Complimenting complementary medicine research

Media Release date: June 19, 2009

Some of the leading lights of Australian complementary medicine research have been acknowledged at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine's (NICM) inaugural Research Excellence Awards announced at the NICM National Symposium – Supporting Health Priorities and Industry Growth, in Brisbane today.  The awards announced by Michael Smith, Director, Office of Complementary Medicines, Therapeutic Goods Administration were established to encourage and reward work that exemplifies scientific rigor in advancing the evidence base for complementary medicine. Through highlighting research excellence, NICM is able to address the national health reform agenda of prevention and the potential to deliver integrated care through multidisciplinary teams. The response to the awards program demonstrates the development of the field in Australia according to NICM Executive Director, Professor Alan Bensoussan. "The judges were very impressed with the applications that we received, particularly given the relative youth of the sector as a whole", said Professor Bensoussan.  "The depth and range of talent in Australia is growing and the time is right to highlight the work of individuals whose work is making a significant impact on building the scientific evidence to support the use of complementary medicine therapies. By acknowledging research excellence we can encourage projects that build evidence of safety and efficacy, and that seek ways to deliver products and therapies in a cost-effective manner alongside conventional medicine," said Bensoussan. 

Award for Leadership in Research and Collaboration – Professor Marc Cohen RMIT University 

Professor Cohen has been acknowledged for his outstanding contribution to complementary medicine research over 25 years.  His sustained and effective leadership in promoting research and his passion for integrating complementary medicine into the mainstream has been vital to the success of the sector. He has reached outside of the complementary medicine field to engage with a wide network of collaborators. Professor Cohen's distinguished career includes work across a broad range of complementary therapies including acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, nutrition, energy medicine and wellness.  

Commendation for Leadership & Collaboration - Professor Basil Roufogalis, University of Sydney 

Professor Roufogalis is considered an international expert in herbal medicine research which he actively entered more than 11 years ago.  He has established effective networks with mainstream research scientists and the pharmaceutical industry in pursuing the herbal medicine research objectives, channelling his activities primarily through the Herbal Medicines Research and Education Centre, which he established in 1997. 

Award for Translational Research – Associate Professor Caroline Smith, University of Western Sydney 

Associate Professor Smith's translational research in the area of women's health and acupuncture has been acknowledged by the broader health community for its impact both in Australia and internationally. Her work has been published in a range of journals and she is currently a lead reviewer on five Cochrane systematic reviews.  

Award for an Emerging Researcher – Dr Tony Zhang RMIT University

Dr Zhang's research potential is evidenced by an impressive track record in complementary medicine field peer-reviewed scientific publications and his dedication to active involvement in complementary medicine academic community. He is currently working as a research fellow in the discipline of Chinese medicine. The Excellence in Research Awards will be conferred annually to build capacity, support innovation and highlight new and outstanding work.   

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Dimity Pinto on 0412 164 333,  

* NICM provides leadership and support for strategically directed research into complementary medicine and translation of evidence into clinical practice and relevant policy to benefit the health of all Australians.  The Institute was established in 2007 with federal and state government grants and is hosted by the University of Western Sydney.   

Research Excellence Awards Criteria Leadership in Research and Collaboration Award aim is to recognise the role and impact of outstanding leadership and the ability to build collaborations and networks across multiple sectors and interests (mainstream and complementary medicine research, industry, corporate, philanthropic, consumer) for the strategic development of complementary medicine. Translational Research Award aim is to recognise how efforts and progress in complementary medicine research contribute to improved health outcomes and /or the national research and innovation agenda. Emerging Researcher Award aim is to recognise outstanding post graduate researchers who personify the creativity and insight required to make constructive and positive impacts on the complementary medicine research sector.