January 31, 2000
Abstracted from a special report
by Sheryl Gay Stolberg in the New York Times
New York Times Spotlights Traditional Scientists
BALTIMORE -- Federally-funded studies are now being conducted to test unconventional or alternative therapies. According to the New York Times, as recently as five years ago, most academics would not have gone near such studies, for fear of ridicule. However, now 'gold-standard' clinical trials---ie, double-blinded studies which feature a placebo-control group---are being increasingly conducted by professors at the most prestigious university centers in the U.S.
While alternative therapies remain controversial and mostly unproven, multimillion dollar clinical trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health are now being undertaken to scientifically test some of them. The driving force apppears to be a Congressional mandate to increase funding for the relatively new Office of Alternative Medicine. The OAM, which was established in 1993, had an initial annual budget of just $2 million. The 2000 annual budget for the OAM is $68 million. Dr. Stephen E. Strauss, a virologist and "longtime NIH insider and a really distinguished scientist," is the new director.
According to Dr. Harold Varmus, NIH Director, alternative medicine represented a real public health concern the NIH had a responsibility to address." Among the institutions undertaking the studies are Duke University, looking at the role of St. John's Wort for depression; the University of Michigan, studying the Chinese art of qi gong to help speed the recovery of heart surgery patients; M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, testing shark cartilage as a treatment for lung cancer; and the University of Maryland, examining the effect of acupuncture in patients with arthritis.
USRF has completed a rigidly scientific test of Saw
Nutrition Business Journal has released results of a study showing
American Urological Association has just this year established