To foster and encourage high quality and rigorous research on CAM therapies, a request for applications was released on September 24, 1998 the NCCAM, in cooperation with six NIH Institutes and Centers invited researchers to submit grant applications through the P50 mechanism to establish specialized Centers for CAM Research. The P50 grant mechanism supports a full range of research and development from basic to clinical and intervention studies.
Following scientific peer review and council approval of grant applications, the following five institutions were awarded grants, each totaling approximately $7.5 million, to be distributed incrementally over a five year period.
"These Specialized Centers of Research will assemble critical masses of basic and clinical scientists to work together collaboratively with institutions to conduct clinical studies into complementary and alternative (CAM) approaches for a variety of health conditions," said Richard L. Nahin, Ph.D., M.P.H., acting director of the NCCAM's division of extramural research, training and review. "They will also encourage alternative medicine practitioners and research scientists to conduct relevant joint research projects," Dr. Nahin concluded.
The principal characteristics of a P50 Center include: (1) a strong, focused scientific program encompassing basic and clinical research that will have a clear impact on human disease and associated quality of life or disability issues; (2) a strong, innovative program to establish and monitor developmental and feasibility studies that can respond quickly to new research opportunities; (3) a strong career development program to develop and expand the scientific cadre of investigators dedicated to research on a specific disease entity or biomedical problem; (4) shared core facilities that increase the functional capacity of the Center; and (5) a willingness and commitment to work with other Centers and scientists in order to maximize research progress.
The first year goals for each Center include the development of an organizational structure and operating plan. The second and third years will focus on the execution and evaluation of programmatic objectives. Each Center will support a broad range of basic, clinical and intervention studies in CAM research and development, as well as evaluate research opportunities in their speciality area, and developing a prioritized research agenda. It is expected that research conducted at these Centers will examine the potential efficacy, safety, and validity of CAM practices, as well as the physiological or psychological mechanisms underlying these practices.
The addition of these five new Centers brings the total number of clinical research centers supported by the NCCAM to nine. Research findings derived from these studies will be published in the scientific literature and disseminated to the public.
The NCCAM is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.