NCCAM, like all NIH Institutes and Centers, receives investigator-initiated applications for research funding that are based on ideas formulated by the applicant. As you might imagine, the research grant applications for complementary approaches cover quite a diverse and broad field.
Through NCCAM’s Third Strategic Plan, published in 2011, we have sought to clearly communicate the areas of research that we feel are ripe for investment now. The plan provides us with a roadmap for our research strategy and includes a framework of four factors we use to sharpen the focus of our research investments. These factors help NCCAM and our national advisory council to:
- Identify and plan targeted research initiatives
- Locate gaps in knowledge to help shape future research
- Balance the funding of specific initiatives with the funding of projects based on researchers’ creative ideas.
These factors, and some examples of questions NCCAM might ask related to each factor, are as follows:
- Scientific Promise
How strong is the body of evidence supporting the concept?
- Amenability to Rigorous Scientific Inquiry
Are there reliable and reproducible methods—e.g., for diagnostics, outcome measures, biological effects, quality control?
- Potential to Change Health Practices
Is it reasonably likely that the results will make a difference to consumers, providers, or policymakers?
- Relationship to Use and Practice
Do the methods and approaches actually address the most important questions about use or practice in the real world?
I strongly urge anyone seeking NCCAM research funding to review their applications in light of these factors. NCCAM’s current portfolio reflects how these four factors are shaping our research investments.