Updated Guidance on NCCAM Interests for RFA AT-11-001

Notice Number: NOT-AT-12-002

Key Dates

Release Date:  December 20, 2011

Related Notices


Issued by

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH formerly NCCAM)


The purpose of this Notice is to provide guidance and clarification regarding NCCAM’s interests for the remaining two receipt dates of RFA-AT-11-001 on March 1, 2012 and November 1, 2012. These reflect changes in programmatic need based on grant awards made to date.

The majority of applications received have been focused on potential treatments for specific chronic diseases.  NCCAM would like to encourage applicants to explore mechanisms with broader applicability.  Research into interactions between natural products and pathways which may influence central cellular processes are considered a high priority for NCCAM.  Two examples are inflammation and gene expression.  These mechanisms may have an impact on multiple disease endpoints.

NCCAM is interested in CAM natural product approaches which address symptom management, or improve treatment adherence to conventional therapy for chronic illness.  Projects studying the cancer chemopreventive or chemotherapeutic activity of natural products more closely match the interests of NCI and are a low priority for NCCAM.

In addition, there have been relatively few applications exploring natural products characterization.  This includes research to elucidate the bioactive components of previously unstudied or understudied plants and research into novel technology to improve the biological and chemical characterization of natural products.  NCCAM considers this to be a high priority for the remaining receipt dates.  Additionally, NCCAM is interested in applications exploring potentially bioactive metabolites of CAM natural products.  This includes interactions between natural products and the microbiome.

Applications involving clinical trials with various CAM natural products are strongly discouraged. This includes studies on the efficacy of specific natural products in a human population or other research involving administration of natural products to human subjects.  Furthermore, applications on potential treatments for specific diseases will be considered a low priority for NCCAM.

The following five objectives from the original list of eight remain areas of high priority for NCCAM:

  • Developing methods to improve purification and characterization of complex products.
  • Determining active components of natural products.
  • Investigating production of active botanical metabolites by human gut microbes.
  • Elucidating interactions among components within a single botanical product, between components of mixtures, as well as between natural products and pharmaceuticals.
  • Examining natural product-induced gene regulation and/or expression that may identify mechanistic pathways.

Please direct all inquiries to:

D. Craig Hopp, Ph.D.
Program Director
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Ph: 301-496-5825

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