New appointments bolster leadership at National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine

Published 11 June 2020
Matthew Leach (right) and Romy Lauche of National Centre for Naturopathic Centre Associate Professor Matthew Leach (right) with Associate Professor Romy Lauche.

Southern Cross University welcomes the appointments of four senior members to its National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine as the centre prepares to offer postgraduate courses from January 2021.

Headed by renowned public health expert Professor Jon Wardle, the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) welcomes internationally-recognised researchers Associate Professor Matthew Leach as Deputy Director, Education and Associate Professor Romy Lauche as Deputy Director, Research. Dr Janet Schloss is appointed Clinical Research Fellow and Renea Duignan is General Manager.

Professor Wardle said the wide array of knowledge these experts bring to the table gives NCNM a distinct edge.

“The University conducted an international search to identify academic researchers who are education and research leaders in health and medicine, not just in naturopathic education. With the critical and rigorous approach they bring, the NCNM is ideally placed to not just positively shift practice, research and communication as it relates to naturopathy, but to broaden healthcare as well,” said Professor Wardle.

Associate Professor Matthew Leach: Deputy Director, Education
A registered nurse and naturopath, Matthew Leach has earned an international reputation for his achievements in health services research. He has made a significant contribution to the field of health specifically through his research in evidence-based practice, integrative healthcare and rural health. Dr Leach is also highly accomplished in health workforce and services planning, as well as healthcare education. His expertise in these areas will be particularly valuable in developing a workforce capable of addressing the health care needs of the population, particularly for those living in regional areas.

“For many communities, health services are less than optimal. We are not about maintaining the status quo, but about extending the limits of what is possible. We are about fostering innovation and setting new benchmarks in health service delivery in order to improve community health and wellbeing,” said Dr Leach.

Associate Professor Romy Lauche: Deputy Director, Research
Romy Lauche recently arrived in Australia from her home country of Germany, where she oversaw the development of clinical research units in hospitals. With a background in psychology, her research interests are heavily influenced by her training in research methodology. Dr Lauche uses this expertise to apply a unique but rigorous approach to her research in naturopathic and complementary medicine, which also includes significant expertise in yoga, Tai Chi and manual therapies. Dr Lauche holds a firm belief that research should translate beyond the lab to take effect in policy and practice, which is a concept she will instil in the research strategy at NCNM.

“We’re not just doing research inside our ivory tower—it’s very important to us that the research we do at NCNM translates into improved clinical practice, and finding ways to do that will be a central part of our work,” said Dr Lauche.

Dr Janet Schloss: Clinical Research Fellow
Janet Schloss will be coordinating the clinical trials programs at NCNM. Dr Schloss is an accomplished researcher in clinical oncology and has completed a number of ground-breaking studies in chronic disease, children studies and trialling new complementary medicine drugs and supplements. She received widespread national media attention for her most recent trial on the effects of medicinal cannabis in brain cancer patients. In addition to her experience in managing clinical trials, Dr Schloss is also a clinical nutritionist and naturopath.

Renea Duignan: General Manager
The final team member in the leadership line-up is General Manager Renea Duignan, who brings to the role a wealth of management experience from the pharmaceutical, healthcare and higher education sectors. Before her most recent position as Learning and Development Advisor with Southern Cross University, Renea worked in human resources, recruitment and organisational development through senior roles with large global organisations.

National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine

The National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine is based at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus, which is also home to the Southern Cross Plant Science research centre. The University is a hub for natural therapies and allied healthcare, with the NCNM providing further opportunities for research and education in these areas.

Postgraduate courses at NCNM will commence in January 2021 with the Master of Advanced Naturopathic Medicine and two graduate certificates.

For more information about the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine and study options visit

Media contact: Caitlin Zillman, NCNM Marketing and Communications Manager 0424 632 177 or