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NCCAM Expands Research Centers Program with Three Centers of Excellence and Two International Centers


The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) announces funding of three centers of excellence and two international centers for the study of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). With these new awards NCCAM, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), continues to enhance CAM research capacity by funding centers at leading U.S. institutions and by establishing new global partnerships.

Three of the five new centers will explore therapies used in traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture and Chinese herbal mixtures. The other two centers will study a type of energy medicine (millimeter wave therapy) and botanical therapies used by traditional healers in Africa.

“We are excited by the addition of these centers to our research program and the unique collaborations and approaches they bring to studies of CAM practices,” said Stephen E. Straus, M.D., NCCAM Director. “All five centers will strengthen our research portfolio for major health problems — HIV/AIDS, arthritis, asthma, and pain. Plus, the new international centers will conduct basic and clinical studies of promising CAM interventions drawn from traditional medicine indigenous to the locations of international partners.”

Centers of Excellence for Research on CAM
The three new 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 three new centers and their first year funding totals are:

Center for Arthritis and Traditional Chinese Medicine; $1,197,651
Principal Investigator: Brian Berman, M.D.
Institution: University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD

This center will study traditional Chinese medicine approaches — acupuncture and herbs — for the treatment of arthritis. Researchers will conduct a clinical trial of an 11-herb Chinese formula (known as HLXL) for osteoarthritis of the knee; assess acupuncture’s effect on inflammatory pain in an animal model; and study the efficacy of HLXL in an animal model of autoimmune arthritis.

Center for Chinese Herbal Therapy; $1,144,274
Principal Investigator: Xiu-Min Li, M.D.
Institution: Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY

Center researchers will investigate a three-herb Chinese formula (known as ASHMI) as a therapy for allergic asthma. Studies of the herbal formula will look at mechanism of action in an animal model, characterize the herbs’ active components, and investigate the formula’s use in asthma patients.

Center for Mechanisms Underlying Millimeter Wave Therapy; $1,025,895
Principal Investigator: Marvin Ziskin, M.D.
Institution: Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA

This center will study the mechanisms of action of millimeter wave therapy (use of low-intensity millimeter wavelength electromagnetic waves) for a variety of diseases and conditions, as well as looking at the therapy’s use in animal models of chronic neuropathic pain and pruritis (itching).
International Centers for Research on CAM
The International Centers for Research on CAM are the outgrowth of planning grants awarded by NCCAM to 11 international teams in 2003. These teams had 2 years to develop a research collaboration and infrastructure that could compete for 4-year centers grants. The recipients of these international centers grants will now carry out research on CAM and traditional medicine practices in countries where the practices are indigenous. These partnerships between researchers in U.S. and foreign institutions will address whether the traditional practices can aid in health care locally and globally and build CAM research capacity internationally. Co-funders for these centers include NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements, Office of AIDS Research, and Fogarty International Center. In addition, the National Cancer Institute will fund a third international center.

The two NCCAM recipients and their first year funding totals are:

Functional Bowel Disorders in Chinese Medicine; $807,253
Principal Investigator: Brian Berman, M.D
Partner Institutions: University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD; Chinese University of Hong Kong, China; University of Illinois, Chicago, IL; University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia

This center will conduct multidisciplinary research on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practices — acupuncture and herbs — for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Researchers will study effects of acupuncture and a TCM herbal preparation in an animal model of IBS and conduct a preliminary study of the herbal preparation with IBS patients.

The International Center for Indigenous Phytotherapy Studies: HIV/AIDS, Secondary Infections and Immune Modulation; $1,100,000
Principal Investigator: William Folk, Ph.D.
Partner Institutions: University of Missouri, Columbia, MO; University of the Western Cape, Bellville, Republic of South Africa; along with University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Cape Town, and the South African Medical Research Council

This center will study the safety and efficacy of traditional African plant-based therapies already in wide-spread use for HIV/AIDS and some of its secondary infections. Researchers will conduct a small clinical trial using sutherlandia (Lessertia frutescens) in adults with HIV and conduct preclinical and clinical research with African wormwood (Artemisia afra), which is used by traditional healers for treatment of many conditions seen in people with HIV/AIDS.
The National Cancer Institute will fund the:

International Center of Traditional Chinese Medicine for Cancer
Principal Investigator: Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D.
Partner Institutions: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX; Fudan University Cancer Hospital, Shanghai, China

This center will conduct preclinical and clinical studies of TCM approaches — herbs, acupuncture, and qi gong — for treating cancer and its symptoms, as well as treatment-related side effects.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s mission is to explore complementary and alternative medical practices in the context of rigorous science, train CAM researchers, and disseminate 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 NCCAM is 1 of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health, the Federal focal point for medical research in the United States.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation’s Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit


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