The importance of wellness explored by Professor Gerard Bodeker

Gerard BodekerPersonal and global wellness has become more relevant than ever in this year dominated by the varied global impacts from COVID-19, highlighted by a new chapter in the Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Global Public Health publication.

Co-authored by Green Templeton College member Professor Gerard Bodeker, Wellbeing and Mental Wellness explores the scientific landscape of wellbeing and mental wellness and ways forward for the public and individual.

Put simply by Professor Bodeker, “there are many evidence-based pathways to mental wellness which can be self-managed, are generally low cost, and have been shown by repeated studies to result in significant enhancement of mental wellbeing.” A recent report on Wellness in Worrying Times, prepared by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), also features work by Professor Bodeker, exploring how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought wellness to the fore. He is currently working with ADB on a book on Wellness in Asia.

Prof Bodeker, whose doctoral studies were at Harvard, is Chairman of the Oxford-based Global Initiative For Traditional Systems of Health and holds a Professorship of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York. He has previously held Oxford appointments in the Department of Primary Health Care Sciences, the Nuffield Department of Medicine, the Department of Dermatology, the Health Services Research Unit, and the Department of International Development. He has also held fellowships in the Oxford Forestry Institute and the Green College Centre for Environmental Policy and Understanding. And he is a Fellow of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

Known for his work in wellness and traditional, complementary and alternative medicine, Prof Bodeker has been the Chairman of the Commonwealth Working Group on Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine. He co-founded the WHO-affiliated Research Initiative on Traditional Antimalarial Methods and served in an advisory capacity to the United Nations University’s Education for Sustainable Development Project, through which he is continuing to work on projects in Indonesia.

Prof Bodeker has worked on traditional medicine and medicinal plant conservation for agencies including the World Health Organisation, the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. He was the editor for WHO’s Global Atlas on Traditional and Complementary Medicine. He has published a book with Malaysian colleagues on health and wellness traditions of Malaysia. His other projects include research on refugee use of traditional medicine at Thai-Burma border, and working with Oxford and other colleagues on an EU funded project to develop research capacity on medicinal plants and herbal medicines in Africa.

As Chair of the Mental Wellness Initiative of the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), Prof Bodeker led the publication of the GWI White Paper, Mental Wellness – Pathways, Evidence, Horizons, which was published in 2018. He is currently co-editing a book with Taylor and Francis on Healthy Ageing in Asia.

A member of Green Templeton College since 1993, he has worked closely and published with two former Vice Wardens of Green College, Professor Terence Ryan and Professor Jeff Burley CBE, both Fellows of Green Templeton.

With Green Templeton’s focus on human welfare and noting the crisis in mental health that has accompanied COVID-19, Prof Bodeker sees much scope for a Green Templeton role in envisioning and evaluating sustainable pathways to wellbeing both in the UK and internationally.

Created: 5 November 2020

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