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Research Funding Priorities

Note: Research funding priorities are subject to change in response to new scientific opportunities or public health needs.

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The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) regularly examines and redefines its research priorities. Priorities are set to fill gaps in the research portfolio, capitalize on emerging opportunities, and leverage resources. Using a formal semi-annual planning process, NCCAM considers the existing research portfolio, NCCAM's 5-year strategic plan, plans of other NIH institutes and centers, recommendations of the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, as well as input from expert panels and other stakeholders to set its research priorities.

Mechanisms of Action

The research portfolio will have an increased emphasis on studies of the mechanisms underlying complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches. The reasons for this emphasis are:

Exploratory Clinical Studies and Phase I and II Clinical Trials

The research portfolio will have an increased emphasis on exploratory, Phase I and Phase II studies of CAM. The objectives of this focus are to:

The outcomes of these studies will form the basis for designing larger trials with an enhanced ability to detect a meaningful positive effect, if any, of the CAM modality under study.


Areas of Special Interest

Research areas currently of special interest are listed below. NCCAM continues to accept applications in areas not listed. All investigators are urged to discuss potential applications with the relevant NCCAM Program Officer.

NCCAM continues to be highly interested in research on minority and gender health and on health disparities.


Areas Subject to a Short "Pause" in New Funding

NCCAM is already investing substantial resources in the following areas of research. We will continue to fund novel and significant research on these topics. However, until results of the currently funded studies are available, many applications in these areas are likely to be considered of relatively lower program priority. Investigators are strongly urged to contact the relevant NCCAM Program Officer before submitting an application in any of the following areas:


Early Stage and New Investigators

NCCAM is strongly committed to assisting new and early stage investigators in establishing a research career. Early stage investigators are those within 10 years of completing their terminal research degree, or their medical residency, or its equivalent. New investigators are those who have yet to compete successfully for a substantial (e.g., R01) NIH research grant. Each Advisory Council round, based on available funds, NCCAM: 1) will consider early stage or new investigator status as one of the criteria for designating grant applications as being of high program priority and 2) may make additional R01 grant awards to new and early stage investigators with percentiles or scores beyond the formal payline.