MEDIA RELEASE – AUSTRALIA’S HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCHERS ASKED TO DO MORE FOR EVEN LESS

Research Australia, the national peak body for health and medical research, is calling for an urgent injection of funding into the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) with news today that inflation is running at 5.1%, meaning important medical discoveries are at greater risk of going unfunded.

Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin said the health and medical research sector is concerned that key funding streams have failed to keep pace with inflation, which has been exacerbated by today’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase.

“In the recent Budget, the funding available to the NHMRC increased by only 1.5% for 2022-23. This was bad enough with the Budget forecasting inflation at 3%, but with CPI now hitting 5.1%, the situation is getting worse,” Ms Levin said.

“Researchers are expected to do more with less, at a time when universities are still recovering from the pandemic and delays have impacted research. We have researchers on fixed term contracts of as little as 3 months and the rising cost of conducting research puts the already dire position of so many researchers at even greater risk.

“We have such opportunity in drawing international companies to Australia to support industry and jobs growth because of our research excellence, but we must adequately fund basic research to ensure new discoveries are coming through the pipeline to commercialise.”

Research Australia is representing the sector on the Strategy Advisory Committee to develop the nation’s health and medical research strategy that will facilitate a national approach to health and medical research and innovation.

“We know this strategy is long-term and must be underpinned by stronger investment in key supports for fundamental research, in particular the NHMRC, which is a crucial part of building future capabilities,” Ms Levin said.

“We also need action now, to protect vital research and ensure researchers’ continuing employment. Research Australia is calling for a further injection into the NHMRC’s budget allocation, at a bare minimum, to reflect the projected cost of inflation as an urgent short-term fix.

“We saw the Government take steps with the petrol excise levy and one-off cash payments – we are asking for the same sort of urgent consideration for our vital research,” Ms Levin said.

ENDS

Research Australia is the national peak body for health and medical research, representing the entire health and medical research pipeline.

For more on Research Australia, go to: www.researchaustralia.org

Media contact: Peta Garrett – 0400 011 394

PRE-ELECTION STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF AUSTRALIA’S HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH SECTOR

14 April 2022

Research Australia, the national peak body for health and medical research, presents a Pre-Election Statement on behalf of Australia’s health and medical research sector. The collective statement is made by a broad cross section of Australia’s health innovators across the entire research pipeline.

The collective Statement outlines the following four key reforms the health and medical research sector recommends to ensure Australia’s future innovation and health of our nation:

  1. A National Health and Medical Research Strategy that ensures research priorities better meet health system and population needs and maximises economic opportunities.
  2. A National HMR Workforce Plan that attracts and supports a highly skilled, sustainable research workforce with circular mobility between academia and industry.
  3. Consumers as co-designers of research to enable researchers and consumers to meaningfully engage in research co design by ensuring they have the skills to improve research translation and Australians’ health.
  4. Australia as a global health innovator to systematically build Australia’s capacity in medical commercialisation and medical manufacturing to meet local demand, grow industries and jobs, and build export markets for products and services.

“Australia must have a clearly articulated national approach to supporting a sustainable research ecosystem with a focus on excellence in fundamental and translational research and areas of global competitive advantage,” Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin said.

“There are significant opportunities for real economic stimulus and jobs growth across Australia’s health and medical research pipeline. Short and long-term reforms are needed to harness the skills and talent that can help us realise the ambition of a world’s best health system,” Ms Levin said.

Research Australia has led the call for a national strategy on behalf of the sector, which was announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt MP at the Research Australia Awards in December.

Ms Levin has been appointed to the recently formed Strategic Advisory Committee as a representative of the sector to develop the nation’s strategy for health and medical research.

To view the Pre-Election Statement please click here.

 

ENDS

Research Australia is the national peak body for health and medical research, representing the entire health and medical research pipeline.

 

MEDIA RELEASE – MEETING OF THE MINDS ON AUSTRALIA’S FUTURE HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH

8 April 2022

SEIZING opportunities for Australian health and medical research under a future National Health and Medical Research Strategy was the focus at Research Australia’s Pre-Election Summit this week in Melbourne.

Research Australia, the national alliance for health and medical research, has led the call for a national strategy on behalf of the sector, which was announced by Health Minister Greg Hunt MP at the Research Australia Awards in December. Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin has been appointed to the recently formed Strategic Advisory Committee as a representative of the sector to develop the nation’s strategy for health and medical research.

“This week’s Summit saw a meeting of the minds between both political and sector leaders to set the policy objectives needed to strengthen our health and medical research. This national strategy will meet future health challenges and maximise the economic opportunities our world-leading research offers our nation,” Ms Levin said.

Hosted in partnership with WEHI and CSL, the Summit saw medical researchers and innovators from around Australia join parliamentarians to advance Australia’s medical research and innovation capacity to improve health and economic outcomes for Australia.

“We received strong commitment across the political divide to back our world-class researchers to advance our sovereign capability to innovate and translate research and realise our sector’s full potential in improving health and saving lives,” Ms Levin said.

“The need to develop a more secure and sustainable health and medical research workforce through strategic pathways and skills development was identified as was the chance to invest in our amazing research, both basic and applied, deliberately and sustainably,” Ms Levin said.

Federal Member for Higgins and Co-Chair Parliamentary Friends of Health and Medical Research Dr Katie Allen MP said health and medical research is greatly valued not only by government but also by the Australian people.

“It is important to look at the impact health and medical research makes in changing and saving lives,” Dr Allen said. “We are resourceful and resilient. We need to be better at celebrating that impact and talking about what our strengths and successes are but also to recognising what we can do to build on those capabilities.”

Dr Allen also said we need to acknowledge the world class investment in research in Australia and that the Government’s priority is bridging the gap between commercialisation and research, our sovereign capabilities and competitive advantages.

Federal Shadow Assistant Health Minister Ged Kearney MP said that Labor recognised workforce issues need to be addressed by government and that Labor will target a stream of the National Reconstruction Fund to health and medical research and medical innovation.

“When public policy is married with research, public good follows,” Ms Kearney said. “Labor will prioritise greater job security in health and medical research.”

Federal Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing Senator Louise Pratt identified Australia’s poorly diversified economy as a key challenge for our country, pointing to the ALP’s National Reconstruction Fund as prioritising domestic medical manufacturing.

“We currently import more drugs than we export. The National Reconstruction Fund will prioritise domestic manufacturing, which will provide us with access to the medical products that we need,” Ms Pratt said.

The Greens Spokesperson for Science, Research, and Innovation Senator Dorinda Cox highlighted the need to translate research concepts into rapid application to ensure improved health outcomes.

Ms Cox also spoke of the Greens’ policy to invest 4 per cent of GDP in science, research and innovation by 2030 and boost home-grown manufacturing.

“We don’t have the ability to produce modern medical manufacturing because we don’t have the infrastructure,” Ms Cox said.

The Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Federal Member for Lingiari and Co-Chair Parliamentary Friends of Rural and Remote Health pointed to the role that research can play in addressing social determinants of health in Indigenous communities.

In addressing the question of better translating research into best practice outcomes, Mr Snowdon recommended including local government at the national table to ensure research is designed to meet local health needs.

The need to bring state and federal jurisdictions together working strongly together under a National Strategy to strategically find the best way to invest in research was also a key theme.

To view Research Australia’s Pre-Election Statement on behalf of the health and medical research sector, please see here.

ENDS

Research Australia is the national peak body for health and medical research, representing the entire health and medical research pipeline. For more on Research Australia, go to: www.researchaustralia.org

 Media contact: Peta Garrett – 0400 011 394

2022/23 BUDGET UPDATE

Summary

With an election due to be called any day now, it is no surprise that the 2022 Budget has contained some significant spending commitments.

The rising cost of living has become a key election issue and this Budget delivers cash payments, extends tax relief and cuts the fuel excise in half for six months. Rising inflation also affects health and medical research, making the cost of undertaking research higher. Disappointingly, the Government has once again failed to address this issue, with increases in funding for the NHMRC failing to even keep pace with inflation. The ARC’s Discovery program is forecast to increase slightly in real terms by around 1% per annum above forecast inflation. The ARC Linkage Program will increase by around the same amount, but is also expected to deliver new Industry Fellowships announced in February as part of the University Research Commercialisation Scheme.

There are big spending announcements in areas as diverse as Defence and infrastructure. While not on the same scale, there is some good news for health and medical research, including:

    • A continuation of the important MRFF Frontier Health and Medical Research initiative (designed by Research Australia in partnership with the Department of Health) out to 31-32;
    • $28.1 million for a new government agency, Genomics Australia, to support the implementation of genomics as a standard of care in Australia;
    • Much-needed funding for primary care research with an additional $70m through the MRFF and $1.9m to the University of QLD for an effectiveness-implementation trial to reduce anti-depressant use; and
    • Targeted funding for research of benefit to rural and regional Australia with new University Departments of Rural Health at Edith Cowan University and Curtin University and a new Rural Clinical School at Charles Sturt University.

This year’s Budget also includes the announcement of the Biotechnology in Australia- Strategic Plan for Health and Medicine, which focuses on the health and medical applications of biotechnology. A framework to identify gaps and align future initiatives to support the important biotechnology sector is very welcome news. Research Australia will be watching this initiative closely to understand how it aligns with Vision 2040 the National Strategy for Health and Medical Research announced by Minister Hunt at the Research Australia Awards last year.

The spending in this Budget has been made possible by better than forecast tax revenue, led by high export prices for commodities like iron ore and coal. What the Budget fails to do in any meaningful way is prepare Australia for the post-mining resources economy, where we will need to rely on the production of high-value-added goods and services if we are to maintain our standard of living. Research Australia has been arguing for several years now for a substantial, sustained and long-term investment by the Government in R&D. Once again, this issue has not been addressed.

The innovation focus of this Budget appears to be a continuation of the Government’s research commercialisation agenda, first announced in February, with $988.2m of funding over five years, including $505.2m to establish Australia’s economic accelerator grants to support collaboration between universities and industry.

Please read on for our summary of what this Budget means for health and medical research and innovation.

Health Portfolio

In Research Australia’s Pre-Budget Submission and our Pre-Election Statement we continued to call for increases in funding for the NHMRC’s Medical Research Endowment Account (MREA). This Budget sees the Government’s funding to the MREA continue to decline in real terms. This is of genuine concern to the health and medical research community; it jeopardises our long term research capability and increases the precariousness of research careers, especially for early and mid-career researchers. Addressing these and other issues are at the centre of Research Australia’s advocacy for a truly National Health and Medical Research Strategy, which has been given impetus by Health Minister Greg Hunt’s announcement last year of Vision 2040. We are working with Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to make this vision a reality.

Overall health expenditure reflects the recurrent expenditure needed to maintain our health system as is. While there is some funding for planned growth, there is not the major funding injection that so many from the medical community and State and Territory Governments have been calling for.

Medical Research Future Fund

The amount of funding available from the MRFF is predicted by the Budget to be $650 million per annum over the next four years. The MRFF 10 year Plan, first announced in the 2019 Budget has been extended, committing $6.3 billion across the following themes:

  • $2.1 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $604.8 million for medical translation to support medical discoveries become part of medical practice
  • $1.5 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $114.9 million for medical research to help researchers tackle significant challenges through investment, leadership and collaboration
  • $1.4 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $117.4 million to support patients by funding innovative treatments, supporting clinical trials, and delivering more advanced health care and medical technology
  • $1.3 billion over 10 years from 2022-23, representing a further $495.4 million for medical researchers to make breakthrough discoveries, develop their skills and progress their careers in Australia.

The Government will extend the Biomedical Translation Fund’s (BTF) initial investments period by a further 3 years to support the commercialisation of biomedical discoveries.

The funding available from the MRFF each year is dependent on the investment return on its capital. Investment returns for the MRFF were adversely affected by the COVID driven economic downturn. In the mid-year budget review in December 2020, the Government committed to delivering additional funding of $172.5 million from consolidated revenue to enable it to meet the spending outlined in the MRFF 10 year Plan for 2021-22. A further ‘top up’ was not required in the 2021-22 Budget because markets bounced back. This Budget forecasts healthy investment returns for the MRFF.

NHMRC Programs

The 2022/23 Budget reveals funding for the NHMRC’s programs continuing to grow very slightly, and slower than was forecast in last year’s Budget. The increase in this financial year is 1.7%, with annual increases of around 1.5% per annum over the forward estimates. This is lower than the forecast CPI of 3.0% for 2022-23 and CPI of 2.75% in 2023-24. It also comes on top of CPI of 4.25% in 2021-22. In effect, NHMRC funding continues to decline in real terms, as it has done for many years now.

NHMRC Medical Research Endowment Account Funding

$m. 20-21 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-16
Funding to MREA

2022 Budget

863.266 877.952 891.094 905.355 918.985
Funding to MREA

2021 Budget

853,864 863,266 875,362 887,588 899,124 N/A
Funding to MREA

2020 Budget

853,864 862,412 872,770 884,960 N/A
Funding to MREA 2019 Budget 856.250 869.950 883.870 N/A N/A

 

Preventive Health Strategy

In December last year, the Australian Government published the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030. The Strategy refers to the need to significantly enhance investment in prevention in order to achieve a better balance between treatment and prevention. A long-term, sustainable funding mechanism is essential to achieving the aims of this Strategy, including that investment in prevention is increased (Aim 4).’

The 2022 Budget includes only a modest $30.1 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to improve health outcomes through preventive and other health initiatives under the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030. Only some of this funding is new, with part being met form ‘within the existing resources of the Department of Health’. None of this funding is directed to research to support preventive health measures.

Elsewhere in the Budget under the heading of preventive health there is funding of $1 million over 2 years from 2022-23 to conduct research to address priority men’s health issues in line with the objectives of the National Men’s Health Strategy 2020-2030.

MND Clinical Trials

Staying with direct Department of Health funding for research, $4 million will be provided over 2 years from 2022-23 to the FightMND Foundation for the delivery of early-phase clinical trials to develop new treatments for Motor Neurone Disease.

Comprehensive Cancer Centre for WA

Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced $375 million to establish a comprehensive cancer centre in WA, modelled on the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and the Chris O’Brien Lighthouse in Sydney. Proposed by Research Australia member the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, it is also dependent on funding form the WA Government, which has yet to be confirmed.

Education Portfolio

Nearly half of all Australian health and medical research is undertaken in the higher education sector, and the Department of Education makes a significant contribution to the funding of this research through several programs, as outlined below.

ARC Programs

The Australian Research Council’s Funding Programs are critical to Australian publicly funded research, including to the life sciences and medical technologies.

Discovery Program

Over the forward estimates in this Budget, the funding to the ARC for the Discovery Program increases by 4.5% compared to 2021/22, and by an average of 4.5% per annum over the forward estimates. This means that for the first time in many years the Discovery Program is forecast to increase slightly in real terms (i.e. at a rate higher than inflation). The increase is not significant, perhaps only 1% above forecast inflation, but nonetheless welcome.

 

Discovery Program

$m. 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget 489.188 511.074 535.915 562.406 585.206
2021 Budget 489.188 494.922 501.162 509.432
2020 Budget 487.016 487.860 490.610
2019 Budget 525.537 538.350 N/A

Linkage

The ARC Linkage Program has been singled out by the Government as an important component of Australia’s innovation system and is delivering the Industry Fellows component of the University Research Commercialisation Scheme. Accordingly, there is a boost to the Linkage Program’s funding in this Budget of around $11 million per annum compared to what was allocated last year. Like the Discovery Program, this equates to annual increases of 4.5% per annum, about 1% per annum ahead of inflation over the forward estimates. At the same time, the Linkage Program is meant to be delivering 800 new Industry Fellowships over 10 years announced in February; the increases announced in the Budget are not enough to enable it to do this and also keep up with inflation. Funding the Industry Fellowships will require savings elsewhere in the Linkage Program.

 Linkage Program

$m. 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget 325.454 340.820 357.704 375.595 390.950
2021 Budget 325.454 329.948 334.109 339.622
2020 Budget 323.871 325.240 327.074 N/A
2019 Budget 295.246 301.741 N/A N/A

 

Research Support

In addition to providing funding for the ARC research programs, the Department of Education and Training provides funding to universities to help cover the indirect costs of research.

In the 2020 Budget, the Government used the Research Support Program to provide a vital injection of $1 billion into higher education research in the current financial year. No further injection was provided in last year’s Budget and funding in this Budget for 2022-23 is actually lower than was forecast in the 2019 Budget. The increases forecast in this Budget averages 2.5% per annum over the forward estimates. Once again this is less than inflation and represents a decline in funding in real terms.

Research Support Program

$m. 20-21 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget   930.659 951.188 978.674 1,002.668 1,028.230
2021 Budget 1918.298 930.659 942.775 958.326 974.143
2020 Budget 1918.298 926.490 929.270 938.107 N/A
2019 Budget 920.573 941.748 962.455 N/A N/A
2018 Budget 1018.879 1042.302 N/A N/A N/A

Funding for the indirect costs of research funded by the MRFF is provided from the Research Support Program. With the MRFF providing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to universities, a substantial increase in the Research Support Program is needed just to maintain the levels of research support funding for research projects at their current already inadequate level. The cuts to the Research Support Program beyond the one-off boost in 2020-21 represent a real and continued threat to the capacity of our universities to undertake vital health and medical research.

The issue of indirect research costs remains unresolved for the whole health and medical research sector and indeed publicly funded research more broadly. Research Australia continues to call for a whole of government approach to the issue of funding indirect research costs.

Research Training

The Research Training Program (RTP) provides funding to universities to support higher degree by research students (mostly PhDs). Funding for the RTP also declined in absolute terms between the 2019 and 2020 Budgets, and has only partly recovered in the 2022 Budget. The increase in the next financial year is 2.2% and the average increase over the four year period is 2.% per annum; once again failing to keep up with inflation even as it provides an additional 1800 Industry PhDs over the next 10 years.

Research Training Program

$m. 20-21 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget   1069.182 1092.766 1124.344 1151.909 1181.153
2021 Budget 1054.981 1069.182 1083.160 1100.967 1119.137
2020 Budget 1054.981 1064.392 1067.585 1077.738 N/A
2019 Budget 1057.595 1081.921 1105.710 N/A N/A

 Research Commercialisation

In addition to the Industry PhDs and Industry Fellows, the University Research Commercialisation Action Plan committed to implementing Australia’s Economic Accelerator. This is a $1.6 billion program over 10 years, administered by the Department of Education to overcome the valley of death that currently exists between the point at which public research funding ceases (typically publication) and the point at which commercial investors are prepared to get involved. It requires an amendment to the Higher Education Act before it can be implemented, so can only really progress after the election, and if the amendments to the Act are adopted.

National Critical Research Infrastructure (NCRIS) Program

The NCRIS Program funds vital national research infrastructure needed to support Australian research. The 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap is yet to be finalised, with a draft Roadmap released in December 2021. Finalisation of the Roadmap will inform the 2022 Research Infrastructure Investment Plan.

This year’s Budget maintains the forecast $100 million boost to NCRIS from 2023-24. The 2022 Research Infrastructure Investment Plan should provide more detail about how this funding will be allocated once it is completed, hopefully later this year.

National Critical Research Infrastructure Strategy

$m. 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget 273.567 286.043 396.826 496.739 454.441
2021 Budget 273.565 283.922 391.092 491.265

 

Industry, Innovation and Science Portfolio

CRC Program

The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Program is important to health and medical research and innovation, with many of the CRCs funded over the 30-year life of the program being health related. Current CRCs include the Digital Health CRC and the Autism CRC.

The smaller CRC projects program is also relevant, with recently funded projects including the creation of better brain electrodes and development of a bionic medical device that delivers high-fidelity visual-spatial perception for blind people. Funding for the CRC Program is scheduled to increase slightly faster than forecast in last year’s budget, but is still lower than the expected CPI.

CRC Program $million

$m. 20-21 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget 189.395 199.374 193.117 197.070 193.540
2021 Budget 222.777 189.980 197.815 191.042 193.807 N/A

Modern Manufacturing Initiative

The Modern Manufacturing Initiative was a major announcement in the 2020 Budget and part of the Government’s response to COVID-19. The program continues pretty much as planned over the next three years.

 

Modern Manufacturing Initiative

$m. 20-21 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget   420.901 520.00 340.00
2021 Budget 40.000 380.000 520.000 340.000 Nil

CSIRO

The CSIRO has Flagship Programs relevant to health and medical research and is a key collaborator and partner in research. While it generates much of its own revenue it is also funded by the Government. The Government contribution to the CSIRO outlined in the Budget rises in the next two financial years before dropping back again.

CSIRO

$m. 21-22 22-23 23-24 24-25 25-26
2022 Budget 949.037 991.289 985.625 899.352 904.477

Conclusion

Research Australia will continue to provide analysis and commentary in the coming days and weeks. We invite your responses and reactions to how the 2022 Budget affects you and your work.

Please contact Greg Mullins, Head of Policy, greg.mullins@researchaustrlaia.org

 

INVESTMENT IN TRANSLATIONAL HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH WELCOME BUT NHMRC AND ARC CONTINUE TO GO BACKWARDS

29 March 2022

Research Australia, the national alliance for Australian health and medical research, has welcomed strategic investment in medical research and innovation announced in tonight’s Federal Budget while expressing concern at the lack of further investment in key funding streams, including the NHMRC’s Medical Research Endowment Account (MREA).

Research Australia welcomed much-needed support for primary care research, the establishment of Genomics Australia and two new Rural Health Departments at Edith Cowan and Curtin Universities and a Rural Clinical School at Charles Sturt University.

“A framework to identify gaps and align future initiatives to support the biotechnology sector is also very good news and investment in mRNA further supports Australia as a global leader in RNA research,” Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin said.

“We need further significant investment like this if we are serious about innovation and creating future industries.

“We also applaud the continued investment in the MRFF Frontier Health and Medical Research initiative, which was designed by Research Australia in partnership with the Department of Health,” Ms Levin said.

However, while these key announcements supporting health and medical research and innovation are great news, Ms Levin said there is a worrying continuation of the real terms decline in funding for the NHMRC’s MREA.

“This is of genuine concern to the health and medical research community, and it jeopardises our long-term research capability and increases the precariousness of research careers. The pandemic has shown us just how much we need these critical skills and they are not developed overnight. Research is a long term, sustained investment and these funding bodies are crucial to guiding our future,” Ms Levin said.

“It has real impacts for all Australians who rightly expect health and medical research to protect their health and it’s a missed opportunity to build new industries and skills creation in health as a sector.”

“The rising cost of living has been addressed in the Budget with cash payments, tax relief and cuts to the fuel excise however, increasing inflation also affects health and medical research, making the cost of undertaking research higher; and an insecure workforce means we are at risk of losing the skills of those we most need from a health and economic perspective” Ms. Levin said.

Addressing these issues are at the centre of Research Australia’s advocacy for a National Health and Medical Research Strategy, as announced by Minister Hunt at the Research Australia Awards in December.

ENDS 

Research Australia is the national peak body for health and medical research, representing the entire health and medical research pipeline.

Media contact: Peta Garrett – 0400 011 394

RESEARCH AUSTRALIA WELCOMES AUSTRALIA’S ECONOMIC ACCELERATOR TO SUPPORT MEDICAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION

2 February 2022

Research Australia welcomes the announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison of the new $1.6b Australia’s Economic Accelerator (AEA) to enhance the commercialisation of Australia’s world-leading research and innovation.

Seamless support for research from discovery to commercialisation has been a key priority for Research Australia on behalf of its membership across the entire research pipeline, and a significant focus of Research Australia’s national consultation on a future National Health and Medical Research Strategy.

“The AEA program announced by the Prime Minister at the National Press Club is a solid step forward in addressing the well-known problem of the ‘valley of death’,” said Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin.

“Sustainable government funding like this moves us that bit closer towards developing a thriving research commercialisation and manufacturing ecosystem that benefits our health and economy,” Ms Levin said.

“At the moment we have a real issue with public funding not taking research far enough along the pipeline to make it attractive to commercial investors and/or commercial investors who are reluctant to invest in research at an earlier stage.

“Stronger connections between industry and research development along with encouraging mutually beneficial commercialisation partnerships between Australian universities, industry, and funders, can bring significant value for our innovation and export capabilities, and government plays a huge role in facilitating this,” Ms Levin said.

Research Australia also welcomes the announcement of industry PhDs and Fellowships, an initiative Research Australia has advocated for in the past. This is an important step in changing the research culture in Australia to give more researchers experience in industry.

“Our sector has long said there is a pressing need for training for university research staff in commercialisation, business development and developing research with industry and government. We’re hopeful that beyond the industry fellowships program, these issues can be addressed as part of a National Strategy for Health and Medical Research, announced by Health Minister, Greg Hunt at the Research Australia Awards in December.

“Research Australia looks forward to seeing the detail on how these programs will work and integrate with existing programs to provide effective and sustainable support across the entire pipeline of research from discovery to translation,” Ms Levin said.

Ensuring nationally coordinated, strategic investment in all stages of research has strong support from the sector under a future National Health and Medical Research Strategy.

“We are pleased to see the University Research Commercialisation Action Plan reinforce the importance of funding for basic research, however funding the full cost of research across the pipeline remains an issue.

“We will continue to advocate for increased funding across the research pipeline and the inclusion of Medical Research Institutes in the Accelerator, Industry PhD and Fellowships programs to ensure industry is able to engage more effectively with all of Australia’s publicly funded researchers,” Ms Levin said.

The issues facing funding for health and medical research are explored further by Research Australia here as part of our work on a new National Health and Medical Research Strategy. https://researchaustralia.org/health-and-medical-research-australia-can-do-better/strategic-coordination-of-funding-for-health-and-medical-research/

 

ENDS

Research Australia is the national peak body for health and medical research, representing stakeholders across the entire health and medical research pipeline. For more on Research Australia, go to: www.researchaustralia.org

 Media contact: Peta Garrett – 0400 011 394

 

MEDIA RELEASE – Research Australia and Bupa Health Foundation partner to celebrate advances in health data science

21 December 2021

Research Australia was delighted to have Bupa Australia’s Health Foundation as a category Sponsor of the Data Innovation Award at the 18th Annual Health and Medical Research Awards.

Dr Chris Dalton, National Medical Director of Bupa Australia, awarded Dr Tracy Dudding-Byth the Data Innovation Award at the ceremony.

“We continue to sponsor this award as Bupa Health Foundation believes by recognising the inspirational contributions of researchers it encourages us to do more to drive improvements in healthcare that benefit us all with the power to transform lives.

“We believe data is a positive force in health, creating significant opportunities for raising the bar on how health services are delivered; whether it’s having the right information at the bedside when it is needed, or being able to predict where the health pressures will come from, to improving health planning or using data to create new knowledge and knowhow for treatments, interventions, devices and medicines,” Dr Dalton said.

Dr Tracy Dudding-Byth from the Hunter New England Local Health District was nominated for the Data Innovation Award by Professor John Attia from the University of Newcastle for her incredible work on the FaceMatch project.

“I am thrilled to acknowledge Dr Dudding-Byth’s work using data to develop a first-of-its-kind international platform incorporating facial recognition technology to help diagnose possible rare genetic conditions in children.

“FaceMatch and Dr Dudding-Byth’s work is just one example of how health and medical researchers know how to manage and analyse data, which is an essential component of all modern health research and crucial to delivering health benefits to all Australians.

“The health and medical research sector has made significant progress in extracting useful and unbiased information from medical records which can be used in data analyses, and I would like to particularly pay tribute to Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite, the Founding Director of the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at Macquarie University, who has been a leader in many aspects of this work,” Dr Dalton said.

Research Australia CEO and Managing Director Nadia Levin said, “As a Foundation Member of Research Australia, Bupa Australia has been a loyal supporter of our sector through its continued work with Research Australia, particularly through their sponsorship of our signature awards event.”

For more information on Bupa Australia’s Health Foundation go to: https://www.bupa.com.au/about-us/bupa-health-foundation

MEDIA RELEASE – Congratulations to the 2020-21 Health and Medical Research Award Winners

14 December 2021

The country’s leading scientific minds and advocates have been recognised in Research Australia’s 18th Health and Medical Research Awards, celebrating the phenomenal researchers, doctors, and community champions who are working to transform the sector and change lives.

Researchers working to revolutionise the treatment of spinal cord injuries and slash the rate of infection in our hospitals were among those honoured, as well as the dedicated advocates and philanthropists who help make their work possible.

Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin said the standard of the finalists was a testament to the diversity and drive of Australia’s research sector and its role as a global leader in health and medical innovation.

“Australian researchers are continuously making new discoveries that transform our understanding, prevention and treatment of disease,” Ms Levin said.

“These incredible scientists have demonstrated astounding commitment to our collective human progress, while making tangible improvements to our individual health, wellbeing and health services.

“Throughout the pandemic, Australia’s health and medical research sector has ploughed on with remarkable dedication and world-leading discoveries. The pandemic has underscored the critical importance of health and medical research – the fact that we are all here today, vaccinated for a virus which was unknown two years ago, is a triumph for research collaboration and innovation.

“Research Australia is proud to advocate for the sector, marking our twentieth year of doing so. We’re honoured to celebrate the winners of this year’s Health and Medical Research Awards – an inspirational mix of researchers, advocates and philanthropists whose work is both life-changing and sector-defining.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt delivered the keynote address at the event. NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Health James Griffin MP (representing Minister Brad Hazzard) presented the Health Services Research Award, the Hon Gabrielle Upton MP co-presented the Data Innovation Award and Dr Fiona Martin MP co-presented the Griffith Discovery Award. Dr Mike Freelander MP presented the Great Australian Philanthropy Award and Zali Steggall OAM MP presented the Advocacy Award.

Professor Brendan Murphy received Research Australia’s flagship award, the prestigious Peter Wills Medal, in honour of his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the Government Chief Medical Officer, Professor Murphy provided expert advice to Australian governments that helped spare tens of thousands of Australian lives in the first wave of the pandemic and strengthened Australia’s international reputation in the areas of medical and health research. Professor Murphy continues to serve Australians today as Secretary of the Department of Health.

Dr John Parker, founding CEO of Saluda Medical, won the Frontiers Award for his leadership towards developing an innovative treatment for chronic back pain, with potentially beneficial applications for patients with Parkinson’s disease and children with cerebral palsy.

Dr Mo Chen (Griffith University) was awarded the Griffith University Discovery Award for his 3D-printed cellular nerve bridge system that creates ‘artificial’ human nerves using the patient’s own cells, potentially revolutionising treatment and recovery for more than 21,000 Australians living with a spinal cord injury.

On behalf of their family, Andrew and Jean Miller graciously accepted the Great Australian Philanthropy Award for the extraordinary generosity they have shown through the Miller Foundation since it was established in 1974. More than $100 million has been bestowed through the foundation across a spectrum of medical research, including work focused on maternal and child health, cancer, infectious diseases such as malaria, heart disease and diabetes, indigenous health, and research programs addressing socially disadvantaged vulnerable young people and children.

The Advocacy Award was presented to the Chimera Legacy Foundation, established by Damien Thompson and his parents Bob and Debbie, recognising their tremendous efforts towards raising awareness and funds for medical research and improving the experience of patients in hospital.

The Data Innovation Award – sponsored by the Bupa Health Foundation – was awarded to Dr Tracy Dudding-Byth (Hunter New England LHD) for her work using facial recognition technology to help investigate and diagnose syndromic intellectual disability.

Professor Brett Mitchell (Newcastle University) received the Health Services Award – sponsored by the NSW Government – for his leading work in infection control, including research helping to drive greater use of antiseptics to prevent infection in hospital settings.

The GSK Award for Research Excellence was jointly awarded to Professor Jamie Cooper and Professor Rinaldo Bellomo (Monash University). Professor Mark Febbraio (Monash University) was also recognised as winner of the 2020 award.

Ms Levin said that each of the award categories was competitive, and every nominee displayed remarkable achievements in their respective fields.

“On behalf of Research Australia, I would like to thank all our nominees, nominators and members for helping make this night a memorable celebration of the astounding ability and dedication within this sector,” she said. “I would also like to thank the organisations who have supported the awards, including the NSW Government, Bupa Health Foundation, Griffith University, Australian National University and GSK.”  Supporting research is as important as the research itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further information or interview requests, please contact Pia Akerman – 0412 346 746.

A full list of winners follows.

2020-21 Research Australia Award Winners

Peter Wills Medal: Named in honour of Research Australia’s Deputy Chairman, Peter Wills AC, a great leader whose work led to the inception of Research Australia. The Peter Wills Medal is the flagship award and recognises someone who has made an outstanding, long-term contribution to building Australia’s international reputation in areas of health and medical research and fostering collaboration for better health.

Winner – Professor Brendan Murphy, Secretary of the Department of Health.

Frontiers Research Award: Sponsored by Australian National University, this Award recognises the success of innovative health and medical research that extends existing knowledge, boundaries and/or understandings within health and medical research.

Winner – Dr John Parker, Founding CEO of Saluda Medical

Griffith University Discovery Award: This Award recognises an early career researcher (anytime from qualification but no more than 5 years past PhD) whose paper/patent/discovery has already demonstrated its importance or impact.

Winner – Dr Mo Chen (Griffith University)

Great Australian Philanthropy Award: This Award profiles personal philanthropy that is outstanding in its generosity, effectiveness, vision, high impact and transformative quality. The Award recognises and encourages personal philanthropic donations over a period of time by an individual(s) or family to Australian health and medical research.

Winner – Andrew and Jean Miller (Miller Foundation)

Advocacy Award: This Award recognises and congratulates exceptional contributions made by research champions who help raise community awareness and understanding about the importance of health and medical research.

Winner – The Chimera Legacy Foundation, founded by Damien, Debbie and Bob Thompson

Data Innovation Award: This Award recognises an individual or team whose innovation is considered to represent one of the most impactful new data innovations in the HMR sector within the past five years. Sponsored by Bupa Health Foundation.

Winner – Dr Tracy Dudding-Byth (Hunter New England LHD)

Health Services Research Award: This Award is for an individual or team who has provided leadership and made an outstanding contribution to health services research; driven research that has led to a significant improvement in healthcare; and/or has championed the development of the health services research field. Sponsored by the Victorian Government.

Winner – Professor Brett Mitchell (Newcastle University)

GSK Award for Research Excellence: One of the most prestigious awards available to Australian researchers, this prize has been awarded since 1980 to recognise outstanding achievements in medical research with potential importance to human health. This year’s Award is accompanied by a grant of $80,000 to further the winner’s research.

Winners –  Professor Jamie Cooper and Professor Rinaldo Bellomo (Monash University)

MEDIA RELEASE – NATIONAL HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH STRATEGY ANNOUNCED AT RESEARCH AUSTRALIA AWARDS

13 December 2021

A NATIONAL Health and Medical Research Strategy will see a national approach to research, bringing earlier treatments to Australians and those around the world.

Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt announced the development of the Vision 2040 Strategy at Research Australia’s 18th Annual Health and Medical Research Awards on Thursday night.

Research Australia, the national alliance representing the entire health and medical research pipeline, has been leading the call for a national strategy to implement a nationally coordinated approach to investment in all stages of research to best meet health system needs and health priorities.

Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin welcomed the commitment by Minister Hunt to develop a national strategy in collaboration with the health and medical research sector.

“This is fantastic news for the future of Australian health and medical research. A national strategy will facilitate coordinated investment in research and strengthen the connection between research and healthcare as we move out of pandemic mode and into Covid normal,” Ms Levin said.

Ms Levin said a national strategy, which has been recommended by previous reviews of health and medical research over 15 years, will further support researchers’ capacity to innovate and translate research to improve both health and economic outcomes for Australia.

“Smarter, more strategic investment in health and medical research is the only way to future-proof our health system and secure our nation’s economic productivity.

“Australia can become a regional gateway for the provision of world class medical services and clinical trials, reinforcing our global reputation as the regional flagship health system, helping to improve health outcomes worldwide.”

Research Australia hosted the 18th Annual Health and Medical Research Awards in celebration of the outstanding achievements in health and medical research throughout 2020 and 2021.

The flagship award of the night, the Peter Wills Medal, was awarded to the former Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy, for his outstanding, long-term contribution to building Australia’s reputation in areas of health and medical research and fostering collaboration for better health.

The Vision 2040 National Health and Medical Strategy will be developed over the next year and will become the legacy of Minister Hunt’s successor.

“Our task together, through the 10-year plan for the MRFF, through the Vision 2040 for medical research and the Strategy that comes with that, is to bring cures and treatments earlier to more Australians and more people around the world,” Mr Hunt said.

For more information on a National Health and Medical Research Strategy and related reforms, visit Research Australia’s consultation hub – https://researchaustralia.org/health-and-medical-research-australia-can-do-better/

MEDIA RELEASE – AUSTRALIANS CALL FOR GREATER HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH FUNDING POST-PANDEMIC

5 December 2021

Support for health and medical research funding is at its highest level in more than a decade, with the COVID-19 pandemic prompting Australians to urge policymakers to prioritise research above taking action on climate change, keeping the national economy strong, defence and national infrastructure projects.

A major nationwide survey from peak health and medical research body Research Australia, conducted by Roy Morgan, has found that Australians rank health and medical research in the top three priorities for government, sitting only behind improvements to hospitals and healthcare and improvements to education standards.

More than one-third said the pandemic had prompted them to change their views on the importance of health and medical research and think that more funding should flow to the sector.

The survey – which has been conducted annually since 2003 to gauge Australians’ views – also shows that over 90 per cent of people support vaccination. Of those who did not support vaccination, nearly 8 out of 10 indicated that they would feel more confident about vaccines if they understood more about how they are created and tested, suggesting better education is the key to improving vaccination reach.

Research Australia CEO Nadia Levin said the findings clearly showed how COVID-19 had shaped Australians’ understanding of the enormous impact delivered by health and medical research.

“The pandemic has touched all of us and taken a terrible toll across the world,” Ms Levin said.

“Thanks to vaccines created through unprecedented international collaborations between researchers, hope is now in sight – but we wouldn’t be at this stage without the expertise and hard work of the health and medical research community, and the financial support to enable this enormous response.

“Australians are telling us that health and medical research has to remain a priority for our decision makers post-pandemic, and they’re absolutely right.

“Health and medical research delivers innovations and discoveries which shape all of our lives, improving our healthcare systems and driving breakthroughs in chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

“The Australian health and research sector punches well beyond its weight, but competition for funding is extremely fierce. With additional pressure on Australian universities due to the loss of international students, the risk of losing many of our brightest research minds overseas has magnified.

“As the peak body for Australian health and medical research, representing the entire pipeline from the laboratory to patient and the marketplace, we urge policymakers to closely read these findings and listen to the views of voters.

“Health and medical research must be seen and treated as the critical national capability it is – not only to ensure our health and quality of life, but as a key driver of our economy.”

Please see 2021 Public Opinion Poll on Health and Medical Research here.

Research Australia is the national peak body for Australian health and medical research. 

Media contact: Pia Akerman 0412 346 746