From the Director

It has been uplifting to see the vaccination response in Australia, and NSW particularly, which is enabling us to ease restrictions and re-open the state again. With the festive season upon us, I am sure many will join me in welcoming the holiday break, the long-awaited opportunity to reconnect with family, possibly travel, and take the time to recharge and re-energise.

This year was another year of unprecedented and unexpected challenges from COVID-19. I am proud of our researchers and the University’s resilience and dedication to deliver world-class research and education and adapt to working in new and innovative ways.

Since our last newsletter, over the last six months we have announced some new and exciting partnerships and initiatives, of which you will read about in this issue. In September we became the first Australian university to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Government’s Ministry of AYUSH to appoint in 2022 an Academic Chair in Ayurvedic Medicine. The collaboration will build capacity for the evidenced-based validation of Ayurvedic medicine and aligned therapies such as Ayurveda herbal medicine, yoga and meditation. Last week we also announced our new partnership with Next Practice to create Australia’s first university-based integrative healthcare centre, Next Practice Care of Western Sydney Integrative Health.(opens in a new window) Set to open towards the end of January 2022, the healthcare services will include general practice, integrative medicine, pathology, psychology, yoga therapy, mindfulness and tai chi, oncology and remedial massage, acupuncture, and Chinese herbal medicine. The clinic is part of Western Sydney University’s extensive research presence at Westmead, which includes the Westmead Innovation Quarter (IQ) – an extraordinary $350 million investment in world-class health, medical and education research that will open in March 2022, and deliver health, social and economic benefits for the people of Western Sydney.

The renovation of our lower ground laboratory facilities which will include a GMP manufacturing facility, natural product R&D lab, and additional PC2 pharmacological space has been delayed due to COVID lockdown. However, construction has recommenced and we are now on track for completion in April 2022.

In this issue you will also read about our latest research and news stories on zinc, endometriosis, medicinal cannabis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

This year our researchers have published over 160 papers, 70% of which were published in the top quartile journals. The Field Weighted Citation Index of our publications is above the benchmark for the Group Eight universities in Australia, and the top 10 integrative and complementary medicine academic institutes worldwide. A wonderful achievement, and well deserved congratulations to all those who have been busy publishing throughout the year.

Congratulations are also extended to external competitive grant winners Dr Suzanne Grant and Dr Diana Karamacoska and their respective projects which are featured in this newsletter issue.

I am pleased to also announce our team’s recent success in academic promotions and congratulate Dr Karamacoska, Dr Mitch Low and Dr Michelle Lui.

In further celebrations, I congratulate Dr Carolyn Ee and Dr Mike Amour for their leadership and research excellence, having been recipients at the Western Sydney University’s 2021 Excellence Awards. Dr Ee awarded the 2021 Vice-Chancellor’s Excellence in Research by an Early Career Researcher Award. Dr Amour and the Menstruation Matters team were awarded Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President, Research, Enterprise and International Award for Excellence in Research in Interdisciplinary Group Award.

Professor Jerome Sarris has also received recognition of his research excellence, recently receiving global accolades, being recognised by Expertscape as a World Expert in Anti-Anxiety Agents, calculated to be in the top 0.1% of scholars writing about mental health over the past 10 years.

In addition, Associate Professor Genevieve Steiner received an award at the inaugural Australasian Society for Psychophysiology (ASP) EMCR Awards for 2021 in recognition of her long-standing history of service and dedication to the Society.

In signing off, I would like to thank our academic and professional staff and students for their wonderful efforts, not just persevering, but excelling, through another difficult year and extend our upmost appreciation to our donors, industry partners, our Advisory Board and Research Committee.

Western Sydney University and our offices will be closed from tomorrow, Tuesday 21 December (inclusive) for the holiday break, and will open again on Tuesday 4 January 2022 when normal business hours will resume.

On behalf of NICM HRI, I wish you and your families a very happy, safe and relaxing holiday break and New Year.

With best wishes,

Professor Dennis Chang

20 December 2021