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Professor Ernst (October 2004 JRSM1) believes the UK Department of Health to be misguided in funding isolated postdoctorate fellowships in complementary medicine rather than 'centres of excellence' such as his own in Exeter. In my opinion, individual funding is the better route for people who wish to do practical research. The meta-analyses that represent a large part of the output of the Exeter centre certainly need to be done, but in many instances such studies ought to be conducted as preliminaries to new work in the laboratory or clinic. Professor Ernst's centre has also reported randomized trials, but there are dangers in conducting these from a centre dealing with 'complementary' techniques in general rather than in particular. Sometimes these have come under severe criticism from complementary practitioners. From my specialist knowledge of acupuncture, I have expressed grave doubts about the design and conclusions from one of the trials published from the Exeter unit.2 In terms of quality, the Department of Health may have chosen the best course.