Medical technology investment to improve lives

11 September 2017

The Biomedical Translation Fund will fund three medical breakthroughs, as announced jointly by The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Health and Sports Minister and Senator The Hon Arthur Sinodinos, Minister for Industry, Innovation ad Science.

The investments are being made for the BTF by one of its three fund managers, BioScience Managers:

  • $5 million in Rex Bionics to develop a hands-free robotic device to help people with severe
    disability to walk, exercise and rehabilitate;
  • $3.3 million to Saluda Medical for neuromodulation technologies for people suffering from
    chronic back pain and other debilitating conditions;
  • $5 million to CHARM Informatics for data aggregation and commercialisation services for
    makers of ‘smart’ medical devices.

A joint venture between the Australian Government and private sector investors, further investments are yet to be made, with a total of $500 million available.

Read the full media release about the Biomedical Translation Fund.

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Why online health records help us all

Friday 1 September 2017

In an era of big data, the opportunity to harness the masses of information, including personal health records, through better collection, linkage and access, has the potential to transform our health systems and the way we deliver healthcare.

The more a doctor who is treating you knows about your medical history (and the quicker that history can be accessed) the better chance you have of it saving your life. If you are in an accident, unconscious and seriously hurt, then you really want those taking care of you to be able to access all your information about allergies, illnesses and medical history. It could make the difference between life and death.

You might assume doctors in various parts of the health system can already access your information, when the reality is that in most cases they cannot.The Australian health system is fragmented and information is not easily shared between the various GPs, medical specialists, private clinics and hospitals you visit over a lifetime. This means the data a medical professional looks at might not be complete or you may have to recall your own history repeatedly. This can lead to poor diagnoses and increased cost to the health system, with every repeat test and scan that might otherwise have been avoided.

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Federal Budget 2017-18 | First grants issued by MRFF

Response to Budget 2017

Research Australia welcomes first grants issued by Medical Research Future Fund

Government delivers on promise to establish flow of funding into health and medical research $20 billion capital target to be achieved in 2020-21

After a long-fought campaign to bring the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to reality, health and medical researchers have welcomed the first round of grants issued from the MRFF, as announced tonight in the Federal Budget. $65.9 million is available for 2016/17, with the detail of $25 million of this spending released tonight. Just as importantly, we now have a clear path to achieving the capital target of $20 billion, with the Budget papers revealing this target will be achieved in 2020-21.

Research Australia Director and CSL’s Senior Vice President of Research, Dr Andrew Nash, said the Budget announcement tonight confirmed the Government has begun to deliver on its promise to establish a consistent flow of funding for health and medical research.

“The grants announced tonight represent an important milestone in the establishment of this landmark source of funding for health and medical research.
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Federal Budget 2017-18 | Highlights

We have just got out of the Health Portfolio Federal Budget Lockup and here’s some early news on items affecting our sector.

We will provide you with more details around how the Federal Budget 2017-18 directly impacts health and medical research in the next few hours.

  • In 17-18, the total Health budget including (Aged Care & Sport) will increase 2.8% on last year to $94.2bn – that is 20% of total Commonwealth spend.
  • $5bn of that relates to HMR which includes:
    • $10M in preventive health research funded from MRFF
    • $78.8m for cancer research including $68m for a Proton Beam Facility in South Australia and $14.8m for childhood cancer.
  • Funding of $642.9 million will be made available in 2020 – 21, bringing total investment in HMR over the first 5 years of the MRFF to 1.4b, this is in addition to NHMRC funding.
  • $374.2m for national expansion of My Health Record to an opt-out system as agreed by COAG last year which will deliver enormous savings to the nation’s health bill over the next decade.
  • A compact with the pharmaceutical sector will mean lower cost medicines for consumers and in return allow more new drugs on the PBS and provide certainty and funding viability for the sector – congratulations to Medicines Australia

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Temporary Work (Skilled) visa subclass 457 scrapped

This week, the Prime Minister announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018.

The TSS visa program will be comprised of a Short-Term stream of up to two years and a Medium-Term stream of up to four years and will support businesses ‘in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.’
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National Science Statement

Yesterday the Australian government launched the National Science Statement, outlining its commitment to science as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

This comes in advance of the 2030 Strategic Plan for Innovation, Science and Research, with Innovation and Science Australia commissioned by the government to review Australia’s performance in science and innovation, and develop a plan through to 2030.

Research Australia welcomes the Statement’s long-term approach to science in Australia; in particular, the explicit references to secure and sustainable investment and recognition of the role of research as a central contributor to GDP.  Continue reading “National Science Statement”

Themes and Priorities for the CRC Programme

CRCs have played a key role in the translation of Australian health and medical research. Research Australia’s response to the Government’s consultation on Themes and Priorities for the CRC Programme took the opportunity to advocate for the reinstatement of Public Good CRCs, which are specifically excluded by the most recent Guidelines for the CRC Programme.

Research Australia’s Submission – CRC Themes Consultation

Electronic Health Records

The Australian Government has consulted on changes to the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system, including moving to an opt out system, which creates the prospect of a much higher take up of the system and much greater utility to researchers in the future. While there is no proposed change to current arrangements in relation to research, the review offers the opportunity to influence how the system can be used for research purposes. Research Australia has supported the move to an opt out system, and has made a number of recommendations, including amending the legislation to allow identified data to be provided for data linking with other data sources for research purposes, and the indefinite retention of health records as a important resource for longitudinal research.

Electronic Health Records

Assessing the wider benefits of university based research

In June 2013 the Australian Government issued a consultation paper seeking views on a proposal to assess the wider benefits of university based research. The paper proposed that a pilot exercise be undertaken in 2014 using case studies and quantitative data, and sought input on its design. Research Australia made a submission, urging a small scale ‘experimental’ approach using existing data to the greatest extent possible to test the feasibility and value of measuring research impact in this manner.

Assessing the wider benefits of university based research

Pharmaceutical Patents Review Draft Report

In October 2012, the Australian Government announced a review of pharmaceutical patents, including the provisions for extending the terms of eligible pharmaceutical patents. The Review has issued a draft report with a number of interim findings and recommendations. Research Australia has made a submission to the Review, emphasising the important role that pharmaceutical patents play in encouraging innovation and competition, and the importance of providing a level of protection that is consistent with our collaborators in pharmaceutical development in the USA and Europe. Research Australia has also emphasised the important distinction between paying a drug company for its innovation by buying drugs under patent, and providing public funding for research.

Pharmaceutical Patents Review Draft Report