On November 7, 2006, Stephen E. Straus, M.D., Director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), stepped down from his leadership of the Center for health reasons. Straus will become Senior Advisor to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
“Steve Straus has done a tremendous job in creating and leading NCCAM. His total dedication, superb intelligence, extraordinary vision, high energy, and singular wit are all qualities that make him an extraordinary leader,” said Dr. Zerhouni. “Steve has been one of my most trusted advisors, and I will continue to rely on his experience and perspective.”
During his tenure as NCCAM’s first Director, Dr. Straus built a comprehensive research enterprise, championing the efforts to establish the safety and efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices while upholding the rigorous standards of science for which the NIH is known. Under his term of leadership from 1999–2006, CAM research at NIH grew threefold.
Dr. Straus led the evolution of CAM science beyond the advocacy and skepticism and polarization it once engendered to earned legitimacy as a research area. Studies encompassing a wide range of CAM practices including mind-body medicine, biologically based and manipulative practices, whole medical systems, and energy medicine have resulted in more than 1500 papers published in peer-reviewed journals. Results of NCCAM’s first large clinical trials showed the effectiveness of acupuncture and glucosamine/chondroitin for osteoarthritis of the knee.
Dr. Zerhouni has named Ruth L. Kirschstein, M.D., formerly the Acting Director of NIH, to be the Acting Director of NCCAM. Dr. Kirschstein has also served as the director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
An article about Dr. Straus’ departure appears in the latest issue of CAM at the NIH.