NICM Newsletter 11


Director's Message

Since the commencement of the Australian National Institute of Complementary Medicine in 2007 (with support from the Australian Government, NSW State Government and the University of Western Sydney) we have provided a critical focal point for the complementary medicine sector. NICM has helped build the groundswell of collaborative efforts required to develop the evidence base to better integrate complementary medicine into routine healthcare.

Industry, the tertiary sector and other stakeholders have indicated their continued desire to invest in complementary medicine research, as is evidenced by the substantial cash ($30m) and in-kind ($45m) support committed to the 2010 application for a Cooperative Research Centre in Complementary Medicines. Despite this significant support and an impressive proposal, our bid was unsuccessful (only 4 in 30 applications succeeded). The bid nevertheless, demonstrated an unprecedented preparedness by industry to get involved in research with the right matching support. We continue to receive considerable encouragement from industry and university stakeholders, but we believe the appetite in Government for our proposed CRC is limited. Hence, we do not consider it worthwhile making the substantial investments required to resubmit in 2011.

At this stage the National Institute has not received further funding from the Commonwealth Government. However, the NSW Government, both previous and current, has signalled their support, as have key industry stakeholders. We are pursuing these avenues, including philanthropic support, in 2011.

Finally, the support for NICM since its establishment has been extraordinary, however NICM is now only able to undertake minimal activities. With the support of the University of Western Sydney I will be able to continue as an Interim Director until further funding is secured and a new Executive Director appointed. I have thoroughly enjoyed my role as Executive Director along with the ability to increase the national effort and build the evidence base on the value of complementary medicine in improving health outcomes in the community.

Thank you for your ongoing support of NICM.

Professor Alan Bensoussan June 2011

NICM Projects Update

Cost Effectiveness of CMA synopsis of our study is now available on the NICM website along with the full report. Access Economics were commissioned to evaluate the cost effectiveness of five complementary medicine interventions. Our findings demonstrated complementary medicines would have a positive impact on the national healthcare system if there is improved integration into daily medical practice.  

NICM Collaborative CentresNICM seeded three national collaborative centres in Traditional Chinese Medicine; Natural Medicine and Neurocognition; and Nutraceuticals and Herbal Medicine, which have effectively trebled the NICM investment. In doing so it has built research capacity in the area by supporting professional development of 13 PhD students and 21 research associates and post doctoral fellows. The NICM Collaborative Centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine developed Standard Operating Procedures for clinical trials for use by key partners and developed a rating scale for the evaluation of quality in acupuncture trials. Both have been realised through the formation of critical national researcher networks.

Integrative Care grants
NICM awarded six integrative care grants, two in partnership with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, to provide evidence and insight into optimal integrative care for target diseases. Project updates are now available.

Establishing CM Research Priorities
NICM established five Expert Working Groups (made up of industry, academic and clinical experts) to identify priority areas for future complementary medicine research according to health burden, high level of use and evidentiary gaps. The research priority report will be published later this year.

NICM Fact Sheets
The NICM website now features complementary medicine fact sheets for public use. They are available under the health information section of this site.

Industry News

Office of Preventative HealthNICM welcomes the NSW Liberal Party's recent announcement of support for a $120 million fighting fund for preventative health and the creation of an Office of Preventative Health to be located in South West Sydney. The office will have a statewide focus and be established in partnership with the University of Western Sydney. 

New Centre for Excellence in Integrative MedicineThe NSW Government and the Government of the People's Republic of China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support the development of the Healthpac Centre of Excellence in Integrated Medicine in Chatswood. The Centre is aimed at holistic patient care, wellness, health prevention and early intervention of chronic diseases. The Government of the People's Republic of China will provide specialist visiting medical staff and support services while partners such as University of Western Sydney (a foundation academic partner) will support clinical education and research with PhD students and other research staff.

NCCAM Strategic Plan 2011-15NCCAM in the US has released their third strategic plan - Exploring the Science of Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Third Strategic Plan 2011–2015. The plan presents a series of goals and objectives to guide NCCAM in determining priorities for future research in complementary and alternative medicine. To view the plan visit


The 5th International Conference on Mechanism of Action of Nutraceuticals
Registrations are now open to attend ICMAN5, the Fifth International Conference on Mechanisms of Action of Nutraceuticals to be held in Brisbane, Australia. ICMAN5 will take place on 13-15 October, 2011 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre and is set to attract leading international researchers, clinicians and pharmacists as well as industry and government leaders, to discuss the latest research in nutraceuticals and complementary medicines. Throughout the conference, delegates will have the opportunity to discuss the developments of therapies relevant to the prevention and treatment of chronic disease and conditions through plenary sessions, breakout seminars, posters and trade exhibitions.

This is the first time ICMAN has been held in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Facilitating Evidence-Based Integration of TCM in Australia
Registrations are now open to a forum on evidence based integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Australia to be held in Chatswood on 21-23 October 2011. The forum is designed to discuss the potential for greater integration of conventional medicine and TCM. International and local speakers will present in key areas of pain management, sleep disorders and rehabilitation.

The forum will provide an opportunity to reach common understanding on training, research and cooperation requirements, to create a platform to exchange new ideas. The forum will also provide the latest news on registration of TCM practitioners in Australia and issues in health record management in an integrative care setting. The forum is proudly supported by the State Administration of TCM (China), NSW Government, UWS, UTS, USyd, and UNSW. To register and see the preliminary agenda go