NIH Office Of Dietary Supplements Expands Research Support

September 25, 1997

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced support for three new research grants to explore the potential role of dietary supplements in health promotion and disease prevention. These new projects bring to eight the number of studies now being funded by the ODS in conjunction with selected NIH Institutes through the NIH Research Enhancement Awards Program.

The Research Enhancement Awards Program (REAP), originally designed by the NIH Office of Research on Women¹s Health, is a process whereby investigator-initiated grant applications are received and reviewed through the standard NIH peer review process. Highly meritorious applications that fall just outside an Institute¹s funding resources and are within the research interest of the ODS can be nominated by NIH Institutes to receive full or partial funding from ODS. The ODS has committed $400,000, or 40 percent of its FY 1997 budget, to support these eight grants in cooperation with seven NIH Institutes.

³These three new grants, along with the five we currently support, will address some of the many unanswered questions about dietary supplements and significantly improve our understanding of the role of dietary supplements in health,² said Dr. Bernadette M. Marriott, Director of the ODS. ³We¹re enthusiastic about the positive reception the Institutes have given the REAP program and their interest in partnering with the ODS in support of these important projects.²

In conjunction with the National Cancer Institute, the ODS is funding a new project at the State University of New York Health Sciences Center in Stony Brook to study in cancer patients the potential benefits and risks of taking supplements of L-arginine, an amino acid. Arginine influences protein synthesis rates and cell proliferation markers, and results of these studies will improve understanding of how supplements of this amino acid may affect tumor stimulation and suppression.

The National Eye Institute and ODS will cosponsor a project at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas that will examine the role of antioxidants in preventing cataract development in persons with diabetes. A key aim of this study will be to determine if antioxidants can prevent the production of specific toxic compounds found in the lens of the diabetic eye.

The ODS will cosponsor with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development a project at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas to measure the benefits of intestinal supplementation of three amino acids--glutamate, glycine and cysteine--in infants with ineffective intestinal metabolic function. The study will help clarify the role of these key amino acids in inhibition and stimulation of glutathione synthesis in the intestinal tract. Glutathione is a substance that may have a protective effect against dietary and bacterial toxins found in infants whose intestinal function may be impaired by disease.

In addition to these three new projects, the ODS will continue its support of five studies begun in 1996, two with the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and one each with the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (see Table 1).

The Office of Dietary Supplements was established at NIH in November 1995 as a result of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act passed by Congress in 1994. The goals of ODS are to explore more fully the potential role of dietary supplements as a significant part of the efforts of the United States to improve health care; promote scientific study of the benefits of dietary supplements in maintaining health and chronic disease; and conduct and coordinate scientific research within the National Institutes of Health relating to dietary supplements. The ODS expects to continue to fund investigator-initiated awards through the REAP program as a means to expand research opportunities in the area of dietary supplements.




Table 1
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Research Enhancement Awards Program (REAP) Awards, FY97

The Office of Dietary Supplements was established at NIH in November 1995 as a result of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act passed by Congress in 1994. The goals of ODS are to explore more fully the potential role of dietary supplements as a significant part of the efforts of the United States to improve health care; promote scientific study of the benefits of dietary supplements in maintaining health and chronic disease; and conduct and coordinate scientific research within the National Institutes of Health relating to dietary supplements.
-end-


NIH/National Institutes of Health

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