Photo of Dr. Nicholas H. Oberlies

Dr. Nicholas Oberlies

Only 30 percent of individuals using natural products, such as dietary supplements or herbal remedies, tell their doctors, yet when those products are combined with conventional medicine, they can trigger potentially detrimental interactions.

Over the next five years, chemists from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro will be collaborating with researchers on the other side of the country to create a new Center of Excellence for Natural Product Drug Interaction Research, which will study drug-diet interaction.

The goal of the project is to study how the body’s break down of natural products impacts the effects of modern medicine. That information will then be used to create models that predict reactions in human beings. Researchers will also develop and share best practices for studying drug-natural product interactions with the rest of the scientific community.

“In order to use the computer models, you actually have to have data to back it up,” said Dr. Nick Oberlies, UNCG’s lead scientist on the project.

“At UNCG, we’re all chemists,” he said. “Our focus in the project is to actually figure out how to measure these things.”

Researchers at the University of Washington, Washington State University and UNCG received a $2,015,154 grant for The Center of Excellence for Natural Product Drug Interaction Research from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which is a part of the Department of Health and Human Service’s National Institutes of Health for the first year of research. The total award is expected to amount to $10 million.


Story by Jeanie Groh, University Relations