my city at home – gardening was something I hardly practiced then! But within the 2-year term that I had served, I had learnt a zillion things about “all plants grow with love”, the tagline of our gardening society that had existed well before I was born!

Our scoping review team of 13 hails from all over the world – Australia through Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, and all over the USA. The time zones don’t matter one bit and we are progressing with the implementation of our plans and more, irrespective of where the COVID-19 pandemic is heading. We have submitted the scoping review for a symposium at the 99th annual ACRM conference 2022. All team members are committed to the Covidence training we recently did, so we are all on one page with regards to the stepped-up process of our scoping review protocol. The advantages of diverse professional membership and experience within our team have surfaced and our mentors are hooked on providing us with much support and motivation.

I for one do not want to miss out of the fun of connecting in person come November 2022 smack in the windy city and the Japanese party that is being planned I believe. Fun awaits all of us alright and I am so looking forward to being at ACRM Fall, 2022. Can’t wait to share my reflections on systems thinking in networking, governance, and processes through the CIRM fellowship that has so eloquently evolved linking mentors and mentees so neatly together. At a personal level, the nawaitu (Arabic: intention) and ikigai (Japanese: motivating force) that I have always adhered to have certainly built the resilience I badly need in this prevailing COVID-19 time. Further, I had been able to work towards my goal of collaborating in CIRM academic work – 2 scoping reviews progressing well and an IEP that I had submitted. I must acknowledge the invaluable advice and practical pointers that I receive from the great mentorship of Sonya Kim, Patricia Heyn and William Reed and others of course. I am most grateful to Terri Compost especially who is a trouble shooter par excellence. I treasure the sincere sharing amongst peers in the CIRM registry and Social Cohesion whom I am glued to now. The support given by NCCIH to ACRM for this R13DCIRM Mentoring and Career Development Fellowship is very much appreciated. Most of all I am grateful for this flow in my life-long learning and the cascade that has been created by the warmth of the constantly flowing streams.