The National Institutes of Health (NIH), through the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), has awarded $3,092,898 to the Helfgott Research Institute at the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM), Portland, Oregon, for two 5-year complementary integrative health (CIH) research grants.
The new grants will provide funding for studies involving mindfulness-based stress reduction for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and clinical research training for naturopathic doctors and Chinese medicine practitioners. Training in naturopathic and Chinese medicine modalities for conventional medicine researchers will also be funded.
The K23 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Multiple Sclerosis (Feasibility, Durability and Clinical Outcomes) program is underway with Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). The Building Research across Inter-Disciplinary Gaps (BRIDG)/ T90/R90 Clinical Research Training program in Complementary and Integrative Health is underway in collaboration with the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. The two NCNM research programs have been awarded a total of $672,550 and $2,420,348 respectively. NCNM and its Helfgott Research Institute have received 8 NIH awards totaling $6,046,183 since 2002.
K23 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Multiple Sclerosis Program
MS is the most common neurological condition affecting young adults in the United States. MS symptoms are diverse and unpredictable and include diminished mobility, chronic pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment. Studies have shown that psychological stress can exacerbate MS symptoms and trigger relapses.
While mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) clinical trials have demonstrated improved health conditions for many patient populations, few trials have been applied to people with neurological impairments. A recent study found that participation in a stress-reduction trial reduced the frequency of new lesion development in MS, suggesting that stress-management might not only improve symptoms but may modify the disease progression.
The 3-fold aim of this program is to conduct research that will evaluate the feasibility of MBSR for people with MS; assess the durability of outcomes over a 12-month period; and discover which postintervention activities and behaviors might support or inhibit sustainability.
NCNM researchers will introduce MBSR to study participants as an 8-week program consisting of weekly 2-hour classes of meditation, breath work, yoga, self-reflection, and awareness.
T90/R90 BRIDG Clinical Research Training Program
The primary goal of the BRIDG program is crosstraining promising investigators to translate CIH concepts into testable, multidisciplinary research hypotheses and to apply translational research methods to CIH-oriented research. Recognizing that research in CIH requires a multidisciplinary approach, NCNM and UW have combined their expertise in research, clinical care, and CIH to create an immersive clinical research training program that will foster collaboration and respect among a variety of medical and research disciplines.
The program integrates doctoral-level CIH healthcare providers (eg, doctors of naturopathic medicine, chiropractic, and acupuncture and Oriental medicine) and conventionally trained researchers from biomedical and public health disciplines (eg, medical doctors, doctors of public health, researchers). The R90/NCNM component of the BRIDG program will train postdoctoral researchers who want to learn clinical research in a variety of CIH practices, including naturopathy, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, nutrition, and mind-body therapies. The T90/UW program component will train postdoctoral CIH clinicians in a variety of clinical research methods.
NCNM President David J. Schleich noted about the new funding,
The School of Research & Graduate Studies at NCNM and our Helfgott Research Institute are growing at an unprecedented pace—because there is a need. With the increasing use of complementary and alternative medicine, high-quality rigorous research is essential so that CIH therapies can be accurately evaluated to help keep the public informed. We are honored to be able to partner with our esteemed colleagues at OHSU and the UW on these important projects to grow this critical field of research.
NCNM thanks the NCCIH for generously supporting these 2 research training programs. To learn more about the NCCIH training and development grants, visit https://nccih.nih.gov/training/about.