Integrative Medicine, Complementary Alternative Medicine and Health Round-up February 2012 featuring the topics of:   Policy, Research, Integerative Centers, Integrative healthcare professions, academic medicine and health, healthcare media updates, CAM research, practice and people.

Report finds NIH invests over $120-million in CAM-related cancer research 

The article by Libin Jia, the manager of many international programs of the Office of Cancer and Complementary Medicine (OCCAM), is entitled Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research at the US National Cancer Institute.  Jia reports that “in recent years, NCI has spent around $120 million each year on various CAM-related research projects on cancer prevention, treatment, symptom/side effect management and epidemiology.” Roughly 85% targets vitamins, minerals and “pharmacological and biological treatments.” Mind-body medicine is the most significant therapy explored. The article includes useful breakdowns by organ system as well as type of therapy. The author’s interest in Chinese medicine shapes the back end of the article. (Note:Thanks to adviser Paolo Roberti di Sarsina, MD for sending the link.)   

Comment from Integrator editorial adviser Glenn Sabin, of FON Therapeutics, and board member, Society for Integrative Oncology:

“A useful report evidently supported and vetted by OCCAM and its director, Jeffrey White, MD, who was thanked at the end for reviewing the work. Interesting to note that OCCAM’s annual research budget to investigate cancer specifically is close to NCCAM’s $128M. White states elsewhere that approximately $500M of NIH/NCI’s total $5B is annually put toward investigating cancer “CAM”. 

“Also interesting that almost 60% of this research goes toward ‘prevention’. Only a mere 0.7% of this funding is used to look at ‘alternative medical systems’, which, in addition to naturopathy, Ayurveda, TCM and homeopathy, presumably includes integrative medicine and integrative oncology whole systems. This is troubling to this staunch proponent of the rigorous scientific inquiry into comprehensive whole systems-aligned with how true integrated care is provided in clinic.  The bioactive synergistic effects of whole systems delivery cannot be properly examined in a reductive manner.  Perhaps under the rubric of ACA-CER, PCORI, ACOs and PCMHs-early compelling outcomes and proven cost-effectiveness will lead to a substantive investment that allows for proper inquiry into integrative whole systems v. standard of care. 

“Meanwhile, more useful than this helpful report would be to know how these findings around nutrition, herbs, exercise and more have been or will be translated RIGHT NOW to clinical application.  What happens with this data after the results are tallied and published?  Who is charged with making appropriate recommendations to practitioners?  Or are clinicians always left to their own devices while waiting for larger studies that are so hard to get funded?  Ensuring translation to clinical application-and to those practicing disease prevention and wellness in myriad settings-is the important ROI metric for our precious research tax dollars.”


 NIH NCCAM announces 6 new members of its National Advisory Council  

Just prior to its regular February meeting, the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) announced 6 new members.  The council serves as the principal advisory body to NCCAM, the lead federal agency for research on complementary medicine, and a component of the National Institutes of Health. The members are:

  • Catherine Bushnell, PhD a pain expert and professor of anesthesia and professor in dentistry and neurology at McGill University whose research focuses on brain imaging techniques to study how pain is processed by the nervous system in humans.
  • Jane Guiltinan, ND is the dean of the school of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University, Seattle whose clinical practice is focused on women’s health, disease prevention, and wellness promotion.
  • Scott Haldeman, DC, MD, PhD, is adjunct professor in the department of Epidemiology at UCLA, clinical professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, Irvine and chairman of the research council of the World Federation of Chiropractic.
  • Frances C. Henderson, RN, EdD, is a clinical professor in the department of medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson with a focus on for her work in promoting health in adolescents, minority elderly, and rural individuals.
  • John Licciardone, DO, is associate dean for clinical research and executive director of the Osteopathic Research Center at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth who has served in various research and review capacities for NCCAM projects relative to osteopathy.
  • Lynda H. Powell, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and professor and chairman of the department of preventative medicine at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago who has focused on women’s psychosocial and cardiovascular health as well as lifestyle interventions aimed at reducing the risk for developing type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Comment: Interesting crop: two with health promotion expertise, two from the licensed complementary and alternative medicine disciplines NCCAM was originally charged to explore; one from a discipline (osteopathy) that NCCAM subsequently decided to add to the list; and a Canadian basic scientists. The mix reflects the 2011-2015 strategic plan’s new focus on health promotion.


 Institute for Integrative Health offers workshop on research methods, March 29-April 4, Baltimore, Maryland  

Brian Berman, MD, co-founder of The Institute for Integrative Health shares that the Institute is sponsoring a 5 day research training that includes the complementary and integrative medicine field coordinators for the Cochrane Collaboration, Eric Manheimer and Susan Wieland, on Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis. In a separate module, whole systems and real world research experts Claudia Witt and Klaus Linde will teach on study design and pragmatic trials. Participants can purchase individual components of the workshop.  Writes Berman:  “The course will provide participants with the skills necessary to both critically appraise clinical research, identify gaps, and to plan and perform their own study projects. Another important aim of the course is to foster international networking among participants.” For information click here.


Huge outpouring of proposals for the International Research Congress on Complementary and Integrative Medicine, May 15-18, 2012, Portland, Oregon 

The already robust international research gathering sponsored by the Consortium  of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine has witnessed a huge influx of interest from researchers. According to organizers, just one-in-three presentation proposals was accepted. The Congress, first held in Edmonton in 2006 as the National Research Conference in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NARCCIM), has continually grown with roughly 600 attendees at the first meeting, over 800 at the second, in Minneapolis in 2009. Organizers are targeting over 1000 attendees for the May 15-18, 2012.

Comment: For anyone with an interest in research in these fields, this Congress is an absolute smorgasbord of continuous abundance – in presentations, ideas and colleagues. If you have considered going, go.