NIH Awards Nearly $35 Million to Research Natural Products


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Paul M. Coates, PhD

Josephine Briggs, MD

Five research centers will focus on the safety of natural products, how they work within the body, and the development of cutting-edge research technologies. The centers, jointly funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health ­(NCCIH), include three Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Centers and two Centers for Advancing Natural Products Innovation and Technology.

Natural products include a wide variety of substances produced by plants, bacteria, fungi, and animals that have historically been used in traditional medicine and other complementary and integrative health practices.

Many of the botanical supplements proposed for study by these centers—such as black cohosh, bitter melon, chasteberry, fenugreek, grape seed extract, hops, maca, milk thistle, resveratrol, licorice, and valerian—are among the top 100 supplements consumed in the United States based on sales data. Nearly one in five American adults use botanical supplements and other nonvitamin, nonmineral dietary supplements, such as fish oil/omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics, according to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey.

Competitive Awards

The three Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Centers will receive competitive awards of approximately $2 million per year for 5 years, pending available funds. These three interdisciplinary and collaborative centers will advance understanding of the mechanisms through which complex botanical dietary supplements may affect human health and resilience.

The two Centers for Advancing Natural Products Innovation and Technology have a combined budget of approximately $1.25 million per year for 5 years, pending available funds. These centers are expected to develop new research approaches and technologies that will have significant impact on the chemical and biologic investigation of natural products. They will also provide leadership in coordinating scientific discourse and disseminating innovative methodology and good research practices to the research community on natural products.

“Our Botanical Research Centers Program has been a unique driver of research on natural products for 16 years,” said Paul M. Coates, PhD, ODS Director. “The two new Centers for Advancing Natural Products Innovation and Technology will develop pioneering methods and techniques to catalyze research on these ­products.”

“Natural products have a long and impressive history as sources of medicine and as important biologic research tools,” said Josephine Briggs, MD, NCCIH Director. “These centers will seek not only to understand potential mechanisms by which natural products may affect health, but also to address persistent technologic challenges for this field by taking full advantage of innovative advances in biologic and chemical methodology.”

Dietary Botanicals in the Preservation of Cognitive and Psychological Resilience

  • Principal Investigators: Giulio Pasinetti, MD, PhD, and Richard Dixon, PhD
  • Institution: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Partner Institutions: Purdue University; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; University of North Texas

Botanicals and Metabolic Resiliency

  • Principal Investigator: William Cefalu, MD
  • Institution: Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University
  • Partner Institutions: North Carolina State University, Kannapolis; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; University of Illinois at Chicago

Botanical Dietary Supplements for Women’s Health

  • Principal Investigator: Richard van Breemen, PhD
  • Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago

The Center for High-Throughput Functional Annotation of Natural Products

  • Principal Investigators: John MacMillan, PhD,
    Roger Linington, PhD, and Michael White, PhD
  • Institutions: The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Simon Fraser University; University of California, Santa Cruz

The UIC Natural Products Technology Center

  • Principal Investigator: Guido Pauli, PhD
  • Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago

The Office of Dietary Supplements initiated the Botanical Research Centers Program in partnership with the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health in 1999, in response to a Congressional mandate.

To learn more about the Botanical Research Centers Program, visit http://ods.od.nih.gov/Research/
Dietary_Supplement_Research_Centers.aspx. ■

 



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