Acupuncture, a component of traditional Chinese medicine, has been used for thousands of years to treat a multitude of ailments. Recent scientific evaluation has suggested that this therapy may demonstrate clinical benefit for a number of conditions including chronic pain, though the mechanisms of action have not been well understood. Our well-established group has been a leading force in acupuncture mechanism research for over a decade. In 2003 we were awarded NCCAM's """"""""Center of Excellence for Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine"""""""" (CERC, NCCAM P01 - AT002048, PI: Rosen) for our Center, """"""""The Neurobiological Effect of Acupuncture Action"""""""". The focus of our work thus far has been to explore central mechanisms of acupuncture efficacy by evaluating a distributed network of functionally, neurochemically, and neuroanatomically connected brain regions. While our data has consistently demonstrated significant cortical and subcortical effects on brain systems both during and following acupuncture treatment, a fundamental mystery remains - how are signals transduced from the local site of acupuncture stimulation to the brain in order to engender these unique effects? Several groups have pursued the question of peripheral effects of acupuncture treatment, studying both peripheral nerve receptors and connective tissues, but none have connected this work with acupuncture's central action. It is this important scientific gap that our P30 proposal intends to fill. With this P30 Core Center support, we will recruit, hire, and provide laboratory support for junior faculty who will have expertise in evidence-based evaluations of peripheral mechanisms for acupuncture action. By integrating new young investigators into the multidisciplinary team already established as part of our NCCAM Center of Excellence, we will, as a team, now be able to integrate studies of both central and peripheral evaluations of acupuncture effects with multimodal imaging methods, significantly improving our understanding of how and why acupuncture modulates clinically relevant outcome measures. Our established Center of Excellence provides an exceptional mentoring environment for our proposed new investigator. Along with the lead site of the Massachusetts General Hospital, the Osher Research Center at the Harvard Medical School will also be a participating institution, bringing their unique perspective on research into complementary and alternative medical treatments, and providing a rich intellectual community for our new faculty to interact within.

Public Health Relevance

Acupuncture is one of the most well researched and promising therapies within the Integrative Medicine armamentarium. The Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging has been a leading force in acupuncture mechanism research for over a decade. With this P30 Core Center support, we will expand our focus on central (brain) mechanisms of acupuncture action to include relevant research on mechanisms arising from physiological response at the site of acupuncture stimulation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
Center Core Grants (P30)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAT1-G (18))
Program Officer
Huntley, Kristen V
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Massachusetts General Hospital
United States
Zip Code
Li, Weihui; Ahn, Andrew C (2012) Pulsatile hemodynamics of hypertension: systematic review of aortic input impedance. J Hypertens 30:1493-9
Gow, Brian J; Cheng, Justine L; Baikie, Iain D et al. (2012) Electrical potential of acupuncture points: use of a noncontact scanning Kelvin probe. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2012:632838
Ahn, Andrew C; Gow, Brian J; Martinsen, Orjan G et al. (2012) Applying the Kelvin probe to biological tissues: theoretical and computational analyses. Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys 85:061901
Li, Weihui; Ahn, Andrew C (2011) Subcutaneous fascial bands--a qualitative and morphometric analysis. PLoS One 6:e23987
Ahn, Andrew C; Kaptchuk, Ted J (2011) Spatial anisotropy analyses of subcutaneous tissue layer: potential insights into its biomechanical characteristics. J Anat 219:515-24
Ahn, Andrew C; Park, Min; Shaw, Jessica R et al. (2010) Electrical impedance of acupuncture meridians: the relevance of subcutaneous collagenous bands. PLoS One 5:e11907