Message from the Director

In ten years NICM has grown substantially and promises to expand further through the University's investment in the Westmead campus adjacent to the medical precinct - NICM's new home from 2018 in a beautiful heritage building. Westmead is an ideal location for Australia's lead institute in integrative medicine research.  It is one of the largest highly specialised health, research and education precincts in the world, in addition to boasting the largest concentration of biomedical, scientific and healthcare focussed minds in the nation. The integration of NICM into the University's Westmead campus, will strengthen and expand the health, research and education offerings of Westmead - a health and education super precinct and an innovation district critical to the economic and social prosperity of Australia.

The University's support and vision for NICM has been and will continue to be strong. In helping us to achieve our vision, we had the pleasure of announcing in April the largest gift received to date by Western Sydney University - a combined $10 million from Marcus and Caroline Blackmore's personal philanthropic trust and Blackmores Limited – representing a commitment of $5 million each. This unencumbered gift will directly support the next generation of world-class researchers through scholarships and fellowships, helping to attract Australia's brightest young scientists and innovators. Highly skilled researchers are critical to capacity building – they contribute to the evidence base and promote best practice in integrative medicine.

Unencumbered gifts such as these support the Federal Government agenda to improve university-industry collaboration to promote research and build upon Australia's Global Innovation Strategy(opens in a new window). This $10 million gift will enable NICM to conduct work that contributes to the wider output of the region and which helps to strengthen our global reputation. As our successes grow, we hope to attract further philanthropic support and achieve greater research collaborations internationally with universities and hospitals. We are currently in discussion on several promising developments in China.

The rapidly expanding research landscape and expectations for innovative research in integrative medicine are significant. We cannot do the work alone nor rely entirely on government funding, as evident in the recent Federal Government's Budget 2017-18. I would like to take a moment to give thanks to all our other donors, past and present, including our major donors such as the Jacka Foundation, Catalent, SOHO-Flordis International, Jenny Chou, Tony Maxwell, Gary and Josephine Lam, Purapharm and others. We are extremely appreciative of their ongoing support for high-quality research.

In other exciting news, we have welcomed our new NICM Deputy Director, Professor Jerome Sarris who commenced in January, as you will read in the May edition of our Newsletter. Earlier in the year NICM's Managing Director, Janice Besch accepted the prestigious Director role with the NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research. We thank Janice for her exceptional contributions over the last three and a half years and wish her outstanding success in her new role.

As we reflect on the year ahead, and the exciting and changing times for NICM, it is with deep sadness and respect that I share with you the passing of two prominent integrative medicine colleagues, Professor George Lewith(opens in a new window) and Dr Fredi Kronenberg(opens in a new window). As so many colleagues and friends of George and Fredi have demonstrated through countless emails, both were truly very special people. George and Fredi were precious friends to many and a sane anchor in the complex world of integrative medicine. George was an international champion in establishing the evidence base for complementary medicine. His legacy is that his work has influenced what we do and how we do it, and his research and interactions will have touched and improved the lives of many and likewise for Fredi, as a pioneer in the area of botanical research in women's health. The entire staff of NICM send profound and heartfelt condolences to their respective family, friends and collaborators.

Professor Alan Bensoussan

22 May 2017