Fast-Forwarding Natural Products Research
I have an exciting new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to tell you about: the “Center for Advancing Natural Products Innovation and Technology (U41),” or RFA-AT-14-006. This grant is part of a diverse portfolio of projects on natural products research cosponsored by NCCAM and the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). The goal of this FOA is to improve upon and strengthen the technologies and methods used in natural-products research—leading to better understanding of the biology and chemistry of natural products and how they impact health and wellness.
The centerpiece will be a new national Center for Advancing Natural Product Innovation and Technology (CANPIT). It is being funded under the U41 grant mechanism, a cooperative agreement, which means its activities will be done in partnership between the awardee(s) and the sponsoring agencies.
Advancing research on natural products is a primary objective in NCCAM’s Strategic Plan. As part of these efforts, NCCAM and ODS assembled the NIH Botanical Research Expert Panel, made up of members from outside NIH, which met in April 2013 (view summary here). This new RFA comes directly from the panel's work, as does a second NCCAM-ODS opportunity, "Botanical Dietary Supplement Research Centers" (RFA-OD-14-001).
Natural products are widely marketed and used in the United States, and are represented in healing systems and pharmacopoeias throughout the world. However, rigorous scientific evidence on the efficacy and safety of natural products has mostly been lacking. A related problem is that, over the past two decades, investment in natural-products research by pharmaceutical companies, government, and academic institutions has fallen. This decline is often attributed to longtime challenges and obstacles with research methodologies, technologies, and approaches. The new CANPIT center will take on these hurdles, playing a unique and innovative role as a leader, collaborator, and coordinator among experts and expertise in the field.
If you are a researcher interested in studying natural products, I encourage you to:
- Review RFA-AT-14-006 and related announcement RFA-OD-14-001 in the NIH Guide
- Take advantage of the resources NCCAM and NIH have for applicants—including a teleconference on January 27, 2014, and a webinar in March 2014 (details TBA), both hosted by NCCAM
- Start early; it is possible to produce an application quickly, but to produce one that is competitive takes much more time. The deadline for RFA-AT-14-006 is June 27, 2014.
We look forward to receiving many innovative proposals.