NCCAM funds Centers of Excellence for Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine

October 29, 2003

Bethesda, MD--The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has made the first two awards in a new program to establish Centers of Excellence for Research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The purpose of these new centers is to bring the highest level of scientific rigor to research on CAM. While millions of Americans are using CAM, few of these practices have been tested for safety and effectiveness. These centers will help address this critical public health need.

NCCAM, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), established the Centers of Excellence to support established researchers in applying cutting-edge technologies to explore the underlying mechanisms and potential benefits of CAM practices, which are often used to address critical public health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and chronic pain.

"The establishment of these first Centers of Excellence is testimony to the continuing maturation of research on CAM. Highly accomplished investigators at major research institutions are dedicating themselves to exploring CAM. The field needs this enhanced level of experience and rigor to transform the promise of CAM into proven treatments," said Stephen E. Straus, M.D., NCCAM Director.

The first two 5-year grants in this program, funded using the NIH Program Project (P01) mechanism, were awarded to: "These awards will provide exciting new opportunities for experienced scientists to investigate fundamental questions related to CAM," said Margaret A. Chesney, Ph.D., NCCAM Deputy Director. "The Centers of Excellence will help us better understand the mechanisms of action of several CAM modalities, a step that is critical to further research and, ultimately, to integration into prevention and treatment."

The Centers of Excellence initiative is one of three new NCCAM research center programs. They were implemented following the review of the NCCAM centers program by an expert panel in 2002. The panel reviewed the original CAM centers that were established shortly after creation of NCCAM in 1999. Based on the lessons learned from these first centers, and in response to the evolving opportunities and challenges in CAM research, the expert panel recommended a more diverse platform of approaches to support research centers and a sharpened focus on their pursuit of original science. In response to these recommendations, NCCAM designed the following three new programs to build its next generation of research centers:Announcements of awards for the latter two new programs will be made separately.
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The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of rigorous science, training CAM researchers, and disseminating authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCAM's Clearinghouse toll free at 1-888-644-6226 or visit the NCCAM Web site at www.nccam.nih.gov.

NIH/National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

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