A gold medal performance at the Sydney Olympics sparked Lauren Burns’ interest in complementary medicine; but it was a gift from the Jacka Foundation that transformed her questions about organic livin
“I was Australia’s first Olympic gold medal winner in taekwondo, a sport with roots in ancient Korean martial arts.
My experiences as an elite athlete leading up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics reinforced my lifelong passion for alternative medicine.
I was an athlete bucking the mainstream approach of the time – I was using a nutritionist and a naturopath, I was a vegetarian – they told me I couldn’t be a vegetarian and an elite athlete, but I saw powerful benefits from plant-based nutrition.
A few years ago, I started investigating doing my PhD at RMIT. A scholarship from the Jacka Foundation enabled me to move forward – it simply wouldn’t be possible without the scholarship.
I am researching the lifestyles of elite athletes, conducting a double blind trial looking at how eating organic food and reducing pesticides in the diet could affect elite athletic performance.
It’s just at the embryonic stages at the moment but I’m really excited about the possibilities. There is so much potential to learn more about what the effects of pesticides are on the body and very little research has been done in this area.
Hopefully this will also provide more information for consumers – people have a right to know what goes into our food and what affect it may have.
This research will absolutely be transformative if we can inspire more of our peers to research this area – and I hope we do.”
Supporting world-first research
The Jacka Foundation, established in memory and honour of Alf Jacka and recognising the commitment of Judy Jacka, supports research into natural therapies and is currently funding three scholarships at RMIT. Pauline McCabe, board member of the Foundation, describes the impact of their work.
“As a recipient of a scholarship myself, which allowed me to do a PhD, I can say without doubt that there are many positive effects - both during the scholarship period and later as a result of gaining a postgraduate qualification. Without that income support, many cannot contemplate postgraduate study.
Being awarded a Masters degree or PhD opens many doors in the areas of research and education. There can also be recognition as an expert if your research breaks new ground and you publish regularly. It is definitely life-transforming!
Philanthropy is particularly important for the field of complementary medicine. Our growing and passionate community of academics and researchers is transforming the profession.”