Bethesda, MD—The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is forging new partnerships between complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) institutions and major research universities in an innovative effort to advance research on widely used CAM practices. The first two Developmental Centers for Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (DCRC) will help to build a collaborative CAM research community that will enhance the scientific rigor in this field.
“These new Centers provide a vehicle for scientists in CAM institutions to partner with established investigators in conventional research institutions to conduct rigorous exploratory and developmental research projects on CAM,” said Margaret A. Chesney, Ph.D., NCCAM Deputy Director. “The DCRC is one of three types of NCCAM Research Centers that will offer research flexibility, promote collaboration, and expand NCCAM’s research program,” she added.
The purpose of the DCRC initiative is to:
- Increase the level and quality of CAM research by assisting CAM institutions, researchers, and practitioners in conducting high-quality research;
- Promote research expertise and infrastructure within the CAM community; and
- Support enhanced communication and partnerships between CAM and conventional medical research institutions so that established researchers will gain the clinical and cultural perspectives needed to undertake CAM research.
The first two 3-year grants in the DCRC initiative have been awarded to:
- Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research, Davenport, IA
Principal Investigator: William Meeker, D.C., M.P.H.
This DCRC will focus on the mechanisms of action and effects of chiropractic manipulation (adjusting the spine from different positions using varying degrees of force), especially for the common problem of low back pain. Scientists at the Palmer Chiropractic University will collaborate with investigators at the University of Iowa, Kansas State University, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and the National University of Health Sciences in Illinois. The total award is approximately $2.3 million.
- New England School of Acupuncture, Watertown, MA
Principal Investigator: Peter M. Wayne, Ph.D.
This Center will evaluate the efficacy and safety of acupuncture, develop methodologies and study designs required for acupuncture research, and address the benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of women’s health problems. This Center will build upon collaborations between clinicians and scientists at the New England School of Acupuncture, the Osher Institute at Harvard Medical School, and two other major Harvard-affiliated institutions, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital (Boston). The total award is approximately $2.0 million.
These first two DCRCs demonstrate dynamic and committed partnerships between CAM and conventional institutions. This program is also expected to develop and strengthen preliminary CAM research studies that will lead to the submission of competitive R01 grant applications to NIH, the benchmark for a mature research program.
The DCRC 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 that NCCAM adopt a flexible approach to structuring and supporting research centers and encourage a greater focus on the pursuit of original science. In response to these recommendations, and based on the goals of its strategic plans, NCCAM designed the following three new programs to build its next generation of research centers:
- Developmental Centers for Research on CAM (DCRC) specifically for CAM institutions;
- Centers of Excellence for Research on CAM (CERC) for established research organizations; and
- Planning Grants for International Centers for Research on CAM (PICRC) to stimulate U.S.-international research partnerships.
Announcements of awards for the latter two new programs will be made separately.
“The creation of these first Developmental Research Centers will be viewed as a transforming event in the national CAM research agenda,” said Stephen E. Straus, M.D., NCCAM Director. “In forging alliances in which the perspectives of CAM practitioners and those of seasoned investigators are melded into robust research teams, we are pursuing our goal of a more integrated approach to medicine.”