The Sherman Oaks-based World Research Foundation--founded six years ago by a San Fernando Valley couple who said they wanted to offer people information on traditional and non-traditional medical research worldwide--is sponsoring a conference on "New Directions for Medicine," Friday through Sunday at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel.
More than 500 health professionals and members of the public are expected to pay as much as $350 to attend the conclave that, according to Steven Ross, founder and president of the foundation, will present researchers from around the globe, who will discuss breakthrough treatments for a variety of diseases and conditions.
The program is one way in which Ross and his wife and partner in the foundation, LaVerne, say they help educate the international medical community and the public on health issues. Many of those planning to attend are physicians eager to expand available treatment programs, according to Steven Ross. Others are among the 30,000 individuals or group members who annually use the foundation library.
The library--an extension of the Rosses' interest and personal experience with non-traditional therapies--is located on the fourth floor of an office building at Ventura and Sepulveda boulevards. It houses volumes of books on holistic and other kinds of alternative medicine as well as a computer system that can access, Ross said, 500 computer databases providing information from 5,000 medical journals in more than 100 countries.
The foundation has also established offices in Stuttgart, West Germany, and Hangzhou, China, whose staffs monitor medical findings in their areas of the world, and are available to assist in researching specific searches.
Additionally, according to Ross, the foundation has established an advisory board with members in Africa, Australia, Belgium, Chile, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
For $43, any person or organization may request information on anything from homeopathic reversals for AIDS to microwave resonance therapy in the cure of cancer or alcohol addiction, Ross said.
"The important thing for people to remember about the foundation is that we have no medical position to espouse. All we do is furnish people with research information so that they can be better informed," LaVerne Ross said.
"Because we have information available on what is called 'alternative medicine,' some people think we are promoting that. We are not in the promoting business. We gather and disseminate information from legitimate medical sources," she said.
The Rosses don't deny that they are open to alternative treatments. LaVerne Ross said that she and her husband have had experiences in which physicians prescribed intrusive programs to treat problems that the Rosses eventually found satisfactory non-intrusive ways to alleviate.
"The United States is far behind other countries in some promising research and treatment," she said. "We try to provide people with a broad scope of research."
Steven Ross said, "We have individuals come in or call for information searches on a very personal and specific medical mission, usually hoping to get information that might save a loved one's life."
Individuals searching for hope are not the foundation's only clients, Ross said. "As we become better established and our credibility is known, we have attracted some major corporations that are trying to keep abreast of worldwide medical advances," he said.
One of those major companies is Mutual Benefit Life, an insurance carrier headquartered in Newark, N.J. It is a subscribing member of the foundation and uses the services on an ongoing basis.
"We are interested in anything that will provide better health care for our subscribers in a cost-efficient manner," said Dr. Anthony Tarasenko, Mutual Benefit's medical director.
He said that the foundation's newsletter and conference materials disseminated by the foundation help keep him up to date on what's going on internationally. He added that the foundation has helped set up personal conferences with researchers working on breakthrough projects.
"We consider the foundation an unique and invaluable resource," Tarasenko said, adding that, "Even though some of the information you can request and get from World Research Foundation is available from the National Institutes of Health library, the foundation is able to respond in a timely and economical manner."
The foundation's library was also used as a resource for material for recent City Council hearings on malathion spraying, according to Ross. City Councilman Joel Wachs asked the library to conduct a data search of the international medical literature on the toxic effects of the pesticide on humans. Much of the resulting material was entered into the official record of the hearings.