Scholarships foster next generation of complementary medicine researchers

Blackmores scholarship signing ceremony

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Barney Glover and Blackmores CEO, Christine Holgate sign the agreement in the presence of Chancellor, Professor Peter Shergold, NICM Managing Director, Janice Besch, NICM Executive Director, Professor Alan Bensoussan and Blackmores Institute Director, Associate Professor Lesley Braun

Higher Degree Research students in the field of nutritional and herbal medicine are set to benefit from three new scholarships announced recently by the National Institute of Complementary Medicine at the University of Western Sydney.

The scholarships recognise the importance of bridging the knowledge gap in nutritional and herbal medicine, and building further the evidence-base to better inform and guide clinicians, health professionals and Australians.

Provided in partnership with the Blackmores Institute and valued at a total of over $400,000, the scholarships will support two PhD students over three years; and a Master of Research student over two years.

Professor Alan Bensoussan, from the National Institute of Complementary Medicine, says the scholarships play a vital role in supporting Australia's next generation of world-class researchers by focusing on laboratory, clinical and translational research areas.

"The scholarships are instrumental in building capacity and developing highly skilled researchers in the sector – the program will further strengthen Australia's leadership and competitiveness in complementary medicine research.

"The PhD students will undertake specific individual research projects which investigate complementary medicine treatments, while the Masters student will undertake research aimed at improving translation of evidence into better health outcomes for patients," says Professor Bensoussan.

With an estimated two in three Australians using complementary medicine every year and the sector expected to grow by over three per cent per annum over the next few years, Professor Bensoussan says there is an ethical and scientific need to conduct independent research into the potential benefits and risks of complementary medicine to improve public health and safety.

"Our Higher Degree Research is designed to enable students to focus on contemporary social issues and scientific problems at the highest level of originality and quality, uncovering new knowledge," says UWS Vice-Chancellor, Professor Barney Glover.

"It's a wonderful initiative, these scholarships can have such an impact on a young researcher's career; working in an ERA5* research concentration such as NICM with world-class supervision and mentors; having access to state of the art pre-clinical facilities; and collaborating with key hospitals and international researchers."

Director of Blackmores Institute, Associate Professor Lesley Braun says: "Providing opportunities for up and coming academics is an important way to develop our country's research capacity.

"We are immensely proud to support these scholarships in nutritional and herbal medicine as they will help to build the knowledge base and to position Australian researchers as leaders in this space.

"As industry leaders, we feel it is our responsibility to do so," says Associate Professor Braun.

About the Scholarships

The scholarships will be advertised with the aim of recruiting the highest quality domestic candidates on a competitive basis. Assessment and selection of the research projects and students will be carried out in accordance with UWS rules, regulations and policies. To be eligible students must be a full-time, Higher Degree Research student at UWS and not hold any existing scholarships or grant stipends. Further eligibility criteria and application information can be found online at Applications for the scholarships will close on Monday, 24 August 2015

About the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM)

The University of Western Sydney's National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) is Australia's leader in complementary medicine research and policy. Seed funded by the Commonwealth and State Governments, NICM plays a key national role in ensuring Australians have access to reliable evidence on complementary medicines and treatments in wide use. As an ERA 5 ranking institute, NICM is globally recognized for its world-class research and innovations in complementary medicine.

*About the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)

Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) is a national evaluation of research quality in Australian universities conducted by the Australian Government. It is administered by the Australian Research Council (ARC). The ERA initiative confirms that researchers at Australian universities compete with the world's best in a wide range of disciplines. ERA utilises a five-point rating scale. The rating scale is broadly consistent with the approach taken in research evaluation processes in other countries to allow for international comparison. ERA5 is the highest rating, characterised by evidence of outstanding performance well above world standard presented by the suite of indicators used for evaluation.

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