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NCCIH Research Blog

Looking Back, Looking Forward: NCCIH at 20

April 25, 2018

Anita McRae-Williams, M.A.

Anita McRae-Williams, M.A.

Outreach Communications Program Manager

Division of Extramural Research

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View biographical sketch

What’s in a name? A quick look at a few milestones in the history of NCCIH may give you an idea, with more to come in a symposium at the International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health (ICIMH) that will offer a retrospective of the Center’s 20 years since its establishment by Congress.

By way of background, in 1991, Congress passed legislation (P.L. 102-170) providing funding to establish the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the world’s foremost biomedical research institutions and the Federal focal point for health research in the United States. The Office was charged with investigating and evaluating promising unconventional medical approaches. OAM was formally established in 1993, and in 1998, Congress elevated its status, mandate, and authority (P.L. 105-277) by establishing the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The Center’s general purposes were stated in the founding legislation, Public Law 105-277: “the conduct and support of basic and applied research (including both intramural and extramural research), research training, the dissemination of health information, and other programs with respect to identifying, investigating, and validating complementary and alternative treatment, diagnostic, and prevention modalities, disciplines, and systems.”

In 2014, Congress changed the Center’s name to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) in an omnibus budget measure signed by President Obama. This change was made to more accurately reflect the Center’s research commitment to studying promising health approaches already in use by the American public.

On Wednesday, May 9, from 10:45 a.m. to noon, NCCIH will sponsor “Looking Back, Looking Forward: NCCIH at 20,” a symposium at the ICIMH on the Center’s history, philosophy, current directions, and research portfolio. Our speakers and their topics are as follows:

  • Dr. Christine Goertz, Vice Chancellor for Research and Health Policy at the Palmer College of Chiropractic, member of the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Integrative Health, and former NCCIH program officer, will offer her perspective on NCCIH scientific program developments in the early years.
  • Dr. Margaret Chesney, Professor of Medicine, Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and former Deputy Director of NCCIH, will comment on the Center’s middle years and the integration of its programs with the NIH biomedical research enterprise.
  • Dr. Emmeline Edwards, Director of the NCCIH Division of Extramural Research, will discuss NCCIH’s current vision and update the ICIMH community on milestones achieved in recent years.
  • Dr. David Shurtleff, Acting Director of NCCIH, will close by discussing the Center’s vision, current strategic plan, and high-priority research topics.

I will have the pleasure of serving as moderator for this distinguished panel. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentations. If you would like to submit a question in advance for consideration, please email it to Questions must be received by Friday, May 4, 2018. If you will be attending ICIMH, we hope to see you at this symposium!

*Anita McRae-Williams directs outreach programs in the Division of Extramural Research (DER) at NCCIH. The Division of Extramural Research develops and oversees NCCIH-funded research and research training programs. Mrs. McRae-Williams develops and executes comprehensive outreach strategies to attract diverse research stakeholders to new NCCIH funding opportunities and establish or strengthen ties with the research community.


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