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Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Just before the Nobel Prizes were announced this week, NIH posted a delightful press release on its website announcing three new Centers of Excellence in Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Great! I'm so excited to hear that NIH is pouring more money down this oh-so-promising black hole of negative results and poorly conducted studies!

Now, I can just hear the CAM-fans protesting: "why are you opposed to doing studies of our methods? Are you afraid that studies will prove some of them work?" (This isn't a straw man argument, by the way - I've been asked precisely this question.) Well no, of course I'm not afraid that studies will prove that [acupuncture - homeopathy - naturopathy - Ayurveda - chiropractic - voodoo] will work. There are so many problems (with this CAM announcement) that I don't know where to begin, but one major problem is that studies have already been done, and all the results are negative. As CAM's acting director, Ruth Kirshstein, writes in her request for over $121 million for next year's CAM budget, NCCAM has supported research at more than 260 institutions over the past 7 years. Have any positive results emerged? No. Why throw good money after bad? We shouldn't.

Some of my blogosphere colleagues have already put forward some excellent arguments for why NCCAM's funding should be eliminated - see the recent post by Steven Novella, who argues:

Why can’t studies of CAM modalities be funded through the regular NIH? Because the NIH has standards, and what passes for research in the CAM world is often so laughably pathetic that it could never mean the NIH standard and get funded. NCCAM was created to provide a much lower standard for CAM research. In other words – waste money on studies that are not worth funding when judged by the usual criteria.
I couldn't have expressed it better. If this work is any good, it will get funded through the regular NIH mechanisms. Also see the comments of ScienceZoo, who points out that none of the three new CAM Centers are likely to find effective therapies for what they claim to be studying.

Oh great, more "alternative medicine" funding from NIH

While I was celebrating this announcement from NIH, I couldn't help myself (I was so excited!!!) from looking at what their existing "Centers of Excellence" devote themselves to. You can find a list here, and it includes one for acupuncture (see my previous post on that topic), energy medicine (what the heck is that? I'll blog on it another time), and "mindfulness-based stress reduction" in HIV.

That last one is really rather appalling: they will investigate using meditation techniques as a way to "slow disease progression and delay the need for antiretroviral treatment." So they're going to tell HIV-positive patients to delay taking proven therapies and try meditation instead? How many patients need to die before they admit this isn't a good idea.

So you see, we have so much to celebrate this week. Three new NCCAM centers and a request for another $121 million in NCCAM funds next year. I'm so happy.

from Steven Salzberg's BLOG about genomics, evolution,pseudoscience.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007


The Victorian Minister for Industry & Trade, Hon. Theo Theophanous, will be leading a trade mission to Athens from 9-14 November 2007. This mission is being organised by the Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HACCI) and the Victorian Government's Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development (DIIRD) and is open to suitable Victorian companies looking to export to Greece.

The mission aim is to connect Victorian exporters with Greek buyers and therefore grow trade between the two markets. To ensure that participants connect with the right buyers, participants will be presented with a tailored business partner matching program and the opportunity to network at invitation only trade receptions in Athens hosted by the Minister.

BY Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Let us build the low-carbon city for a sustainable planet !"

Dear Colleagues,

We are very pleased to invite you to take part in the new Sustainable Building Event

for the Mediterranean region (SB07MED&EXPO), an International Conference&Expo

that will be held in Athens on the 10th-12th January 2008, with the title :

"The Mediterranean City facing climate change :

Innovation, Investment, Governance, for a low-carbon city"

Venue : Technopolis, Cultural Center of the City of Athens, 100, Piraeus str.,118 54 Athens, Greece

This event, put under the aegis of the French Embassy in Greece,
and the International Organisations iiSBE, CIB and UNEP/DTIE,

will be a full part of the SB07 regional event series and as

such treated in the preparation for the Global Sustainable Building 2008

Conference to be held in September 2008 in Melbourne.

The event is initiated and co-ordinated by the SD-MED Network,

a Hellenic-French and International initiative aiming at promoting and

developing scientific and technical co-operation between players at various different

levels (local, regional, national, European, international) and between

civil society agencies actively involved in sustainable construction and sustainable city fields in the Mediterranean region.

For detailed information about the Tentative Agenda and the Call For a limited number of Papers,

Registration Procedure and other useful Information about the Conference and Expo, you may visit

our Conference Blog: http://www.sd-med.com

The English version is directly accessible on http://www.sd-med.com/article-11406351.html

Please note that the Deadline for the Abstract Submission is the 15th of

September 2007. For information and pre-registration or for any other information you may need

please contact the SD-Med Secretariat : Address : 5, Fratti Str., 117 42 Athens, Greece,

Tel,Fax : 0030-210-9235310

e-mail: forum@sd-med.org

to the attention of
Mrs Natasa Lymberakou, Coordination Manager SD-Med and/or
Mrs Sophia Goutzamani, Communication Manager SD-Med

We remain at your disposal for any further information or clarification

that you might need.

On behalf of the Organising Commitee, we are looking forward to meeting you again in Athens, at the beginning of next year !

Kind regards,

Stella Kyvelou