Advancing naturopathyDr Willa Huston

Pictured: ARCCIM centre director Professor John Adams

Landmark UTS naturopathy research and mentorship program supported by renowned industry pioneers

“Our program is a great opportunity to help ensure growth and rigour in naturopathy research” – ARCCIM centre director Professor John Adams.

The UTS Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrated Medicine (ARCCIM) conducts leading scientific research on health care and practices that complement conventional western medicine. It brings together internationally-renowned, multidisciplinary researchers and methodologists to work in partnership with practitioners and other stakeholders. The centre’s insights are essential for addressing contemporary health systems and global health challenges. 

ARCCIM established the International Naturopathy Research Leadership and Capacity Building Program in 2015 to nurture early-career researchers and advance the naturopathy field. It is designed by the centre’s director, Professor John Adams, with generous support from Australian industry pioneers the Jacka Foundation of Natural Therapies, The Blackmores Foundation and the Blackmores Institute.

Developing future leaders

Naturopathy’s holistic approach to health encompasses an individual’s psychological wellbeing, lifestyle and diet, in addition to the use of natural supplements and tactile therapies. Although naturopathy has evolved from its ancient roots to become a modern science and evidence-based practice, Professor Adams believes that growth is just beginning.

“While there are pockets of excellence in naturopathy research across the world, the field remains underdeveloped both in terms of networks and critical mass,” he says.

Drawing on Professor Adams’s expertise as Senior Fellow on an Oxford leadership program in the UK since 2010 and a successful UTS international complementary medicine leadership program in 2014, his program is designed to mentor future naturopathy leaders who will use established methods and perspectives across public health, health services research and clinical science to contribute invaluable evidence that informs patients, practitioners and policymakers.

Stimulating sessions

The program is run annually, whereby a group of fellows selected through competitive application are invited to attend UTS for sessions with guest speakers and senior ARCCIM academics over four days.

Topics covered include research skills training, networking, the art of getting published and cited, grant application writing for successful external competitive funding, and other research development and career advancement issues. Opportunities abound for fellows to hold their own sessions to support peers and foster collaboration on projects.

The program provides four nights’ accommodation and up to $2,000 for direct economy flights. Fellows will also continue to receive support after the visit in the form of on-line mentoring from senior ARCCIM researchers; and they will be required to submit a minimum of one peer-reviewed journal article a year in collaboration with at least one program fellow or associated academic.

A call for early-career researchers to participate in 2016 attracted an impressive 42 applications across a broad spectrum of fields from seven countries. 11 specialists qualified in naturopathic practice based in the US, Canada, South Africa, India and Australia were appointed to the program and attended the first UTS sessions in October that year.

There is so much potential to explore, as Professor Adams observes, “Our program is a great opportunity to help ensure growth and rigour in naturopathy research not just for now but with a view to establishing a sustainable high-quality research culture.”