Columbia University Medical Center

Columbia University Develops Center For Complementary And Alternative Medicine

National Institutes of Health Funds $7.2 Million to Further Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research in Aging and Women’s Health

New York, NY, Nov. 9, 1999 — The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has just awarded a $7.2 million research grant to Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons to develop a Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Research in Aging. This grant will extend the work of the NIH-funded Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research in Women’s Health to include a focus on aging.

The grant is one of five specialized center research grants awarded to further complementary and alternative medicine research. The award of approximately $7.2 million to be distributed over a five-year period will provide an opportunity for new as well as established investigators to receive training in complementary and alternative medicine related areas.

Columbia University provides an ideal environment for a Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research in Aging. This new center will be housed in the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine under the direction of Fredi Kronenberg, Ph.D. The Rosenthal Center, established in 1993 in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, has a focus on research, education, and professional training.

“As our nation’s population ages, our expectations about aging and about health and health care are changing. More and more Americans are interested in complementary and alternative therapies for disease prevention and health maintenance as well as for management and treatment of long-term disability and chronic disease,” said Dr. Kronenberg “The new center will address the issues of safety and efficacy of many alternative remedies, will develop research and professional training programs, and will enhance knowledge and information in this important emerging area of medicine.”

The initial research theme of the new center will address important questions regarding the modulation of hormonal function and its impact on the health of women as they age. Areas of interest include cardiovascular health, cancer, and osteoporosis, as well as the relief of symptoms associated with menopause. Other hormone-modulated conditions such as prostate disease in men are also areas of interest and may be investigated initially through such mechanisms such as pilot grant and research fellowship training opportunities.

The center will provide information about the short- and long-term benefits of complementary and alternative therapies, especially botanicals and dietary effects on health. Initial projects include: an examination of the effects of a phytoestrogen-rich macrobiotic diet on hormones and parameters of cardiovascular disease (Drs. Lawrence Kushi and Elsa Giardina); the effect of dietary phytoestrogens on bone metabolism (Drs. John Bilezikian and Shonni Silverberg); the effect of black cohosh on menopausal hot flashes (Drs. Fredi Kronenberg and Michelle Warren) ; and the effect of plant estrogens on breast cancer (Dr. Ruth Lupu, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory).

One of the unique aspects of the center’s program will be the development of a medical curriculum in complementary and alternative medicine and of fellowships for investigators who wish to pursue a career in CAM research (directed by Dr. Connie Park). This builds on and extends the educational program of the Rosenthal Center. This fellowship will include a summer research opportunity abroad, particularly for those interested in systems of medicine such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine. The goal of the program is to train medical leaders who will be comfortable and respected in the worlds of CAM and conventional medicine and who will advance a research agenda that maximizes the potential to improve human health and health care.

Dr. Kronenberg, a physiologist and director of the center, is an internationally recognized expert in the area of women’s health. Her research has focused on menopause, and her laboratory has long sought to understand the biological mechanisms of hot flashes. Dr. Kronenberg is a founder of the North American Menopause society, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary has become the preeminent professional menopause organization in the United States. Dr. Kronenberg’s more recent research examines the use of Western and Chinese botanical remedies for the treatment of hot flashes.

Dr. Lawrence Kushi, a nutritional epidemiologist, will co-direct the center with Dr. Kronenberg. Dr. Kushi, who recently joined Columbia’s faculty as the Ella McCollum Vahlteich Profesor of Human Nutrition at Teachers College, will also direct the center’s study of the effect of a phytoestrogen-rich diet on the health of menopausal women. Dr. Kushi has expertise in the area of macrobiotics and the effect of diet on cancer.

For more information concerning the center, please contact Catherine Holloway (center administrator) at (212) 543-9541 or fax (212) 543-2845.

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