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Alternative medicine funded

More than 80 million Americans use alternative therapies such as acupuncture and herbal remedies, according to the National Institutes of Health. Yet the safety and effectiveness of many such therapies remain insufficiently tested in large clinical trials that use strict federal safety rules and human subjects.

NIH recently awarded two grants totaling $4,185,420 to the School of Nursing's Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies. The grants are for five years each and will support training for pre- and post-doctoral degree researchers in the field of complementary and alternative medicine. (CAM)

"People who suffer from pain and chronic diseases could benefit greatly by adding complementary and alternative practices that are safe and effective to their current treatments. These awards will help speed identification and evaluation of promising new CAM therapies," said center director Ann Gill Taylor, professor of nursing and principal investigator for both grants. "My vision is for U.Va. to become a flagship school for CAM training."

One grant for almost $2.7 million will support a two-year Training Program in Complementary and Alternative Medicine for pre- and post-doctoral students in complementary therapies research. The program is a joint effort of the center and the schools of Nursing, Medicine and the Engineering School's Department of Biomedical Engineering. Postdoctoral trainees will conduct research under the guidance of senior researchers from the collaborating schools.

The other award of approximately $1.5 million is for a Clinical Research Curriculum Program in Complementary and Alternative Therapies and will expand the existing training program. It will include a new two-year track that prepares doctoral-level nurses, physicians and other health-care providers to conduct clinical research to study the effectiveness of new CAM-related technologies, mechanisms of disease and CAM therapies. The program will use resources of the U.Va. schools of Nursing and Medicine and the center to teach participants the design of clinical research projects, hypothesis development, biostatistics, epidemiology, clinical trial design and legal, cultural, ethical and regulatory issues related to clinical research.

The program also will offer a course on therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic, therapeutic touch and other treatments that have shown evidence of effectiveness in previous research studies.


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