National College of Natural Medicine Receives $3,092,898 for NIH Research Grants

Helfgott Research Institute Begins Multiple Sclerosis & Inter-Disciplinary Research Studies

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 10, 2015)—The National Institutes of Health, through the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), has awarded $3,092,898 to the Helfgott Research Institute at National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) for two five-year complementary integrative health (CIH) research grants.

The new grants will provide funding for studies involving mindfulness-based stress reduction for people with multiple sclerosis; and clinical research training for naturopathic doctors, Chinese medicine practitioners, as well as training in naturopathic and Chinese medicine modalities for conventional medicine researchers.

Said NCNM President David J. Schleich about the new funding: “The School of Research & Graduate Studies at NCNM and our Helfgott Research Institute are growing at an unprecedented pace—because there is a need. With the increasing use of complementary and alternative medicine, high-quality rigorous research is essential so that CIH therapies can be accurately evaluated to help keep the public informed. We are honored to be able to partner with our esteemed colleagues at OHSU and UW on these important projects to grow this critical field of research.”

The K23 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Multiple Sclerosis (Feasibility, Durability and Clinical Outcomes) program is being undertaken with Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). The Building Research across Inter-Disciplinary Gaps (BRIDG)/ T90/R90 Clinical Research Training program in Complementary and Integrative Health is underway in collaboration with the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. The two NCNM research programs have been awarded a total of $672,550 and $2,420,348 respectively.

“The NCCIH awards are gratifying—not only because of the recognition from our federal government for the value of our research, but also for furthering our ability to help NCNM students develop the skills they need to contribute to the evidence-base of natural medicine,” Schleich said.

K23 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Multiple Sclerosis Program

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common neurological condition affecting young adults in the United States. MS symptoms are diverse and unpredictable, and include diminished mobility, chronic pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment. Studies have shown that psychological stress can exacerbate MS symptoms and trigger relapses.

While Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) clinical trials have demonstrated improved health conditions for many patient populations, few trials have been applied to people with neurological impairments. A recent study found that participation in a stress-reduction trial reduced the frequency of new lesion development in MS, suggesting that stress-management might not only improve symptoms, but may modify the disease progression.

The threefold aim of this program is to conduct research that will evaluate the feasibility of mindfulness-based stress reduction for people with multiple sclerosis; assess the durability of outcomes over a 12-month period; and understand which post-intervention activities and behaviors might support or inhibit sustainability.

NCNM researchers will introduce MBSR to study participants as an eight-week program consisting of weekly two-hour classes of meditation, breath work, yoga, self-reflection and awareness.

T90/R90 BRIDG Clinical Research Training Program

The primary goal of the BRIDG program is cross-training promising investigators to translate CIH (formerly known as complementary and alternative medicine) concepts into testable, multi-disciplinary research hypotheses; and to apply translational research methods to CIH-oriented research. Recognizing that research in CIH requires a multi-disciplinary approach, NCNM and UW have combined their expertise in research, clinical care and CIH to create an immersive clinical research training program that will foster collaboration and respect among a variety of medical and research disciplines.

The program integrates doctoral-level CIH healthcare providers (e.g., doctors of naturopathic, chiropractic, and acupuncture and Oriental medicine) and conventionally trained researchers from biomedical and public health disciplines (e.g., medical doctors, doctors of public health, PhDs, etc.).

The R90/NCNM component of the BRIDG program will train post-doctoral researchers who want to learn clinical research in a variety of CIH practices, including naturopathy, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, nutrition, and mind-body therapies. The T90/UW program component will train post-doctoral CIH clinicians in a variety of clinical research methods.

The T90/R90 BRIDG program directors are Heather Zwickey, PhD, dean of the School of Research & Graduate Studies at NCNM, director of its Helfgott Research Institute, and professor of immunology; and Cathryn Booth-LaForce, PhD, the Charles and Gerda Spence Endowed Professor in Nursing at UW, and a professor and research affiliate at its Center on Human Development and Disability. Ryan Bradley, ND, MPH, the assistant director of the Helfgott Research Institute and associate professor in the School of Research & Graduate Studies at NCNM serves as the assistant BRIDG program director. Bradley is also an affiliate associate professor in the School of Pharmacy at UW.

NCNM thanks the NCCIH for generously supporting these two research training programs (Senders K23—1K23AT008211 and Zwickey R90—1R90AT008924). To learn more about the NCCIH training and development grants, visit

Visit to learn more about NCNM’s School of Research & Graduate Studies and its postgraduate degrees.


Founded in Portland, Oregon, in 1956, NCNM is the oldest accredited naturopathic medical school in North America and an educational leader in classical Chinese medicine and CAM research. NCNM offers both postgraduate and undergraduate degree programs: these include four-year graduate medical degrees in naturopathic and classical Chinese medicine; four Master of Science degrees in Integrative Medicine Research, Nutrition, Global Health, and Integrative Mental Health; and two Bachelor of Science degrees in Nutrition and Integrative Health Sciences. NCNM also provides community education through the NCNM Institutes: Women in Balance, Traditional Roots and Food as Medicine. NCNM’s teaching clinics, including NCNM Clinic, the Beaverton Clinic, and the college’s many community clinics, provide low-cost medical care throughout the Portland metropolitan area. NCNM practitioners, residents and student interns treat approximately 40,000 patient visits per year.