From the Director

What an action packed final three months to 2019. Our first stage state-of-the-art herbal pharmacology and chemistry laboratories, including our medicinal cannabis laboratory, have been completed and our colleagues have now moved from Campbelltown campus. It is such a delight to have everyone co-located now at Westmead. Our laboratories have successfully completed all their licencing requirements (PC2, TGA GMP, and State and Federal cannabis licences). Our next and final stage laboratories will be completed in 2020. We very much welcome industry partners, clinicians and other colleagues with an interest in complementary medicine research and development to visit our world-class facilities.

Yesterday Western Sydney University officially renamed the St Vincent’s Building at Westmead campus in honour of a great supporter and benefactor Dr Marcus Blackmore AM - The Marcus Blackmore Building. Marcus has been a wonderful supporter of NICM and advocate for research in complementary medicine for decades. A well-deserved tribute to an impressive Australian business leader and philanthropist.

NICM and Western Sydney University have also had the pleasure of signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the All India Institute of Ayurveda, Ministry of AYUSH, Government of the Republic of India in November. This will provide an important opportunity to advance strong collaborative research to explore the traditional health practices of Ayurvedic medicine.

In this newsletter you will also read we have four new PhD scholarships, with the generous support of the Blackmores Institute and the Jacka Foundation of Natural Therapies, but also including a substantial scholarship dedicated to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Program, seeking to undertake important research in Australian bush medicine.

In other news, the Government’s Natural Therapies Review 2019-20 process has commenced, led by Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy. We are very proud to signal that four NICM academics have been invited to serve on committees supporting this review process, including myself, Professor Caroline Smith, Dr Jen Hunter and Professor Stephen Myers.

This year has definitely been a big year, especially with Western Sydney University celebrating its 30-year anniversary after having been formally constituted in 1989. The University over this time has grown significantly with 10 teaching campuses, over 48,000 students, 3,000 staff and 180,000 alumni. The University is a source of pride and achievement for the people of Western Sydney, who see the University as one of Australia’s ­ – and indeed the world’s – great universities, ranked in the top two per cent of universities worldwide according to the prestigious Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Western has also been ranked 1st in the world for its work to address gender equality, and 2nd for reducing inequalities by promoting inclusive and equitable quality education, according to the inaugural Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings. Overall, the University achieved a ranking of 11th – placing it in the top 20 universities worldwide, and the highest ranked university in Australia.

Along with the University’s anniversary and its outstanding achievements, it is hard for me to believe I have worked at Western for 30 years. As I reflect on this time, I am immensely proud of all that has been accomplished over the years by the teams that I have worked with in the field of complementary and integrative medicine, and I look forward to continue to advance our work at NICM in 2020.

In closing off for the year, I wish to extend appreciation to our donors, industry partners, our dedicated Advisory Board and Research Committee, NICM research and professional staff and students for your unwavering commitment and support for our vision and mission.

On behalf of the NICM team, we wish you and your families a happy holiday period, a restful and safe break, and will see you back again in a fresh new decade.

NICM offices are now closed for the holiday break, and will open again Monday, 6 January 2020, when normal business hours will resume.

With best wishes,

Professor Alan Bensoussan

20 December 2019