Five research centers will focus on the safety of natural products, on how they work within the body, and on 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 1 in 5 U.S. adults use botanical supplements and other non-vitamin, non-mineral dietary supplements, such as fish oil/omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics, according to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey.
“Our Botanical Research Centers Program has been a unique driver of research on natural products for 16 years,” said Paul M. Coates, Ph.D., 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."
The three Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Centers will receive competitive awards of approximately $2 million per year for five 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 five years, pending available funds. These centers are expected to develop new research approaches and technologies that will have significant impact on the chemical and biological 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.
“Natural products have a long and impressive history as sources of medicine and as important biological research tools,” said Josephine Briggs, M.D., NCCIH director. “These centers will seek not only to understand potential mechanisms by which natural products may affect health, but also to address persistent technological challenges for this field by taking full advantage of innovative advances in biological and chemical methodology.”