NCCAM’s 10th Anniversary Event Goes Deep into Human Biology
NCCAM’s symposium on Dec. 10 at NIH will include discussions of its early research projects starting to focus on the the processes of disease and illness at the microbiological level and on the neurological factors related to integrative approaches like meditation.

NCCAM Director Josephine P. Briggs, M.D. will host the day-long event that includes these topics:

Natural Products, moderated by Robert Nussenblatt, M.D., Acting Scientific and Clinical Director, Division of Intramural Research, NCCAM

The Human Gut Microbiome: Dining in with a Few Trillion Fascinating Friends, Jeffrey I. Gordon, M.D., Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, member of IOM

The Role of the Human Microbiota in Health and Disease, Claire M. Fraser-Liggett, Ph.D., University of Maryland School of Medicine

500 Million Years of Mother Nature’s Evolving Chemical Repertoire, or Why We Owe it All to Sunscreens!, Joseph P. Noel, Ph.D., The Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Mind-Body Medicine, Moderated by Jack Killen, M.D., Deputy Director, NCCAM

Acupuncture, Pain, and Placebo,  Bruce R. Rosen, M.D., Ph.D. Harvard Medical School

Meditation: A Neuroscience ApproachRichard J. Davidson, Ph.D., U. of Wisconsin-Madison

Stress, Coping, and Well-Being: Behavioral Science Meets Integrative MedicineSusan Folkman, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco


  • Agenda, videocast: speaker information and details.
  • Event hashtag on Twitter:  #nccamten

NCCAM Context: “Gut-Level” Research

The presentations on microbiota  and gut microbiome are based on the Human Microbiome Project that NIH launched in 2007 to study the nature of microbial communities like bacteria, fungi and archaea whose role in health and disease is not well understood.

Presenters Fraser-Liggett and Gordon were co-authors of an Oct. 2007 article in the journal Nature that described the HMP as:

“A strategy to understand the microbial components of the human genetic and metabolic landscape and how they contribute to normal physiology and predisposition to disease.”

“Importantly, it also has the potential to break down the artificial barriers between medical microbiology and environmental microbiology.”

The HMP was referred to in the article as, “a logical conceptual and experimental extension of the Human Genome Project.”  According to the NIH, the HMP would leverage “both the metagenomic and traditional approach to genomic DNA sequencing.”

The project emphasizes the microbiology of five body sites : oral, skin, vaginal, gut, and nasal/lung.

The five-year $115 million project is one of the New Pathways to Discovery that NIH created in 2004 in its Roadmap for Medical Research program, designed to “address roadblocks to research an to transform the way biomedical research is conducted.”

Placement of the microbiome-focused presentations in the “Natural Products” portion of the event falls in line with NCCAM’s historic funding over the years of research focused on supplements and herbs such as fish oil (omega 3), glucosamine, chondrointin, echinasea, flaxseed oil, ginseng, ginko biloba, garlic, co-enzyme Q-10 (the most widely used such substances according to a 2007 NCCAM survey).

The “natural products” category has received the majority of NCCAM funding in recent years.

NIH Roadmap site description of the project.

A wikipedia entry on the program, with links to articles.