NIH News Advisory
National Center for Complementary
and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

Friday, March 8, 2002

NCCAM Press Office
(301) 451-8876

Exploring the Scientific Basis of Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Bethesda, Maryland — The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today the launch of its Distinguished Lecture Series on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).

Stephen E. Straus, M.D. Director of NCCAM will discuss the new CAM lecture series on Monday, March 11, 2002 at 3:00 p.m., during a presentation he will give at the NIH Director's Lecture, titled "Exploring the Scientific Basis of Complementary and Alternative Medicine." His presentation will include an introduction to the field of CAM, and NCCAM's mission, goals and research agenda. He will also discuss the potential for integrating promising CAM therapies with conventional medical practice.

"Scientific investigation into complementary and alternative medicine is groundbreaking for the National Institutes of Health and promises to yield powerful advances for Western medicine," said Dr. Straus. "This lecture series provides the public with a unique opportunity to receive compelling first-hand knowledge from leading experts in the field."

A national survey revealed that in 1997 over 42 percent of the American public used complementary and alternative medicine, at a cost of $27 billion per year, which exceeded out-of-pocket spending for all U.S. hospitalizations. In 1998, the Congress established the NCCAM to stimulate, develop, and support research in CAM for the benefit of the public. The NCCAM is an advocate for high quality science, rigorous and relevant research, and open and objective inquiry into which CAM practices work, which ones do not, and why. Its overriding mission is to give the American public reliable information about the safety and effectiveness of CAM practices.

The new CAM lecture series offers an opportunity for NIH staff, scientists, and the public to come together to learn about current thinking and research, and engage in constructive dialogue about innovative approaches to integrated disease prevention and management.

Dr. Straus's lecture will be held at the Masur Auditorium in the Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center (Building 10), on the NIH campus. The presentation will also be Webcast live on Future lectures will include talks on July 25, by Charles Rosenberg, Ph.D., Professor of the History of Science, and Ernest E. Monrad Professor in the Social Sciences, Harvard University. On November 7, Arthur Kleinman, M.D., Professor of Social Anthropology, Harvard University, and Lillian Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology and Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School will present a talk.

For more information about this lecture series, visit or contact Linda Gaskill by telephone (301) 984-7191 or email at

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is dedicated to exploring complementary and alternative medical (CAM) practices in the context of rigorous science, training CAM researchers and disseminating authoritative information. For additional information, including fact sheets, press releases, and other information about NCCAM, please contact our clearinghouse at 1-888-644-6226 or visit our website at