The Insurance Made Easy Young Achiever of the Year accolade is a brand-new award that applauds young individuals in our industry. This award recognises the importance of ensuring that we acknowledge and celebrate exceptional people for today and our future.
Huge congratulations to the inaugural winner, Managing Director of BioConcepts, Dr Michael Osiecki PhD, BE (Chemical), BBiotech (Hons). He received his doctorate for research in biological engineering, specialising in the isolation and expansion of stem cells in bioreactor systems in 2016 from QUT.
Dr Michael Osiecki wins the inaugural Insurance Made Easy Young Achiever of the Year award.
Passionate about driving education and awareness around the science of supplements, Michael is also a CMA Board Director and Chairs the Export and Industry Development Committee.
Dr Michael's scientific prowess and passion for the industry has put him at the forefront of education in nutritional medicine. He draws insights from the latest relevant research in complementary medicine, applying these to the clinic and beyond. His diverse background gives him a unique perspective allowing him an innovative approach.
"Some of my research experience includes mesenchymal stromal cell differentiation, tissue regeneration, wound healing, hematopoietic stem cell niche, redox signalling and behaviour of antioxidants such as ascorbic acid," says Michael.
Asked what inspired him to focus on natural therapies, Michael says that the industry has heavily influenced my life.
"My father, Henry Osiecki, has impacted the nutritional landscape of Australia through founding several businesses, having a clinical practice, and being so passionate about the education of practitioners. So, I have lived and breathed this industry all my life. The philosophy of complementary medicine and other aspects of the business, such as manufacturing, just fitted naturally," says Michael.
Michael completed a national and international education series on the role of nutritional medicines in managing addictions. "Mental health is a big problem, and practitioners see an increasing number of patients coming to them looking for solutions. There has been a lot of education around many aspects of mental health, and BioConcepts has a leader in educating practitioners on nutrition in the treatment of mental health conditions."
However, Michael understands that a significant gap in clinicians' understanding of addictions and few options for their treatment remain.
"I was able to talk to psychiatric facilities about our more traditional market of practitioners around the importance of nutritional medicine in supporting recovery and preventing relapse. I was also able to draw attention to the co-morbid conditions of patients with substance abuse that we have been ignoring and the importance of treating these to prevent disease later on in these patients. Sharing knowledge was a great experience, as was months and years later, hearing how this education had changed their patients' lives. It has given me further confidence in these treatments, not just believing that they work from understanding the clinical literature. Still, the conviction of knowing that these treatments work," Michael says.
A+B can result in C, D, E or A
"I was always drawn to complex systems; my formal education has been a journey in understanding this. For example, chemical engineering is defined by thermodynamics and chemical kinetics with pure substances or well-defined systems. In these systems, A+B goes to C. However, in biology and biological engineering, A+B can go to C, D, E or A depending on multiple factors, some of which are still yet to be discovered," says Michael.
Drugs are designed to work on a specific protein, enzyme or receptor with a few side reactions. A relatively simple response explains Michael. But a vitamin or herb works on hundreds of enzymes, proteins or receptor pathways that are dosage and co factor-dependent.
"These powerful interventions can be easily misunderstood unless you have been educated in and have an understanding of how these nutrients and herbs work from a biochemical, cellular level to the whole body. I enjoy focusing on natural therapies, as understanding the science behind these treatments embraces the complex nature of biology and also treats people as an individual rather than a population," Michael says.
Two career highlights stand out for Michael. One demonstrates his business and leadership skills, and the other surrounds his drive for science education.
Michael says: "Over the last three years, BioConcepts has enjoyed significant growth, and a massive culture change facilitated this, thriving during the COVID period. We deliver exciting new products and provide practitioners with industry-leading education; we provide products and education on the patient conditions they see by really understanding practitioners' needs.
Even in a time when it might be easy to be conservative due to uncertainty, we decided to push through with our strategic plan, fortified by confidence in our ability to deliver innovative products and educate practitioners around these."
Michael and his team knew that patients would still need to consult with their practitioners for mental health, gut and other issues and still require solutions. The group recognised how the supply chain would be disrupted in the pandemic and focused on their top-selling and immunity products expecting demand to increase. No more than three products were out of stock long-term throughout the pandemic.
The company had introduced flexible work arrangements back in 2019, so the company was ready for staff to work from home.
"We made the office an environment people wanted to be in when we could go back to work post lockdowns. Giving people the flexibility in how they worked and empowering them to take responsibility and use their creativity to deliver new products, educational materials, and marketing campaigns contributed to the financial growth the business is experiencing," says Michael.
"I think it's the most exciting time to be in this industry. We are on the precipice of massive change in medical science and public health. Look at the number of publications and clinical trials in complementary medicine, thanks to help from the industry as standard funding bodies don't bother to fund such research.
The COVID pandemic has meant that the public, scientists and medical doctors are looking at natural medicines as adjuncts for the population. They realise that these can help improve immunity and even improve outcomes for hospitalised patients. I see a significant change of tone in major medical journals on how they talk about vitamin or herbal interventions for this current health crisis. It is vital to understand that complementary medicines are essential adjuncts to treatment, to reducing side effects or simply rectifying critical nutrient deficiencies can be seen in certain diseases," Michael says.
Michael believes that we are now experiencing a generational change as people in his age group take more senior roles in different parts of the health industry.
"We have gone from doctors with no interest to learning about complementary medicines claiming that there is "no evidence and it's all snake oil", to many who are now interested in investigating and researching the use of vitamins, nutrients and herbs," he says.
"Younger people want to use these treatments and be educated on how to use them so they better and more confidently use supplements and lifestyle interventions. Younger people want to work with complementary medicine practitioners as they don't know it all or have the time to fully support the patient to implement lifestyle and supplemental interventions fully.
The new era is exciting; younger doctors want help in their patients' programs to prevent diseases by collaborating with other modalities. Patients wish to help and support using these interventions. The resulting shift will have a positive effect on public health, and all sides of our industry will benefit from this change," Michael explains.
For those considering a career in natural health
The complementary medicines industry is profoundly complex but rewarding as it can change people's lives.
Michael explains: "The complexity lies in product formulation and manufacturing, ingredients must be homogeneously mixed, delivered in the correct dosage and form and components must be stable for the entire shelf life.
The complexity of understanding the root cause of disease, how nutrients or herbs work together and how different dosages have different and sometimes opposite effects. To be a natural leader in the industry, Michael believes it is essential to understand these intricacies.
"Overcoming these complexities brings the ultimate reward; you change someone's life for the better, not just one person but millions of people. Working in the practitioner side of the industry, you see the power of nutritional medicine and how it changes people's lives. Practitioners are the last point of call; patients may bounce from doctor to doctor, not finding a solution to their problem and getting sicker. They see an integrative, complementary medicine practitioner. After a month, they are feeling well and functioning better for the first time. Hearing case studies and stories through my clinical support team every week is enriching," ends Michael.
Huge congratulations, Michael!