NICM Newsletter 8

Message from the Executive Director

Welcome to the first NICM newsletter for 2009. The next four months will be a busy period for the Institute with our integrated care grants application period coming to a close at the end of March and announcement of the successful programs in May. We will be launching NICM's inaugural Research Excellence Awards later this month and holding a health economics forum in May. Our key event of the year, the NICM National Symposium, is scheduled to occur in Brisbane in June. Please continue to visit our website for updates on all of these initiatives.

Our work on refining research priorities is continuing and the Institute has been invited to present our findings at one of the world's biggest complementary medicine events in May this year. The North American Research Conference for Complementary and Integrative Medicine will be held in Minneapolis, and we will be presenting alongside key international agencies including the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. A progress report will also be provided to the NICM National Symposium in June. Input to the priority development process can be made through a survey now available on our website.

The Government has recently made changes to the National Medicines Policy and we welcome the introduction of a complementary medicines representative on the National Medicines Policy Committee. I am honoured to take up this role and look forward to the opportunity to represent the complementary medicine sector on emerging medicines policy issues.

In January, the Institute submitted a paper to the Preventative Health Taskforce, which is now available on the website under the Policy and Advocacy section. NICM supports the commitment by the Australian Government to reforming the healthcare system through a greater focus on health maintenance and disease prevention and the strategic and sustained approach proposed by the Taskforce.

In February, NICM hosted a grants pitching forum for complementary medicine researchers preparing grant applications. I would like to acknowledge and extend my sincere thanks to Professor Tony Smith from our Scientific Advisory Committee, Associate Professor Naomi Rogers (Brain & Mind Research Institute) and Dr Shane Grey (Garvan Institute) for so generously giving their time and invaluable feedback to potential applicants.

We have started to roll out the redevelopment of our website and we welcome any feedback on our new features including news feed, funding calendar and calendar of events.

Professor Alan Bensoussan Executive Director

Seed Funding for integrated care projects

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 is the closing date for applications to NICM's seed funding for integrated care research initiatives. NICM welcomes applications from individuals and teams seeking to undertake research into integrated care and associated data collection to demonstrate safety, clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness.

Projects can receive up to $30,000. To assist the Institute in establishing appropriate panels and managing the process as expeditiously as possible, we are asking intending applicants to complete and return a short 'intention to lodge' form.

Research Excellence Awards 2009

The Institute will be launching the inaugural NICM Complementary Medicine Research Excellence Awards on March 16. Seven awards will be given, categories including leadership and collaboration, basic and translational research and emerging researcher Awards. This program has been established to recognise and reward Australia's complementary medicine researchers for work that is innovative, exemplifies scientific rigor, addresses fundamental issues and contributes to our knowledge and more broadly to the growth of a robust research sector. Details and forms will be available on the NICM site from 16 March 2009.

Research priorities survey

As part of its research priorities development process, NICM is seeking input from a range of stakeholders through a survey available at

Note that responses are due by Friday 3 April 2009.

Training and Professional Development

On Monday February 9 NICM hosted a pitching forum for complementary medicine researchers intending to lodge applications to grants programs such as the NHMRC.

We would like to thank Professor Tony Smith, Newcastle Mater Hospital; Associate Professor Naomi Rogers, Brain and Mind Institute; and Dr Shane Grey from the Garvan Institute for being our panel members for this session. Their feedback and input into each application was rigorous and illuminating.

We would also like to thank the researchers who took up this opportunity. The aim of this program is to help increase the grant success rates of complementary medicine researchers by helping people hone their applications. This will become an annual event and the Institute strongly encourages people to participate in next year's program.

The quality of the science and the general professionalism of the presentations this year was a highlight with all presentations receiving valuable feedback from the panel. We wish all the researchers the best of luck with their applications.

Health Economics

This Preliminary studies and usage patterns indicate that complementary medicine represents substantial potential in disease prevention, in addressing the burden of chronic disease and achieving greater health and wellbeing at reduced cost.

A 2008 evaluation of a pilot project providing patients with access to a range of complementary medicine therapies through their GPs in Northern Ireland has highlighted potential cost savings, improved outcomes and issues arising from an integrated healthcare approach. The report, The Northern Ireland Complementary and Alternative Medicine Pilot Project commissioned by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety was recently released, revealing a number of opportunities and issues relevant to the Australian health sector.  

NICM is planning to commission relevant health economic studies to identify cost savings or improved outcomes that may be associated with the use of complementary medicine interventions (products and services), against comparator interventions. We also seek to identify relevant approaches that could be incorporated into future studies. NICM is hosting an invitation only forum in May to inform and progress work in this area.

Clinical Trials

As part of our website redevelopment NICM has included a section on clinical trials. If you are arranging a complementary medicine clinical trial and would like to promote the details and dates on our site and fill out the information form.

Diary Note

This NICM National Symposium - Supporting health priorities and industry growth
Date: Friday 19 June 2009
Location: Brisbane

The National Symposium will bring together researchers, industry and government representatives to explore two themes fundamental to the sector's future:
* Supporting health outcomes: focusing effort through research priorities aligned with national reforms; lessons from other sectors in bridging evidence to practice.
* Supporting industry growth: emerging partnerships and initiatives.

Senator Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing will open the event, which will include keynote presentations and panel discussions. Details and registration will be made available on the NICM website later this month.

The NICM Collaborative Centre networking forum will be held on the Thursday prior (18 June, closed event).

North American Research Conference for Complementary and Integrative Medicine
Date: May 12-15, 2009
Location: Hilton Minneapolis Hotel, Minneapolis, USA

The conference will showcase original scientific complementary, alternative and integrative medical research (CAIM) through five keynote and plenary presentations, oral and poster presentations, and innovative scientific sessions. NICM is a listed participating organisation of this event.
For more information visit -

Heart Foundation Conference 2009 Date: 14-16 May 2009
Location: Brisbane

The conference will focus on public health, research and clinical issues relating to cardiovascular health and form part of the Heart Foundation 50th anniversary celebrations. In November 2008 the Heart Foundation released an updated Position Statement on fish, fish oils, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular health. For more information visit