Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology

Complementary Alternative Medicine

NIH defines CAM as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.  CAM practices are often grouped into broad categories, such as natural products, mind-body medicine, practices that focus on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior. 

A large proportion of Americans use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) particularly against chronic ailments that currently do not have good conventional medicine treatment options. The 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, showed that approximately 38 percent of adults use CAM.  Also, it was noted that Americans spent $33.9 billion/year out-of-pocket on CAM of which ~$20 billion each year was spent on dietary supplements. 

SOM hosts an NIH Center for CAM against Inflammatory and Autoimmune Diseases.  It is one of 11 Centers in the nation.  The center’s underlying research focus is to study the mechanisms by which plant/herbal products suppress the immune system and inflammation so that they can be used as preventive or therapeutic modalities in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, autoimmune hepatitis and colitis.  In addition, SOM faculty are also working on other CAM approaches to treat wide range of diseases.

SOM also hosts an NIH COBRE Center for Dietary Supplements and Inflammation.  The Center integrates faculty from six of USC’s colleges to conduct research on the mechanism of regulation of inflammation by dietary supplements during  chronic inflammatory processes associated with cancer, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimer's and several other autoimmune diseases. The long term objective of the CDSI is to build a self-sustaining, nationally recognized multi-disciplinary Center for dietary supplements and inflammation research, by promoting innovation, faculty entrepreneurship, collaborative research projects and clinical/translational research. The Center is supported by state-of-art Microscopy and Imaging Core, Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Core, Immune Monitoring Core and the Administrative core. 

The list of faculty interested in CAM research is shown below:   
Prakash Nagarkatti, PhD
Mitzi Nagarkatti, PhD
Taixing Cui, PhD
Daping Fan, PhD
Ben Guan, PhD
Venkatesh Hegde, PhD
Lydia Matesic. PhD
Melissa Moss, PhD
Angela Murphy, PhD
Robert Price, PhD
Swapan Ray, PhD
Narendra Singh, PhD
Udai Singh, PhD
Ugra Singh, PhD
Juhua Zhou, PhD