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How did we get here?

In the late 1990s, Dr Alexander Tournier, then studying theoretical physics at Cambridge University, became intrigued by the interesting results coming from the field of homeopathy research, especially basic science experiments using infinitesimal doses and exploring previously unknown properties of water. Startling results were being reported, such as the ‘memory of water’ effect first brought to light by Professor Jacques Benveniste in the 1980’s.

Seeing the potential and importance of research in this relatively new field, but concerned by the lack of quality of the studies being carried out, Dr Tournier decided to create an organisation whose primary role would be to promote high quality research in homeopathy.

Thanks to early support from several established leaders in homeopathy research, such as Dr Peter Fisher, Dr Elizabeth Thompson, Dr Clare Relton and Prof Kate Thomas, plus invaluable help from many more individuals  along the way, HRI was able to lay the firm foundations needed to create a new Institute.

In 2010 Rachel Roberts joined HRI, bringing the benefits of over a decade working as a clinician and lecturer in homeopathy, combined with expertise in communicating the research evidence base and representing the UK homeopathic profession, gained during her years as Research Consultant for the Society of Homeopaths.

Together, Dr Alex Tournier and Rachel Roberts form the HRI Management Team. They are responsible for overseeing the activities of the HRI team and Scientific Advisory Committee, who make the Homeopathy Research Institute the thriving charity it is today.

Evolution of the Charity

2007-9

Laying the Foundations | Creating the HRI

The Homeopathy Research Institute was incorporated in 2007 and awarded charitable status by the Charities Commission in 2009. From these beginnings, the Institute has expanded both in terms of personnel and impact. Recruitment over recent years has strengthened the organisation by increasing the range of expertise within all departments, including the Board of Trustees, Scientific Advisory Committee and Staff.

2010

First Steps | HRI begins funding research

Through the generous support of our patrons, the Institute was able to begin funding our first research project ‘Physico-chemical properties of ultra-high dilutions’ by Dr Steven Cartwright.

2011

Going Public | HRI Launches at House of Commons Reception

On 17 May 2011, HRI hosted a reception at the House of Commons in London, attended by  over 150 guests including academics, scientists, peers and members of Parliament, as well as representatives from across the homeopathic industry and NHS healthcare providers. This unprecedented event, which attracted research experts from across Europe and the US, focused on placing homeopathy research on the national agenda as a valid and necessary scientific field of inquiry.

2012

Training researchers of the future | First HRI PhD Studentship awarded

In line with HRI’s Research Strategy and Priorities, our first PhD Studentship was  awarded to a researcher investigating the potential role of homeopathy for an ‘effectiveness gap condition’ i.e. a medical condition for which existing conventional treatment options fail to achieve satisfactory results for patients. In this case HRI awarded the studentship to Philippa Fibert at the University of Sheffield, to fund a randomised controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of homeopathy for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), expected to reach completion in 2016.

2013

Strengthening the scientific community | Inaugural HRI Conference

HRI’s 1st International Research Conference, ‘Cutting Edge Research in Homeopathy’, took place in Barcelona in May-June 2013. With a programme dedicated solely to high-end, robust scientific research, Barcelona 2013 was the first gathering of its kind in a decade. The best homeopathy researchers in the world were brought together under one roof to share their latest findings and create new international collaborations.

2014

Providing a world-class resource | Launch of the new HRI website

Building upon the Institute’s successful work in previous years, 2014 saw the relaunch of our website. The objective of the redesign was to make the most cutting-edge research in homeopathy instantly available and as accessible, providing only the most reliable current information.

A major addition to the new site was the world class CORE-Hom database, which presents the entire collection of published peer reviewed clinical research on homeopathy free of charge. This tool was the result of a 3-year project in collaboration with the highly renowned Karl und Veronica Carstens Foundation in Germany.

Generating new high quality research | First HRI-funded project results published

HRI’s clinical research strategy targets effectiveness-gap conditions. This was reflected in the first HRI-funded research project to generate new findings – a pilot study into the homeopathic treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The article, ‘Interim results of a randomised controlled trial of homeopathic treatment for irritable bowel syndrome was the first of our ongoing output of HRI peer reviewed publications.

2015

Homeopathy Research of the Highest Calibre | 2nd HRI Conference in Rome

The 2nd HRI Research conference in Rome once again gathered the best researchers in the world, from a range of subfields of homeopathy research. 250 delegates attended from 39 countries to hear presentations by speakers from 17 countries, making this a truly international event.

Discussions of new findings captured the ‘cutting edge’ theme of the conference, from developments in fundamental research investigating the mechanism of action of homeopathic medicines, to cross-disciplinary topics such as the growing evidence that homeopathic remedies can modulate gene expression and can exert a ‘field effect’.

Generating new high quality research | First HRI-funded fundamental research results published

The first major HRI research project – Interaction of homeopathic potencies with the water soluble solvatochromic dye bis-dimethylaminofuchsone, by Dr Steven Cartwright – reached publication in 2015.

The results found that solvatochromic dyes detect the presence of homeopathic potencies, providing a springboard for lines of research that will provide much greater insight into the nature of homeopathic medicines and how they work.

2016

Challenging misreporting | HRI co-authors challenge to NHMRC report

In August 2016 HRI’s in-depth scientific analysis was used as part of a submission of complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman brought by Complementary Medicines Australia, Australian Homoeopathic Association and Australian Traditional Medicine Society, regarding the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) information Paper on homeopathy, referred to as ‘the Australian Report‘, which concluded that “…there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective”.

This report triggered headlines around the world suggesting NHMRC had found that homeopathy doesn’t work for any condition. HRI revealed evidence of serious procedural and scientific misconduct and the case remains with the Ombudsman.

Reaching a wider audience | Translation of HRI’s Homeopathy FAQs

In 2016, we launched our Frequently Asked Questions webpages, which take the most commonly repeated statements about homeopathy and give clear evidence-based answers, in four new languages as a result of requests from around the world and thanks to financial support from ECHAMP.

The launch of the multilingual FAQs was a significant step for homeopathy generally, bringing accurate information (and debunking of misinformation) to a much wider audience.

2017

Leading the way in homeopathy research | 3rd HRI Conference in Malta

 The 3rd HRI Conference in Malta was attended by 200 delegates from 25 countries, coming together to hear presentations by researchers from 19 countries. The calibre of the 36 oral presentations and 37 posters was of an extremely high standard, as was to be expected based on the initial selection process.

Malta provided a stunning backdrop for what has now become a leading event in the homeopathic calendar.

…and beyond…

Following another successful conference, the HRI team are hard at work expanding on research projects and improving the accessibility of high quality information on homeopathy. Keep an eye on the HRI website for the latest developments and projects.

“HRI is essential to the future of homeopathy research both in the UK and worldwide. It is wonderful to see the Institute thriving.”

Dr Elizabeth Thompson – Lead Clinician and Academic Director,
Bristol Homeopathic Hospital

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Dr Clare Relton – creation of HRI as a unique organisation its field

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