NICM Newsletter 14

November 2013

From the Director

As the new Federal Government comes into office, NICM continues to lobby for a stronger commitment to the complementary medicine sector. Prime Minister Tony Abbott launched NICM in his role as Health Minister in the Howard Government in 2007, and we are seeking a recommitment of his original support. NSW Government Member the Hon. Bryan Doyle has advanced the cause by speaking recently (Oct 15) in Parliament about the important role NICM has played in strengthening research relationships with China and promoting evidence based practice of Chinese medicine. We look forward to working with the Hon Bryan Doyle MP and the NSW Government to strengthen our capabilities and engagement in high quality complementary medicine research in the interests of all Australians.

The key message is this. Translating complementary medicine research into better health outcomes for all Australians is essential in an ageing population with chronic medical conditions and increasing health costs. In many cases complementary medicine interventions have been shown to be clinically effective, some with better safety profiles and greater cost effectiveness than conventional care while some are of doubtful merit. There is significant untapped potential to improve health outcomes through well developed and evidenced complementary medicines, and there has not been a better time to invest in the sector.

The level of commitment required is outlined in our Three Vital Research Investment Priorities (Research; Innovation; and Communication and Policy Development) formulated to leverage government, industry and community support for an evidence based complementary medicines sector. We are working with the key industry bodies to speak to Government with a united voice and we welcome your support for and input to the cause.

Professor Alan Bensoussan

NICM Activities

The Research Priorities Report

The establishment of Research Priorities for Complementary Medicine in Australia has been one of NICM's key initiatives in its first years of establishment.

The project commenced in 2009 and was finalised in late 2012. To help identify priorities for research in Australia, a review was commissioned of the available evidence for the therapeutic use of complementary medicine in several key areas of Australia's National Health Priorities. This report documents the main findings of the review, and the processes undertaken to arrive at the findings.

The report seeks to 'narrow the field' and identify those treatments that might offer the greatest potential to contribute positively to Australia's healthcare needs. The end result is a considered perspective on where some of our future research effort should be directed.

NHMRC resource to assist clinicians engage with patients using complementary medicine

The National Health and Medical Research Council recently released their draft Complementary and Alternative Medicine Resource for Clinicians for public consultation. The NHMRC seeks to develop materials to promote awareness amongst clinicians of the importance of discussing complementary medicine use with their patients.

NICM has provided a submission in response and commends the NHMRC on developing a document that encourages clinicians to communicate openly and respectfully about the evidence for and against the benefits and harms of CM use. NICM makes a number of suggestions for enhancing the effectiveness of NHMRC's communications strategy and materials.

Research Activities

Audit of CM Research in Australia

In the coming months we will be updating the 2008 survey of the status of Complementary Medicine Research in Australia. Five years ago, NICM performed an audit to gain a snapshot of complementary medicine research activity at the time and build on some preliminary data collected in 2005. The report from this previous survey can be found here. Now in 2013, we believe these data need to be updated, and this time we will be casting the net more widely and encouraging a wider participation in the study. We seek to gain a deeper understanding of who is doing what around the country, with what resources, and whether and how the complementary medicine research sector is changing. Currently there is no such comprehensive data available for Australia.

This survey will be conducted in an online format and will be distributed by email to researchers publishing in the area as well as via a call out on websites such as the NICM website and through other organisations involved with complementary medicine research. The link will also be available in the next NICM newsletter. By gaining an understanding of the breadth and depth of Australian complementary medicine research, we hope to increase its profile as well as enhance opportunities for research collaboration. We encourage you to take the time to complete the survey and ask you to invite other associates to whom you think this might also apply.

Request for Participants: Research into impact of registration on CM practice

Researchers at Bond University and UTS are currently seeking participants for focus groups to discuss the impact of professional registration on CM practice, to help develop guidelines and recommendations to ensure that registration standards appropriately reflect complementary medicine (CM) practice whilst also protecting the public.

It is expected that through this research into stakeholder perceptions of CM registration, which has been funded by Bond University, a clearer picture of barriers to compliance with regulatory and legislative obligations will be gained. This information will be relevant not only to the question of registration of practitioners, but also to how practitioners and industry players manage the requirements of, and perceive, Australia's regulatory framework for CM more generally. NICM looks forward to incorporating the published findings into its policy and advisory work, in particular its current projects addressing regulatory disincentives to industry investment in evidence-based practice but also more broadly.

NICM Research Study Scholarships: Express Your Interest Now

The UWS Honours Program is available to all Bachelor's Degree graduates who are interested in further study and for people looking to resume study to pursue their research interests. Honours is an excellent platform for a doctoral research program, a future academic career, for broadening practitioner skills and knowledge, and for industry-based research positions. Visit our website to see currently available Honours Projects ( and contact Jo Packer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for advice on how to apply. A small number of scholars will be offered annual stipends on a competitive basis of $5,000 per annum to meet with expenses.

NICM Events

NICM International Award Celebration a Great Success

On the 27th September 2013, NICM hosted an official visit by His Excellency Consul General Li Huaxin and Science Consul He Fuxiang of the People's Republic of China in order to present the International Award for Contribution to Chinese Medicine to Professor Alan Bensoussan. This event, also attended by Government dignitaries, Industry Partners, members of the Jacka Foundation, the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UWS, and others, was held at the request of the Consul General and mirrored the initial presentation of the Award to Prof Bensoussan in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in June this year.

The speakers highlighted the significance of the Complementary Medicine sector in Australia, the significance of the partnership between China and Australia, the strength of research in the field, and the vision for the future of complementary therapies.

In accepting his award, Professor Bensoussan reflected on his interest and career in Chinese Medicine. He acknowledged the role of governments, industry partners, colleagues, staff and his family in providing him with continued support as NICM and its research arm, CompleMED, grew into the successful and highly respected organisation that it is today.

NICM Visitors

In early October, NICM was host to Dr Robert Schneider, the principal investigator for several of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded studies, who spoke on collaborative research opportunities for non-drug approaches to the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Dr Schneider has been a consultant to numerous US government agencies, including the NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Presidential Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the U.S. Congress‚ Prevention Coalition. Dr Schneider is a frequent lecturer on natural health care at medical meetings on four continents.

Dr (Col) D.P. Attrey, Director Innovation and Research, Food Technology & Director Amity Institute of Seabuckthorn Research (AISR), Amity University Uttar Pradesh, also took time to visit the Institute with a view to future collaborations in clinical trials for Indian traditional medicine.

In early November, NICM hosted two further visits. Professor Lixing Lao has been recently appointed as Director of the School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong and who comes to that position from his most recent role as Director of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Research Program (CIM), University of Maryland Baltimore. Mr Ma Jianzhong, Deputy Commissioner, China State Administration of TCM toured the NICM facilities on the recommendation of Dr Fuxiang He, Consul for S&T Affairs, Consulate General of the People's Republic of China. Both visitors took the opportunity to discuss areas of potential future collaboration and exchange.

New NICM appointments

With the new structure in place, Ros Priest will now move into the role of Manager Research Strategy and Partnerships with responsibility for supporting NICM's partners, and identifying and negotiating new partnerships, collaborations and business opportunities.

We are pleased and fortunate to be able to provide Ros with this new focus for her considerable background and capabilities, gained over many years as a practitioner and then as an able and effective research administrator. Ros has been with the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research at UWS for 11 years and during that time she has played a key enabling role in establishing and growing both CompleMED and NICM.

The appointment provides room for Ros to concentrate on business development opportunities both nationally and internationally. If you have a collaboration or business opportunity you would like to discuss please contact Ros at

Upcoming Events

Blackmores Institute Symposium

Integrating Natural Medicine into Community Pharmacy - An Evidence Based Approach
28 February – 1 March 2014
Australian Technology Park Sydney

With support from the NICM, the inaugural Blackmores Institute Symposium being held in Sydney from 28th February – 1 March 2014 promises to be a game-changing event aimed at working with community pharmacy to grow knowledge of the role evidence-based, natural medicines can play in improving Australian health outcomes.

To for more information or to register visit

World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

New Frontiers in Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Research
17-20 August 2014Brisbane

With multiple new and on-going research activities in Asian, South-East Asian and Oceania countries, WOCMAP V will offer unique opportunities to present and discuss research findings on all aspects of research on medicinal and aromatic plants. Nine symposia will cover the breadths of the field. Selected keynote speakers will offer insight into cutting edge research in the field and of course the World Congress will be an ideal networking platform.

Call for Papers

Special Issue on "Role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) in Controlling Dyslipidemia"

To be published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in April 2014. The Call-for-Papers for this Special Issue can be found at, and the deadline for submission is November 29, 2013.

The Special Issue is open to both original research articles as well as review articles. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine is a peer-reviewed open access journal, which means that all published articles are made freely available online without a subscription, and authors retain the copyright of their work. Moreover, all published articles will be made available on PubMed Central and indexed in PubMed at the time of publication.

NICM is grateful for the generous annual philanthropic and sponsor support that it receives for its operations from the Jacka Foundation of Natural Therapies , Soho Flordis International, Blackmores and Catalent.