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NIH Office of Dietary Supplements Expands Research Support



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 1, 1998
CONTACT: Rebecca B. Costello, Ph.D.
Office of Dietary Supplements
(301) 435-2920

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements Expands Research Support

The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) today announced the funding of four new research grants and the continuation of support for three existing grants to explore the potential role of dietary supplements in health promotion and disease prevention. These new projects bring to 13 the number of studies that have been funded by the ODS in conjunction with selected NIH Institutes through the NIH Research Enhancement Awards Program.

The NIH Research Enhancement Awards Program (REAP), originally designed by the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health, is a process whereby investigator-initiated grant applications are received and reviewed through the standard NIH peer review process. Highly meritorious applications that fall at the border of an Institute's funding resources and are within the research interests of the ODS can be nominated by NIH Institutes to receive full or partial funding from ODS.

"These four grants, continue to move the ODS into new exciting scientific areas about dietary supplements and health," said Dr. Bernadette M. Marriott, Director of the ODS. "We're enthusiastic about the positive response the Institutes continued to give the REAP program and their interest in partnering with the ODS in support of these important projects."

In conjunction with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the ODS is funding a project at Brown University to evaluate in a tribe of rural Native Americans a possible link between the susceptibility for problems associated with alcohol abuse and low neurotransmitter levels of serotonin. Low serotonin levels may be a result of low dietary intakes of the amino acid tryptophan, which, in turn, can result from a habitual diet high in carbohydrates and low in quality proteins. Some Native American populations may be at risk for alcohol-related problems due to inadequate consumption of tryptophan or one of the micronutrients that convert tryptophan to serotonin.

The National Institute of Dental Research and the ODS will cosponsor a project at the Harvard University School of Dental Medicine that will examine the relationship between oral health and coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke. The main hypothesis is that tooth loss leads to poor chewing ability, which may result in a reduced intake of dietary antioxidants and fiber, and, in turn, increase the risk of CHD. It is known that tooth loss affects the composition of one's diet and diet has been shown to be a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The study will examine dental health, diet, and nutrient supplement consumption data obtained from more than 50,000 men and 90,000 women currently enrolled in other studies funded by the NIAAA, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Studying the potential relationship between dental disease, which is exceedingly common, and cardiovascular disease, which remains the leading cause of death in all developed countries, is of great importance to public health. The proposed study could provide important new approaches for the prevention of CHD and stroke.

The ODS and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders will cosponsor a study at Florida State University to examine the actions of zinc and copper, two metals that are essential to proper brain development and function. The appropriate balance of these metals in the body is strongly influenced by dietary components. Deficiencies or excesses of copper and zinc have been associated with a number of neuropathologic diseases of aging in humans, such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and stroke. The primary goal of these basic research studies is to explore the regulatory actions of zinc and copper and their effect on the nervous system.

In cooperation with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the ODS is funding a new project at Georgetown University that will focus on the role and action of metallothionein, a key enzyme that regulates levels of zinc in different tissues throughout the body. This research may offer unique insights into the role of specific gene products and their effect on nutrition and metabolism.

The ODS will continue to cosponsor three studies initially funded through its 1997 REAP Awards. The ODS and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development are cosponsoring a project at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas to measure the benefits of intestinal supplementation of three amino acids - - glutamate, glycine and cysteine - - in infants with ineffective intestinal metabolic function. The study will help clarify the role of these key amino acids in inhibition and stimulation of glutathione synthesis in the intestinal tract. Glutathione is a substance that may have a protective effect against dietary and bacterial toxins found in infants whose intestinal function may be impaired by disease.

The ODS and NCI will continue to fund a project at the State University of New York Health Sciences Center, Stony Brook to study the possible risks and benefits of supplementation of cancer patients with the amino acid, L-arginine. Results of these studies on how arginine supplements influence protein synthesis rates and cell proliferation will provide new information on the role of this amino acid in tumor stimulation and suppression.

A project at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas on the role of antioxidants in cataract development in persons with diabetes is being cosponsored by the National Eye Institute and ODS. A key aim of this study will be to determine if antioxidants act to detoxify specific compounds produced in the lens of humans and animal models.

The Office of Dietary Supplements was established at NIH in November 1995 as a result of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act passed by Congress in 1994. The goals of ODS are to explore more fully the potential role of dietary supplements as a significant part of the efforts of the United States to improve health care; to promote scientific study of dietary supplements in maintaining health and preventing chronic disease; and to conduct and coordinate scientific research within the National Institutes of Health relating to dietary supplements. The ODS expects to continue to fund investigator-initiated awards through the REAP program as a means to expand research opportunities in the area of dietary supplements.

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NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Research Enhancement Awards Program (REAP) Awards, FY 98

NEW RESEARCH PROJECTS
Principal Investigator(s)
Institution
NIH Institute
Tryptophan and Native American Alcoholism Walter R. Adams, Ph.D. Brown University
Providence, RI
NIAAA
Chronic Dental Disease and Cardiovascular Disease Kaumudi Joshipura, BDS, D.Sc. Harvard University
School of Dental Medicine
Cambridge, MA
NIDR
Modulation of Olfactory Circuits Paul Q. Trombley, Ph.D. Flroida State University
Tallahassee, FL
NIDCD
Zinc Kinetics in Metallothionen Knockout Mice Meryl Wastney, Ph.D. Georgetown University Medical Center
Washington, DC
NIDDK
CONTINUING RESEARCH PROJECTS
Principal Investigator(s)
Institution
NIH Institute
Oxidative Damage in Sugar-Induced Cataractogenesis Naseem Ansari, Ph.D. University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, TX NEI
Metabolic Implication of Dietary Arginine Supplements Peter J. Garlick, Ph.D. State University of New York Health Sciences Center
Stony Brook, NY
NCI
Parenteral Nutrition and Mucosal Amino Acid Metabolism Peter J. Reeds, Ph.D. Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX
NICHD

The Office of Dietary Supplements was established at NIH in November 1995 as a result of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act passed by Congress in 1994. The goals of ODS are to explore more fully the potential role of dietary supplements as a significant part of the efforts of the United States to improve health care; promote scientific study of the benefits of dietary supplements in maintaining health and chronic disease; and conduct and coordinate scientific research within the National Institutes of Health relating to dietary supplements.