HHS News
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, Oct. 5, 1999
Press Contact: NIH Press Office
(301) 496-5787

STEPHEN E. STRAUS, MD, APPOINTED DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CENTER FOR COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE AT NIH


HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today announced the appointment of Stephen E. Straus, M.D., as the director for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

A nationally and internationally recognized expert in clinical research and clinical trials, Dr. Straus has served since 1991 as the Chief for the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

"Dr. Straus brings exceptional expertise and leadership to this position and will continue to ensure high-quality complementary and alternative medicine treatments and modalities," Secretary Shalala said. "I look forward to the light he and his colleagues will shed on various alternative approaches to maintaining good health and treating disease."

Dr. Straus has broad basic and clinical research experience related to many diseases for which there are alternative remedies, including chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Lyme disease, AIDS/HIV, chronic hepatitis B virus and genital herpes infections and chronic post-herpetic pain. Dr. Straus is widely regarded for his wide-ranging studies involving patients with CFS, which began in 1979, even before the syndrome was named. These studies have extended from efforts to identify viral etiologies in the syndrome to his more recent immunologic, neuroendocrine and neuropsychologic studies of the disorder. He also has a strong background in investigations of the molecular biology, pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of human viral infections.

"The American public is increasingly interested in complementary and alternative therapies, and it is critical that NIH put its scientific expertise to work to help determine which therapies are safe and effective," said Harold Varmus, M.D., director of NIH. "The appointment of Dr. Straus, with his experience in alternative therapies and his expertise in clinical evidence, will result in significant expansion of clinical research in this field. He brings to this position a clear sense of leadership, strong management and organizational expertise, and superb communications skills."

Dr. Straus' scientific training began at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where in 1968 he obtained his bachelor of science degree in life sciences. In 1972, he received his medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. After his internship at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Mo., Straus' first NIH experience began in 1973, when he accepted a research associate position in NIAID's Laboratory of the Biology of Viruses. Returning to Barnes for his residency, he earned a fellowship in infectious diseases at St. Louis Washington University, which he completed before he returned to NIAID as a senior investigator.

Throughout his career, Dr. Straus has received many honors and much recognition for his research contributions. The recipient of the 1999 Dutch National ME Fund Award for his CFS research, Dr. Straus' professional achievements have been recognized by election to major professional societies including the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation, by appointment to the editorial boards of several scholarly journals, and by five medals and other commendations from the U.S. Public Health Service, including the Distinguished Service Medal for innovative clinical research and the HHS Secretary's Distinguished Service Award for drafting the blueprint to reinvigorate clinical research at NIH. Additionally, he has published more than 300 scientific papers and edited several books.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)--formerly called the Office of Alternative Medicine--was established by law on Oct. 21, 1998, and was appropriated $50 million in FY 1999. The Office of Alternative Medicine originally had been established through congressional mandate in 1991as a coordinating center within the NIH Office of the Director. According to the congressional bill that established the NCCAM, the purpose of the center is to "conduct basic and applied research (intramural and extramural), research training, and disseminate health information and other programs with respect to identifying, investigating, and validating CAM treatments, diagnostic and prevention modalities, disciplines, and systems."

Dr. Straus will be the first director of the center and assumes this position Oct. 6. Dr. William Harlan, who has been acting director of NCCAM, will return full time to his position as director of the NIH Office of Disease Prevention.

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