The NHMRC Natural Therapies Working Committee is overseeing evidence evaluations on the clinical effectiveness of 16 natural therapies excluded from private health insurance rebates from 1 April 2019. 

The evidence evaluations are being prepared for the Department of Health for the Natural Therapies Review 2019-20.   

The Natural Therapies Working Committee was established under section 39 of the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 (NHMRC Act).

Previous - 2019-20 Terms of Reference and Membership.

Current - 2020-21 Terms of Reference 
 

Contact:

Natural Therapies Review Team

National Health and Medical Research Council
GPO Box 1421
Canberra ACT 2601
Email address: complementarymedicine@nhmrc.gov.au

Member information and Disclosure of Interests

Committee members are required to disclose their interests on an ongoing basis, in line with NHMRC’s Policy on the Disclosure of Interests Requirements for Prospective and Appointed NHMRC Committee Members . Members are asked to identify, to the best of their ability, interests related to the work of the committee, including:

  • Professional affiliations 
  • Research Funding 
  • Institutional affiliations 
  • Publications and presentations 
  • Relationships 
  • Other financial interests
  • Other non-financial interests
  • Social or other interests 

A summary of each members’ declared interests is provided below. Throughout the project members are required to inform NHMRC of any changes to their interests, and management strategies are put in place as needed.
 

Chair,
Professor
Adele
Green

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

Professor Green is an international leader in the epidemiology of melanoma and skin cancer. Her ground-breaking randomised controlled trial of long-term sunscreen application in an Australian community provides the scientific basis for clinical and public health advice about sunscreen use for skin cancer prevention. Other significant contributions include insight into risk factors for ovarian cancer and into the burden of cancer in Indigenous Australians. Professor Green has received international awards and is a recognised advocate for cancer control, including through longstanding membership on national and international scientific and advisory councils. She has trained and mentored a generation of epidemiologists and clinician-scientists. She chaired the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Testing Expert Advisory Group and is an Honorary Senior Scientist at QIMR Berghofer.

Declaration

No related interests

Professor
Catherine
Bennett

Deakin University, VIC 

Professor Bennett has a distinguished career in public health practice, research, academic governance and teaching. She joined Deakin University in 2009 after more than eight years with the University of Melbourne as Associate Professor in Epidemiology, Deputy Chair of the Academic Programs Committee in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and Director of Population Health Practice in the Melbourne School of Population Health. Prior to that, Professor Bennett worked with the New South Wales and Victorian State Governments in a variety of senior positions, including Olympic Public Health Coordinator for Northern Sydney. She was also founding Chair and President of the Council of Academic Public Health Institutions (CAPHIA) 
 

Declaration

•    Participate in clinical Pilates classes in my own time

Professor
Alan
Bensoussan

Western Sydney University, NSW 

Professor Bensoussan is one of Australia’s prominent integrative medicine researchers with a focus on Chinese medicine spanning 30 years. He was Chair of the Advisory Committee for Complementary Medicines of the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (2011-14) following ten years prior Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration committee service, and served on the National Medicines Policy Committee (2008-11). Professor Bensoussan has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization, the Singapore Health Sciences Authority Expert Panel for Herbal Medicines, on four international journal editorial boards and is an invited grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
 

Declaration

  • Background in integrative medicine research with a focus on Chinese medicine spanning 30 years. Foundation Director of NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University from 2008 to Oct 2020. Continues to work in a fractional appointment at NICM. As a health and medical research institute, NICM receives research grants and donations from foundations, universities, government agencies, individuals and industry. Sponsors and donors provide untied funding for work to advance the vision and mission of the Institute, the details of which are publicly available.  As part of NICM Health Research Institute role involved in the conduct and higher degree supervision of research in traditional, complementary and integrative medicine, including herbal and nutritional medicine, yoga and tai chi. This includes publications and peer review of original research papers and review articles, along with ad hoc grant reviews. Provides independent research advice for industry.
  • NICM Health Research Institute has been commissioned to draft efficacy monographs on Vitamins B6 and B12 (Nov 2019).
  • Qi Huang International Award for achievement in Chinese Medicine, Beijing Nov 14, 2019.
  • Member of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association.
  • Western Sydney University has an Australia-China Institute for Arts and Culture. I have no research, administrative or other role with the Institute.
  • As part of  work with NICM Health Research Institute attended an industry research meeting China (Nov 2019) that was paid for by the industry partner.
  • Volunteer peer reviewer.
     

Professor
Rachelle
Buchbinder
AO

Monash University and Cabrini Institute, VIC

Professor Buchbinder is an Australian NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow. She has been the Director of the Monash Department of Clinical Epidemiology since its inception in 2001 and a Professor in the Monash University Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine since 2007. She is a rheumatologist and clinical epidemiologist who combines clinical practice with research in a wide range of multidisciplinary projects relating to arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions. Other roles include Coordinating Editor of Cochrane Musculoskeletal and Back and Neck, founding member and Chair Executive Committee, NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence for the Australia and New Zealand Musculoskeletal (ANZMUSC) Clinical Trials Network and she also chairs the Australian Living National Guidelines for Inflammatory arthritis. She was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to epidemiology and rheumatology in 2020. She has been recognised as a Highly Cited Researcher since 2018.

Declaration

  • Coordinating Editor of Cochrane Musculoskeletal and Cochrane Back and Neck. Both Cochrane groups have published reviews on topics related to some of the natural therapies within scope of the Natural Therapies Review.
  • Member, Low Back Pain Clinical Care Standard Topic Working Group, for the Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Health Care 2020-. Natural therapies may be considered.
  • Member, Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) since 2016.
  • Member, National Prescribing Service (NPS) MedicineWise Clinical Intervention Advisory Group since 2018.
  • Member, Clinical Working Group for the RACGP guidelines for the non-surgical management of hip and knee osteoarthritis 2018. The RACGP Guidelines included recommendations about tai chi and yoga, and some nutritional supplements.
  • Published papers that discuss guidelines for use of some of the natural therapies included in the Natural Therapies Review.
  • Chief Investigator for the following NHMRC grants:
    • Project Grant (2012) ‘Autologous platelet-rich plasma or glucocorticoid injection for tennis elbow
    • Project Grant (2013) ‘A Clinical Trial of Anticoagulation in Scleroderma Heart-Lung Disease’
    • Centres of Research Excellence (2014) ‘Centre of Research Excellence in Translation of Research into Improved OUtcomes in Musculoskeletal Pain & Health (CRE TRIUMPH)’
    • Research Fellowships (2014) ‘Improving translation of evidence into practice for musculoskeletal conditions’
    • Project Grant (2015) ‘CROSSFIRE: Combined Randomised and Observational Study of Surgery for Fractures In the distal Radius in the Elderly’
    • Project Grant (2015) ‘Hype or Hope? platelet-Rich plasma as a symptom- and disEaSe-modifying Treatment fOR knee ostEoarthritis - the RESTORE trial’
    • Programs (2015) ‘Using healthcare wisely: reducing inappropriate use of tests and treatments’
    • Centres of Research Excellence (2017) ‘Australia & New Zealand Musculoskeletal (ANZMUSC) Clinical Trials Network’
    • Partnerships (2017) ‘Partnership Centre: Health System Sustainability’
    • Centres of Research Excellence (2019) ‘Low Back Pain Centre for Research Excellence’
    • Ivestigator Grant (2020) ‘Better evidence more rapidly implemented to optimise health for people with musculoskeletal conditions’
       

Professor
Susan
Hillier

Professor Hillier is an academic and clinician with teaching and research interests in the broad field of neuroscience and rehabilitation. One of her main research areas is on the effectiveness of rehabilitation approaches after stroke - this includes the role of afferent stimulation or training using multimodal feedback, as well as models of rehabilitation and access to rehabilitation. The influence of rehabilitation on neuroplasticity is also a focus. She also has an interest in movement education and intervention approaches for other populations such as children with developmental coordination disorder or people who are ageing. As well as conducting clinical trials to produce primary evidence, Professor Hillier is an experienced Cochrane reviewer (vestibular rehabilitation, HIV, self-management after stroke, task-specific training) and has published many systematic reviews for comparative effectiveness trials as well as clinical measurement. Professor Hillier maintains a small private practice at the University and contributes to the community through her work with stroke organisations locally and nationally. She teaches regularly in Australia and internationally to assist clinicians to implement best practice. She has supervised 21 candidates to completion in PhD programs in Australia and overseas. Her current role at the University of South Australia is Dean: Research for UniSA: Allied Health and Human Performance. She is also a member of the Australian Feldenkrais Guild inc.

Declaration

  • Affiliated with the Australian Feldenkrais Guild Inc (member) 
  • Published in the area - RCTs and systematic reviews of Feldenkrais and yoga as motor learning/rehabilitation approaches.
  • Run a small number of physiotherapy sessions for clients. My physiotherapy practice incorporates the Feldenkrais Method
  • Chief Investigator for a 2016 NHMRC Partnership grant 'A network of sites and ‘up-skilled’ therapists to deliver best practice stroke rehabilitation of the upper limb’.
     

Associate Professor
Philippa
Middleton

South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, SA

Associate Professor Middleton holds an NHMRC fellowship and is an affiliate with the Robinson Research Institute at the University of Adelaide. She is a perinatal epidemiologist and implementation scientist with particular research interests in preterm birth, nutrition, stillbirth and diabetes in pregnancy. Her ‘tools of trade’ are randomised controlled trials, systematic reviews, research synthesis (quantitative and qualitative), guidelines, research reporting standards and translating research evidence into policy and practice. Since 2005, she has held continuous national and international research funding in perinatal health and in research methodologies, totalling >$9M in the last 5 years. In addition to her NHMRC Fellowship, she is or has been a CI on seven NHMRC project grants, as well as attracting funding from other local and international bodies. Professor Middleton is involved in several Aboriginal health partnerships and works with the Cochrane Collaboration in multiple roles, including being an editor with Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group and leading their Australian and New Zealand satellite. She is also an academic editor with PLoSMED, a member of the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand’s policy, stillbirth and IMPACT committees, the NHMRC Synthesis and Translation of Research Evidence Committee and the Expert Advisory Committee for NHMRC’s antenatal care guidelines. She has published widely and has over 250 publications.

Declaration

  • Member/past member of Guideline Development Committees e.g. National Pregnancy Guidelines Active in the Cochrane Collaboration (e.g. editor for Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth)
  • Pregnancy Care co-lead, SAHMRI Women and Kids
  • Recipient of the following funding to conduct research related to complementary medicine (largely nutrition) • NHMRC Investigator grant (2020) CIA • Centre of Research Excellence Grant x 2: CICx2
  • Methodologist - Pregnancy Care guidelines
  • Relevant Publications (last five years):
    • Wilson, N. A., Mantzioris, E., Middleton, P. F., Muhlhausler, B. S. Influence of clinical characteristics on maternal DHA and other polyunsaturated fatty acid status in pregnancy: - A systematic review:.
    • Wilson, N. A., Mantzioris, E., Middleton P. F, Muhlhausler, B. S. Influence of sociodemographic, lifestyle and genetic characteristics on maternal DHA and other polyunsaturated fatty acid status in pregnancy: A systematic review. PLEFA 2020
    • Simmonds, L. A., Sullivan, T. R., Skubisz, M. Middleton P. F. et al, Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in pregnancy—baseline omega-3 status and early preterm birth: exploratory analysis of a randomised controlled trial
    • Wilson, N. A., Mantzioris, E., Middleton, P. F., Muhlhausler, B. S. Gestational age and maternal status of DHA and other polyunsaturated fatty acids in pregnancy: A systematic review. PLEFA 2019
    • De Seymour, J. V., Simmonds, L. A., Gould, J., Makrides, M, Middleton P. Omega-3 fatty acids to prevent preterm birth: Australian pregnant women's preterm birth awareness and intentions to increase omega-3 fatty acid intake
    • Middleton P, Gomersall J. C., Gould, J. F., Shepherd, E., Olsen, S. F., Makrides, M. Omega-3 fatty acid addition during pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018.
    • Homer, C. S., Oats, J, Middeton P et al. Updated clinical practice guidelines on pregnancy care. MJA 2018.
  • Currently an editor for the Cochrane Collaboration Pregnancy and Childbirth group. Pregnancy and Childbirth have published several systematic reviews that evaluate the effectiveness of natural therapies.
     

Professor
Stephen
Myers

Southern Cross University, NSW 

Professor Myers is a member of the Complementary Medicine Evaluation Committee of the Commonwealth Government, a statutory expert advisory committee to the Office of Complementary Medicines of Therapeutic Goods Administration of the Australian Government Department of Health. He has acted as consultant to industry, government and educational institutions on a broad range of issues involving natural medicine. He is a co-author of Government reviews on the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Australia (1996) and on Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine (2005).
 

Declaration

  • Holds academic positions as a Professor in Naturopathic, Complementary and Integrative Medicine at Southern Cross University and Western Sydney University. Undertakes clinical, laboratory and epidemiological research for the complementary medicine industry researching the pharmacology of complementary medicines. Over the past three decades has worked with a wide range of industry sponsors both in Australia and internationally.
  • Sits on the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of Pharmalink International. This company produces products from New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels. I receive a stipend for this activity.
  • Named inventor on a patent filed by Pharmalink International in December 2019 which will provide a small royalty once the product named in the patent is on the market.

Dr
Kylie
Porritt

JBI, University of Adelaide, SA

Dr Porritt is a Senior Research Fellow for the Implementation Science program of JBI. She is an active contributor to the field of evidence based health care. In her current role she is the Program Manager of the Implementation Science team, Academic lead for the Cardiovascular Care specialty and the Emergency and Trauma specialty and chair of the Implementation Science Methods Group. She is an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Nursing Practice and the JBI Databases for Systematic Review and Implementation Reports as well as an active, contributing member to various methodology and evidence based practice committees.  Dr Porritt is an experienced, published researcher having been involved in the conduct of multiple systematic reviews and various health related research projects. She has a particular interest in developing methodology for the synthesis of qualitative evidence.
 

Declaration

  • Senior Research Fellow, Joanna Briggs Institute, Implementation Science, University of Adelaide
  • Publications related to evidence synthesis of complementary therapies
  • Associate Editor, JBI Database Systematic Reviews and Implementation Report, International Journal of Nursing Practice - Core staff member, JBI Adelaide GRADE Center and member of GRADE working parties. - Member of Cochrane Nursing Care Field, APHRA Australia, Health, Joanna Briggs Institute Scientific Committee, Joanna Briggs Institute Qualitative Methods Group - Chair, Implementation Science Methods Group, Joanna Briggs Institute - Supervisor to post-graduate higher degree students at the University of Adelaide - Involved in the conduct and publication of multiple systematic reviews undertaken using various methodologies with a particular interest in developing the methodology for the synthesis of qualitative evidence.
     

Professor
Jerome
Sarris

Western Sydney University, NSW

Jerome Sarris is Professor of Integrative Mental Health at the NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University in Westmead. He holds an NHMRC Clinical Research Fellowship, in addition to an honorary position at the University of Melbourne, Department of Psychiatry as a Principal Research Fellow. Professor Sarris moved from clinical practice as a Naturopath, Nutritionist, and Acupuncturist to academic work, and completed a doctorate at the field of psychiatry. He has a particular interest in anxiety and mood disorder research pertaining to integrative medicine, nutraceutical psychopharmacology and psychotropic plant medicines, and lifestyle medicine. His research also utilises genomic technology to examine the pharmacogenomics of individual responses to nutraceuticals in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Professor Sarris has over 190 publications and has published in various eminent psychiatry journals including The American Journal of Psychiatry, Lancet Psychiatry, JAMA Psychiatry, and World Psychiatry. He has conducted many RCTs in the field, including 3 recent multicentre NHMRC Project Grants as CIA. Professor Sarris was a founding Vice Chair of The International Network of Integrative Mental Health & is an Executive Committee Member of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatric Research. He currently leads the LIFEMend Neuropsychiatry Clinical Trials Network, in addition to chairing the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry: Integrative- Nutraceuticals/Phytoceuticals Clinical Guidelines Taskforce.                

Declaration

  • General travel support for two companies in 2018 (Sanofi-Aventis to discuss potential insomnia treatments) and 2019 (Fiji Kava to discuss kava and its potential use for anxiety) for intellectual contributions to company meetings
  • A range of standard academic consultancy work was provided to Scius Health (2017), Key Pharmaceuticals (2017), Fiji Kava (208-2020), HealthMasters (2019), Kantar Consulting (2019), Grunbiotics (2019), Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (2019-2020), Research Reviews (2019), and SPRIM (2019). This was for either independent academic advice, presentations, or preparing documents such as literature reviews. The specific areas of interest focused on nutraceuticals (nutrient-based medicines) or plant-based medicines or integrative/lifestyle approaches for the potential treatment of a range of psychiatric disorders
  • J.Sarris has received book royalties from Elsevier during 2017-2020 for a book within the integrative medicine field
  • J.Sarris' institution/s have received clinical trial grants studying nutrients or plant-based medicines, or minor funding to provide independent academic support to a range of industry partners: Integria Healthcare & MediHerb (2018-2019) Fiji Kava (2019-2020), FIT-BioCeuticals (2017-2019), Blackmores (2017-2020). Funding has also been received from the NHMRC to conduct 3 integrative medicine field clinical trials as Chief Investigator A (2017-2020)
  • In the past three years, Prof. Sarris has published over 50 academic papers, chapters, and books within the integrative and complementary medicine field.
  • Chief Investigator for the following NHMRC grants:
    • Project Grant (2012) ‘Nutraceuticals in the Treatment of Depression’
    • Project Grant (2013) ‘Kava for the Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder’
    • Project Grant (2013) ‘N-acetyl cysteine in the adjunctive treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder: A 16-week, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study’
    • Career Development Fellowship (2016) ‘Nutraceuticals and Lifestyle Modification for Mood and Anxiety Disorders’
       

Professor
Jon
Wardle

Southern Cross University, NSW  

Professor Wardle is Professor of Public Health Foundation Director of the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine at Southern Cross University. Professor Wardle holds visiting positions at the University of Oxford, University of Washington, and Boston University. He is also convenor of the Public Health Association of Australia's Research Advisory Group, which promotes and advocates for public health research and development on complementary medicine issues. He has clinical backgrounds in naturopathy and nursing and postgraduate training in public health and law. Professor Wardle has worked on complementary medicine and primary healthcare policy in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, Latin America and India, and holds editorial positions on a number of journals, including editor-in-chief of Advances in Integrative Medicine.

Declaration

  • I have a clinical background which includes naturopathic medicine and have practised and conducted research into several of the therapies listed as being under review in this Committee
  • Royalties for publication of textbook
  • I have been engaged on multiple paid consultancies related to natural therapies. These include consultancies for the World Health Organization and Pan-American Health Organization, Therapeutic Goods Administration, Queensland Office of the Health Ombudsman, New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission, New South Wales Health Professional Councils Authority and I have served as an expert witness in cases involving complementary medicine
  • I have received travel and/or accommodation support to participate and deliver presentations at the International Congress on Complementary Medicine Research, the International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health, the International Conference on the Science of Botanicals and other academic conferences not focusing on complementary medicines where I've spoken about complementary medicines
  • I have directly or indirectly (as part of a team) received multiple grants related to complementary medicine research, some of which have come from entities involved with complementary medicine, including the Blackmore Foundation, the Association of Massage Therapists, the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, the Jacka Foundation, Integria Health Care and Artemis Pharmaceuticals. These grants have been related to research costs and the institutions have had no role in design, implementation or analysis of research
  • I am employed by Southern Cross University as Professor of Public Health and Director of the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine. I also have a role as head of the regulatory, policy and legislative stream at the Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine at the University of Technology Sydney.
  • I serve in an unpaid capacity on the executives of numerous organisations that have a relationship with complementary medicine. These include as the convenor for the Evidence, Research and Practice in Complementary Medicine Special Interest Group of the Public Health Association of Australia and Secretary General of the World Naturopathic Federation. I serve on the editorial board for 5 peer-reviewed journals focused on complementary medicine, including as Editor-in-Chief for Advances in Integrative Medicine
     

Associate Professor
Tony
Zhang

RMIT University Melbourne, VIC
 
Associate Professor Zhang's expertise includes acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine clinical trials, Systematic review/meta-analysis and health research methodologies. He has published more than 150 peer-review articles and co-authored more than 20 evidence-based clinical Chinese medicine monographs. He had served as a consultant to the World Health Organization Western Pacific Office and, has regularly reviewed research grants for the Hong Kong Health and Medical Research Fund since 2014. Associate Professor Zhang is a visiting professor to The Education University of Hong Kong and has been an editorial board member of six peer-review journals including the American Journal of Chinese Medicine and BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Declaration

  • Leader (Feb 2011 ~ present) of Chinese Medicine in the School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University. He teaches evidence-based healthcare practice to undergraduate and postgraduate students and supervises MPhi and PhD students in the filed of evidence-based complementary medicine.
  •  Deputy Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Traditional Medicine (RMIT); Co-Deputy Director, China-Australia International Research Centre for Chinese Medicine (RMIT); Director, Chinese Medicine Confucius Institute, RMIT University Former Company Secretary, Australian Research Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (ARCCAM) Ltd; Standing Director, International Chinese Medicine Clinical Standards Working Committee, World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies.
  • Research grant support to conduct academic research since 2005 including Chief investigator on NHMRC grant (#616609) and National Institute of Complementary Medicine Research Grant: The effect of a standardised ginseng extract in patients with moderate COPD.
  • Numerous publications on complementary medicine, systematic review, clinical trials, epidemiology, public health and evidence-based healthcare practice including co-author of evidence-based clinical Chinese medicine monograph series (29 volumes, 11 published, 18 pending).
  • Consultant (2018), World Health Organisation Western Pacific Regional Office; Grant Review Referee Panel, Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF), Hong Kong; Editorial Board Member of 6 peer-review journals (voluntary work) including the American Journal of Chinese Medicine and BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
  • Received travel and/or accommodation support to participate and deliver speeches at the Global University Network of Traditional Medicine Conferences. 
     

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