In October 1998, Public Law 105-277, the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, elevated the status and expanded the mandate of the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine by authorizing the establishment of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). In December 2014, Public Law 113-235, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, included a provision to change NCCAM’s name to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
NCCIH Organizational Structure
NCCIH is one of 27 Institutes and Centers of NIH, the Nation’s premier biomedical research agency. NIH is the steward of medical and behavioral research for the Nation. The agency is responsible to Congress and the U.S. taxpayers for carrying out its mission to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability, in a manner that not only facilitates research but does so cost effectively and in compliance with applicable rules and regulations.
The NCCIH organizational structure includes an Office of the Director (OD), which provides overall leadership for and administration of the Center’s components, including the Division of Extramural Research (DER), the Division of Intramural Research (DIR), and the Division of Extramural Activities (DEA).
The NCCIH OD is responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating the programs and activities of NCCIH, including research, training, education, and information dissemination efforts, and providing guidance and policy direction to the offices and divisions of the Center regarding management, program planning, program coordination, and program evaluation. The OD includes the Office of Administrative Management; the Office of Communications and Public Liaison; the Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation; and the Office of Clinical and Regulatory Affairs.
The NCCIH DER oversees the planning, development, and implementation of scientific programs or areas of science that fulfill NCCIH’s mission. DER devises scientific policies, research and training, and career development nationally through grants and contracts to research organizations. The NCCIH DER is organized into two branches based on the type of research being supported. Both the Clinical Research Branch and the Basic and Mechanistic Research Branch oversee studies of complementary health approaches, including natural products, pre-/probiotics, manual therapies, meditation, and meditative movement interventions.
The NCCIH DIR, located on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, conducts basic, clinical, and translational research focusing on the role of the brain in perceiving, modifying, and managing pain. Research projects include investigating the role of the brain in pain processing and control, and how factors such as emotion, attention, environment, and genetics affect pain perception. The program includes research that explores how chronic pain produces changes in the brain that can modify how the brain reacts to pain medications like opioids.
The NCCIH DEA develops, implements, and coordinates extramural programs and policies within NCCIH and the extramural community. The division, through its Office of Scientific Review, coordinates the receipt, referral, and scientific review of grants, cooperative agreements, and research contracts. The division, through its Office of Grants Management, oversees the processing of grants, cooperative agreements and contracts. The division also coordinates meetings of the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health and manages the Center’s committee management activities.
Description of the Strategic Planning Process
From April 2020 through July 2020, stakeholders were offered several ways to contribute their thoughts and feedback. This included responding to a request for information (RFI) (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-AT-20-013.html) using a web form or by email. The Center broadly disseminated information throughout the process to its many stakeholder groups and individuals. In May 2020, the Center hosted the webinar and town hall Whole Person Health: Mapping a Strategic Vision for NCCIH in conjunction with the International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health. In July 2020, NCCIH hosted a Town Hall and Public Comment Session at which the Center invited comments from stakeholders, experts, communities, and members of the public, including but not limited to researchers and trainees across academia, industry, and government; health care providers and health advocacy organizations; nongovernmental, scientific, and professional organizations; and Federal agencies. Both NCCIH and NIH staff also provided input to the development of the strategic plan throughout the process.
The draft strategic plan was posted to the NCCIH website in February 2021, and an RFI (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-AT-21-005.html) was issued for public comment on the draft.
The National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health provided valuable input and received updates during their public meeting sessions in September 2019; February, June, and September 2020; and January 2021.