GIFTS of Health Board Members


Professor Gerry Bodeker


Professor Gerard Bodeker is Chairman of the Oxford-based Global Initiative For Traditional Systems of Health and holds a full Professorship of Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York, currently on an Adjunct basis. He is also in the Division of Medical Sciences at Oxford, where he holds a research appointment in the Department of Primary Health Care Sciences. He has previously held appointments in the University of Oxford’s 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.

Known for his work in wellness and traditional, complementary & alternative medicine, Prof Bodeker has been the Chairman of the Commonwealth Group on Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine. He is also co-founder of the WHO-affiliated Research Initiative on Traditional Antimalarial Methods and serves in an advisory capacity to the United Nations University’s Education for Sustainable Development Project where he is working 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 & Agriculture Organisation. He was also the editor for WHO 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. He has also worked with the Qatar Foundation researching wellness traditions of the Islamic world. Prof. Bodeker is a Fellow of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).


Professor Jeffery Burley, CBE

Founding Director, 

Honorary Senior Advisor

Professor Jeffery Burley is an Emeritus Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, and was the final head of the world-renowned Oxford Forestry Institute before it was fully incorporated into the Department of Plant Sciences. In his various appointments at the University of Oxford he provided education, research, advice and information plus actual consultancies to many countries and agencies throughout the world, especially in Africa, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.


Prof Burley was presented with the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by the Queen of England for services to international forestry in 1991. In 2008, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Costa Rica for his significant contributions to forestry development, education and research in Latin America.


He has been President of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (1995–2000), Chairman of the British and Irish Hardwoods Improvement Programme (1999–2004), and Chairman of the Commonwealth Forestry Association (2002-2005). He has also been Chairman of the British and Irish Hardwoods Trust since 2004. Prof Burley is an Honorary Fellow of the Society of American Foresters and of the UK Institute of Chartered Foresters, Honorary Research Professor at the Chinese Academy of Forestry, and Foreign Corresponding Member of the Swedish and Italian Academies. A member of the Marcus Wallenberg Prize Selection Committee since 1994 (and from 1998 to 2006 the Chairman), he is now a member of the Board of the Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.


Professor Burley was one of the founding members of GIFTS at the PAHO meeting in 1993 served as a Director of the Global Initiatives For Traditional Systems (GIFTS) for almost a quarter of a century. He now serves as Honorary Senior Advisor to GIFTS.


Professor Terence Ryan

Founding Director and Honorary Senior Advisor

Professor Terence Ryan is a renowned Dermatologist and an Emeritus Fellow of Green Templeton College in Oxford. Prof Ryan was a full time consultant with the NHS until he retired from the post in 1997. A member of all governing bodies of his profession, he has held various positions including President of the International Society of Dermatology and Chairman of the International Foundation of Dermatology. In addition, he is a member of the International Advisory Board to the American Lymphedema Framework Project and the International Advisory Committee for the Institute of Applied Dermatology Kasarogod Kerala India. He is also currently Chairman of two International Organisations promoting Community Dermatology, Chairman Taskforce Skin Care for All: Community Dermatology of the International Society of Dermatology.


He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from several International Organisations, and hold titles of professor at Jefferson Philadelphia, Nanjing Limerick and Missouri Universities and honorary doctorates from the University of Hull, UK and  Martin Luther University Wittenberg/Halle, Germany.


Professor Ryan served as a Director of the Global Initiatives For Traditional Systems (GIFTS) for more than two decades and now serves as Honorary Senior Advisor to GIFTS.


Dr Merlin Willcox,

BA BM BCh, D.Phil.

Dr Merlin Willcox is a General Medical Practitioner and honorary clinical researcher at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences of the University of Oxford, with interests in the care of vulnerable people, global health, and traditional medicine. He is currently Academic Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Primary Health Care at Southampton University.


He has researched different aspects of primary health care in low-income countries, with a particular focus on malaria and traditional medicines. He has been involved in several clinical trials of herbal medicines in Uganda, Madagascar, Mali and the UK. He has mentored researchers in Mali, Uganda and South Africa in conducting “Retrospective Treatment Outcome” studies as part of the EU-funded MUTHI project.


He coordinates the RITAM network (Research Initiative on Traditional Antimalarial Methods). From 2010-2015, through the Department of Primary Health Care, Dr Willcox coordinated the Oxford contribution to the HURAPRIM project, a collaboration with several European and African Universities, and co-led with Prof Gerry Bodeker the EU-funded Multi-University Traditional Healthcare Initiative (MUTHI), training African scientists in best practice in medicinal plant research.


Gemma Burford

Gemma Burford is a Co-Director of the Global Initiative for Traditional Systems of Health and a member of the Values and Sustainability Research Group at the University of Brighton.  She has co-edited two books on traditional, complementary and alternative medicine, and has written or co-authored more than 20 other peer-reviewed publications across a variety of disciplines.  She holds an MBiochem (Hons) in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry from the University of Oxford and an MSc in Environmental Anthropology from the University of Kent.


Emma Weisbord

Emma Weisbord has worked on sustainable development projects in North America, East Africa and Latin America. She has been working with GIFTS of Health since 2011 researching biodiversity, intellectual property rights and wellness.

Wanting to build on these experiences, Emma sought out further training through an MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management at the University of Oxford where she focused on water governance in the wellness industry. Following the MSc, She worked on the Multidisciplinary University Traditional Health Initiative (MUTHI) project through Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Health Care Sciences, which aimed to strengthen research capacity on traditional herbal medicines within African Universities. Afterwards, with the Environmental Change Institute, she led and implemented programmes in support of the University of Oxford’s sustainability initiatives, including the award winning Carbon Innovation Programme.


Community building and engagement have been central themes throughout her career and she has joined the International Water Association-HQ team as a Network Officer. Her current research looks at the role of water in wellbeing. 



Adva Volkov

Adva Volkov is a Research Associate in the Global Initiative For Traditional Systems (GIFTS) of Health, Oxford, UK.

Educated at the Broshim Campus of the Tel Aviv University Sports & Health Center, she is a trained naturopath, clinical herbalist, and massage therapist,. She holds a teaching position in the Integrative Medical Herbalism curriculum at the Broshim Campus and also is involved in clinical practice. She holds a diploma in Naturopathy and Clinical Herbalism, with specializations in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Reflexology.

Her current research interests include the implementation of integrative medicine treatment for skin conditions and mental health problems.