News Briefs

NCCAM’s Research Centers Program Expands

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in Bethesda, MD, has announced six major awards to expand the scope and impact of its research centers portfolio. NCCAM funds Centers of Excellence for Research on CAM and Developmental Centers for Research on CAM. The Centers of Excellence provide five years of support for experienced researchers at some of the nation’s leading universities. These researchers apply technologies to identify the potential benefits and underlying mechanisms of CAM practices. The Developmental Centers provide three years of support to build research programs in some of the nation’s major CAM institutions through partnerships with established research institutions. Following are details of the six recipients of these grants and their first-year funding totals:

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, PhD
Institution: Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

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, PhD
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. They also will 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, MD
Institution: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The center’s goal 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, MD
Partner Institutions: Center for Spirituality and Healing, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; 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, MD
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, PhD
Partner Institutions: University of North Texas Health Science Center’s 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.