The Complementary Medicine Research Group was set up in 1993 to promote botanical research by Sir Maurice Laing who tasked Professor Professor Ernst, at the University of Vienna at the time, with its establishment.
Professor Ernst has been a long-time advocate of robust clinical trials to back therapeutic claims in the botanicals sector, a position that won him as many friends as enemies, and provoked his tete-a-tete with the heir to the British crown, who did not appreciate his criticisms.
“I am retiring because the £2 million donated by the Laing Foundation is running out,” he told the blog, Zeno, and noted last-minute negotiations meant the Uni of Exeter post may not collapse after all.
“My University had signed a contract to match this sum, but fund raising was never successful. After Prince Charles complained to the Vice Chancellor about me five years ago, it stopped altogether. Instead of fulfilling their promise, the University told us that they will close us down in May 2011. It was only because I could persuade the new dean who started in September 2010 to reconsider that complete and final closure was averted.”
The Professor will stay on part-time to find a successor, noting the good work of his group must go on.
“We are the only group who is doing full-time CM research not for proving that this or that therapy is effective and safe but for testing whether that is the case,” he said.
“This is such an important difference! It is the difference between a scientist and a promoter. The latter we don’t need in academia, promoters; they already populate every other strand of society.”
Quackery and charlatans
He said his retirement would see him become, “outspoken about quackery and charlatans. I look forward to that. Hopefully, UK libel law has changed by then. “