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Plenary Session 07: "Building an Integrative Medicine Research Environment" presented by: Alan Bensoussan, PhD

08:30 - 09:15, Regency Ballroom, Terrace Level

Alan Bensoussan, PhD

Director, National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), Australia 


Presentation Synopsis

All nations try to address the growing interest in complementary medicine (CM) and the demand for evidence to guide use.  Approaches used reflect the local political and social context.  Australia has a particular environment, which acknowledges its Asian context and, for example, is the first western nation to regulate Chinese medicine practitioners.  Our University also delivers practitioner qualifications in both medicine and traditional Chinese medicine.  However, there has been no strong or consistent Australian government investment in CM research and development, including through our principal national funding agency, the National Health and Medical Research Council, and Australia has a relatively poor history of philanthropy in contrast to the US and EU.  Inevitably, Australian CM research has relied greater on partnerships with industry. 


Overall, NICM has been built on a combination of smaller elements: seed funding from government, nationally competitive grants (competing against all health and medical research), philanthropy, direct University support, industry funded research and consultancy income.  Diversification of research income has been critical to our survival and growth.  Equally, NICM has adopted a comprehensive view of CM research engagement with industry and the community, including alignment of the broad research effort from bench to bedside.  NICM has had to remain flexible in how we collaborate to attract the funding to address key issues. 


NICM has established infrastructure to deliver:  
1.    Preclinical research - pharmacology and analytical chemistry, including certificates of analysis and stability testing as part of Good Manufacturing Practice.  
2.    Clinical trials – using our Standard Operating Procedures for CM. 
3.    Research translation and public policy – working closely with government, disease foundations, health insurers, industry and others.  



Dr. Alan Bensoussan is Director of the Australian National Institute of Complementary Medicine at the University of Western Sydney. He is a clinical researcher with a clinical practice background of over 25 years in Chinese medicine. Professor Bensoussan is Chair of the Advisory Committee for Complementary Medicines of the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and served on the National Medicines Policy Committee (2008-11). He also serves with the Singapore Health Sciences Authority Expert Panel for Herbal Medicines and has served frequently as a consultant in traditional medicine to the World Health Organisation. He has published two books including a review of acupuncture research (1990) and a major government report on the practice of traditional Chinese medicine in Australia (1996), which led to national regulation of Chinese medicine practitioners in Australia in 2012. Professor Bensoussan has forged a broad network of links with national and international organisations within government and industry, including major collaborative research projects with key institutions in China. Professor Bensoussan received the prestigious International Award for Contribution to Chinese Medicine in 2013, the only recipient based outside the People’s Republic of China.