David G.I. Kingston, University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has been named to the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Composed of approximately 25 physicians, scientists, and other licensed practitioners and experts in the field of alternative medicine, the council serves as the principle advisory body to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) — the lead federal agency for research in the field and a component of the National Institutes of Health.

In his new position, Kingston will meet with other council members three times per year to provide second-level peer review for research proposals funneled through initial review groups.  The council typically recommends 10 percent of the proposals for funding, choosing from a pool of research topics as diverse as natural products, yoga, and acupuncture.  

Although Kingston has been part of numerous initial review groups, he says the new appointment will allow him “to be part of a higher level of review, and make funding decisions that will contribute to [his] long-term goal of enhancing the role of natural products in drug use.”

Council members are appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Other recent appointees include Brian M. Berman, a professor of family medicine at the University of Maryland; Daniel C. Cherkin, a senior scientific investigator with the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle and affiliate professor of family medicine and health services at the University of Washington; and James Lloyd Michener, chairman of the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Duke University and director of the Duke Center for Community Research.

Kingston, who is an affiliated faculty member with the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech, is researching the chemistry of biologically active natural products related to cancer, the discovery of new anticancer agents from plants, and biodiversity conservation and drug discovery in tropical rainforests.  He is a research associate at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and two plants, Cordia kingstoniana and Taxus kingstonii, are named for him. He is principal investigator of the Madagascar International Cooperative Biodiversity Group program, which is administered by the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health, and he is particularly interested in training scientists from developing nations. Kingston has served as the president of the American Society of Pharmacognosy and as associate editor of the Journal of Natural Products.  He was Virginia Scientist of the Year in 2002 and the recipient of the American Chemical Society Ernest Guenther Award for the Chemistry of Natural Products in 2008.

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