From the Director

Welcome to our Spring 2023 edition of the newsletter, where we celebrate a season of renewal and innovation. In this issue, we showcase our collective achievements, highlight significant developments in scientific research, and feature the esteemed awards that underscore our commitment to research excellence and its impact on health and wellbeing.

In the area of neurocognition and dementia research, in this edition you will read about our collective NHMRC grant success, as well as our team’s clinical trial results published earlier this month. The trial investigated the effects of the herbal extract, Sailuotong (SLT), for the treatment of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). The findings offer promise, showing that in 12 weeks, SLT can support important aspects of memory and thinking in people with mild cognitive impairment. It is also well-tolerated. However, more investment in this research is needed. Our next step is to conduct another trial with a larger sample size and longer treatment period to test whether SLT can be used to treat MCI and potentially delay a diagnosis of dementia.

We are also thrilled to celebrate numerous accolades and awards received by our researchers in recent months, reflecting our dedication to research excellence and impact. These moments of recognition extend beyond our immediate team, shared with every community member contributing to our research endeavours, reinforcing our shared commitment to making a difference.

Our researchers have been active on both local and international stages, participating in various conferences and presenting on a wide array of topics such as medicinal cannabis, integrative oncology, yoga, polycystic ovary syndrome, and engagement with culturally and linguistically diverse communities, to mention just a few. They have presented at the Beijing Forum of Evidence-Based Medicine; Natural Products Futures Forum; United in Compassion Conference; 21st World Congress of Psychophysiology; and the World Congress of Integrative Medicine and Health in Rome. Notably, our researchers received recognition for their research excellence with the ISCMR Scientific Article Prize, announced at this Congress and is highlighted in this issue.

We also had the opportunity to contribute and present at the inaugural World Health Organization (WHO) Traditional Medicine Global Summit,(opens in a new window) which took place in August in India. With participation from over 500 delegates worldwide, the Summit addressed crucial themes in traditional medicine: evidence and learning, data and analytics, innovation and digital health frontiers, biodiversity, sustainability, and equity. Dr Suzanne Grant chaired a roundtable for the WHO Evidence Review of Traditional Medicine Research Methods. I also had the honour of delivering a keynote address, discussing the integration of novel digital technology in traditional medicine research.

In other news related to traditional medicine, Professor Chun Guang Li continues to actively participate as an international delegate and expert in the committee meetings and working groups for the ISO Traditional Chinese medicine,(opens in a new window) with which he has been affiliate for many years. The committee has been working on developing the ISO Traditional Chinese medicines, covering terminology, information modelling and coding systems, standards for acupuncture needles, medical devices, and the quality of Chinese herbal medicines. Professor Li contributes to the working group dedicated to the quality and safety of raw materials and traditional processing methods, as well as the quality and safety of manufactured TCM products.

Before signing off, I extend heartfelt congratulations to our higher degree research candidates, especially Vicky Liu for her University Medal for her Master of Research, as well as Master of Research candidates Brigitte Linder, Kayla Jaye, Indeewarie Dissanayake Mudiyanselage, and Joelle Metri for all achieving a high distinction in their thesis. Additional congratulations to NICM HRI-BI Scholarship recipient, Fiona Hargraves, who impressively submitted her PhD thesis six months ahead of her scheduled submission date. Your exceptional dedication and outstanding results have truly made a mark, and we are all incredibly proud of your contributions to our research community.

I would also like to extend a special acknowledgment to Associate Professor Carolyn Ee and Dr Phoebe Zhou for their exceptional achievements.

Associate Professor Ee has been honoured with the 2023 Women’s Health Research and Translation Network Early-Mid Career Researcher Award.(Opens in a new window) This award not only allows her to expand her research program on weight gain after breast cancer but also facilitates the development of advanced analytical skills for longitudinal datasets. Additionally, she will have the invaluable opportunity to be mentored by Professor Bogda Koczwara from Flinders University, a renowned international leader in the field of breast cancer survivorship.

Dr Zhou has made remarkable strides, securing the inaugural Western Ventures prize at the 2023 Western Sydney University’s Research Impact Competition.(opens in a new window) This award supports projects with excellent commercialisation potential. Dr Zhou received $5000 towards her innovative research for Safety in Your Hands A User-Friendly Digital Tool for Drug-Health Supplement Interactions.

I hope you enjoy this edition. Here's to continuing our scientific discovery, innovation, and impact together.

With best wishes,

Professor Dennis Chang
7 November 2023