New Centers Expand and Strengthen NCCAM's Research Centers Program

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) today announced six major awards to expand the scope and impact of its research centers portfolio. With these new awards, NCCAM, the component of the National Institutes of Health whose mission is the study of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), is continuing the commitment it made in 2003 to enhance CAM research capacity by funding centers at institutions across the country.

Among the types of centers NCCAM funds are Centers of Excellence for Research on CAM and Developmental Centers for Research on CAM. The Centers of Excellence provide 5 years of support for experienced researchers at some of the Nation's leading universities. These researchers apply cutting-edge technologies to identify the potential benefits and underlying mechanisms of CAM practices. The Developmental Centers provide 3 years of support to build research programs in some of the Nation's major CAM institutions through partnerships with established research institutions.

"NCCAM's research centers occupy a central role in fulfilling our mission by supporting studies of CAM approaches for a wide variety of diseases and conditions, by training new researchers, and by establishing research partnerships," said Stephen E. Straus, M.D., NCCAM Director. "The addition of these six centers to NCCAM's portfolio strengthens our research in osteopathy, dietary supplements, mind-body medicine, and acupuncture, for major public health conditions including HIV/AIDS, cancer, asthma, chronic pain, alcoholism, and drug addiction."

Details on the six recipients of these grants and their first year funding totals are listed below.

Centers of Excellence for Research on CAM

Center on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Stress Arousal, and Immune Response in Early HIV; $1,198,000
Principal Investigator: Susan Folkman, Ph.D.
Institution: Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA
This center will investigate the use of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, an approach in which meditation is used to help reduce stress and better manage emotions, in people with early stage HIV. The center will examine the effects of meditation on the immune system and determine whether it can help slow disease progression and delay the need for antiretroviral treatment.

Alternative Therapies for Alcohol and Drug Abuse; $1,071,000
Principal Investigator: Yue-Wei Lee, Ph.D.
Institution: McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA
(co-funded with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
Center investigators will evaluate whether certain traditional Chinese medicines and an electrical acupuncture technique can be used to prevent addiction relapse and craving for alcohol and drugs of abuse. They will also seek to determine the physiological mechanisms by which these Chinese medical treatments affect addictive behavior.

Translational Research Center for CAM Therapy of Asthma; $1,200,000
Principal Investigator: David Peden, M.D.
Institution: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
The goal of the center is to conduct basic and clinical research to identify antioxidant CAM therapies for asthma. The researchers will investigate whether these treatments can minimize airway inflammation in response to common triggers of asthma, such as ozone or inhaled allergens.

Developmental Centers for Research on CAM

Trametes Versicolor (mushroom)-Induced Immunopotentiation; $777,000
Principal Investigator: Joel Slaton, M.D.
Partner Institutions: University of Minnesota, Center for Spirituality and Healing, Minneapolis, MN, and Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA
This center will conduct laboratory, translational, and clinical research exploring the biological basis of the effects of mushroom extracts on the immune system's response to tumors and the feasibility of using the extracts for cancer therapy and reduction of radiation therapy side effects.

Complementary/Alternative Medicine: Expectancy and Outcome; $840,000
Principal Investigator: Barry Oken, M.D.
Partner Institutions: Oregon Health and Science University, National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, and Western States Chiropractic College,
Portland, OR.
This center will focus on defining and understanding "placebo effects," particularly patient expectation and other factors related to patient-provider interactions that produce desired biological effects. Investigators will study placebo effects to develop strategies to maximize their benefit, improve clinical trial design, and gain insight into mechanisms underlying mind-body medicine.

Mechanisms of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine; $620,000
Principal Investigator: Michael Smith, Ph.D.
Partner Institutions: University of North Texas Health Science Center and Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, Fort Worth, TX, and Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, Glendale, AZ
This center will conduct laboratory, animal, and patient studies of the effects of osteopathic manipulation on the musculoskeletal system, lymphatic fluid flow, and reduction of pain from back and neck strain. Researchers will also study the potential beneficial effects of improved lymph flow.

"These new centers bring the highest level of scientific rigor to research on CAM," said Margaret A. Chesney, Ph.D., NCCAM Deputy Director. "While millions of Americans are using CAM, few practices have been tested sufficiently for safety and effectiveness. These six new centers will help address this critical public health need."

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative medical (CAM) 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

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