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N C C A M Research Blog

Celebrating the 10-Year Anniversary of the Common Fund

July 21, 2014
Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.
Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.

Director
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

View Dr. Briggs' biographical sketch

On June 19, NIH celebrated the NIH Common Fund’s first 10 years of achievement by hosting the symposium “A Decade of Discovery.”

Speakers included NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, former NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, and principal investigators from a number of Common Fund projects. On the event Web site, you can check out the program, listen to archived talks, and view grantees’ creative submissions to the anniversary song and video contests.

Dr. Collins provides an interesting inside perspective on the history of the Common Fund in his blog and in a paper in Science co-authored with Dr. Zerhouni and Dr. Elizabeth Wilder, Director of the NIH Office of Strategic Coordination.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2004, NIH launched the “NIH Roadmap” which identified major cross-cutting opportunities and challenges that NIH as a whole should address. The “NIH Roadmap” became known as the Common Fund in 2006. Today, the Common Fund supports projects that are

  • Novel
  • Transformative to science
  • Catalytic, short term, and goal driven
  • Synergistic
  • Strategically coordinated across NIH, as well as uniquely suited to it.

These projects range from basic science to clinical work, and they often produce new tools, technologies, approaches, and data sets for use by the broader research community. The Human Microbiome Project and the Epigenomics Program are two examples.

We at NCCAM take special pride in two NIH Common Fund initiatives where we have played a leadership role, the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) and the NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory.

  • PROMIS is a transformative approach to measuring patient well-being. The PROMIS investigators have developed and validated sets of questions to measure patient-reported health status, including physical, mental, and social aspects. These tools, which are largely in the public domain, measure what patients can do and how they feel. They provide valuable measures for clinical studies and are also being tested by health systems to improve care of patients. Laura Lee Johnson has blogged about NCCAM’s work on PROMIS.
  • The Collaboratory is developing innovative methods for conducting large-scale, cost-effective clinical trials. The work is being done in partnership with large health care organizations including networks of hospitals, dialysis providers, and a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers. One of the greatest methodological challenges in clinical research is moving that research into more broad-based, real-world settings. You can read my post about NCCAM’s interest in and work on pragmatic trials here.

The Common Fund, the Roadmap, and their programs have changed the face of science, and we at NCCAM are proud to have been part of 10 years of extraordinary achievements.