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NCCIH Research Blog

NCCIH Support of Natural Products Research Continues: NIH Awards Nearly $27 Million for Natural Product Centers

June 24, 2020

D. Craig Hopp, Ph.D.

D. Craig Hopp, Ph.D.

Deputy Director

Division of Extramural Research

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

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Exploring basic biological mechanisms of natural products continues to be a strategic priority for the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). I’m pleased to share news that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), NCCIH, and National Institute on Aging (NIA) are jointly funding five research centers that will generate the data needed to support clinical trials of complex natural products, advance cutting-edge research approaches to these products, and develop the guidance and infrastructure needed to collect and share rigorous and FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and reproducible) natural product data. 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.

Three Botanical Dietary Supplements Research Centers will advance understanding of the metabolism and optimal use of botanical dietary supplements as well as the cellular mechanisms through which the products studied may affect human health and resilience. This research will set the stage for well-designed clinical trials of the most promising products.

The Center for Natural Product Technology, Methodology, and Productivity Optimization (NP-TEMPO) will collaborate with other research groups to develop powerful and innovative methods to determine the chemical composition of complex natural products and the contributions of their chemical constituents, in various combinations, to potential biological activities.

The Natural Products Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Open Data Exchange (NP-NODE) will coordinate the development of standards and develop the infrastructure to facilitate transfer, storage, search, and analysis of natural products structural data, specifically raw NMR data, in a resource compliant with the principle that scientific data should be FAIR. This resource will enable natural products researchers to mine NMR data in exciting new ways.

Funding of these research centers demonstrates our Center’s and NIH’s firm commitment to rigorous investigation of natural products as they pertain to complementary and integrative health approaches. The current NCCIH Strategic Plan outlines our interest in advancing fundamental science and method development, and the Center has published many targeted funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for natural products research, including initiatives that indicate our interest in diet–microbiome interactions, minor cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis to address pain, natural product–drug interactions, and botanical research centers such as the ones mentioned in this blog post.

We welcome potential research applicants to visit the NCCIH website to learn more about our research priorities for natural products. In addition, we encourage natural products researchers to provide input on NCCIH’s next 5-year strategic plan at a July 1 virtual town hall or online by July 13, 2020.

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