The following are some of the key announcements in the 2016-17 Budget which affect health and medical research. Information has been drawn from the budget papers, including portfolio and agency statements. The Budget papers are available here.
Medical Research Future Fund
The Budget has confirmed the Government’s continued commitment to the MRFF. However, it is now expected to meet the $20 billion target in 2020-21, a year later than first projected in the Budget in 2014 (Note 1). 2019-20 was confirmed as the target date for full capitalisation of the MRFF as recently as December last year, in the NISA Fact Sheet on the Biomedical Translation Fund (Note 2).
Dr Gardner has conducted research in the field of sports concussion for the past eight years. He received first class honours in Psychology (University of New England) and subsequently completed a Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology) degree at Macquarie University, Sydney, where he conducted research in to the acute and cumulative neuropsychological consequences of sport-related concussion. His thesis received the prestigious award for the Most Outstanding Dissertation for 2011 from the National Academy of Neuropsychology (USA). During his post-graduate studies he also pioneered and managed the Macquarie University Sports Concussion Clinic.
Following this Dr Gardner completed his PhD at Newcastle University, studying the potential long-term consequences of participation in collision sports. He has published 16 peer review articles, two book chapters, presented at numerous national and international conferences, and has contributed to the policy papers of Brain Injury Australia and Alzheimer’s Australia (NSW). In 2013 he was invited as a leading early career researcher to contribute to the Australian Academy of Science Theo Murphy High Flyer’s Think Tank on ‘inspiring smarter brain research in Australia’. He was also awarded an Australian Endeavour Research Fellowship to visit Harvard Medical School for four months in 2014. He is the Co-Director of the Hunter New England Sports Concussion Clinic.
Dr Gardner is now focusing on the potential long-term consequences of participation in collision sports. He is attempting to delineate the effect of head trauma as a risk factor for later life neurodegenerative disease by undertaking neuropsychological testing and neuroimaging investigation in active and retired athletes. His current research includes working on assessing retired rugby league players to determine their cognitive, neurological, psychiatric and psychological profiles. He is also currently also working on the video analysis of concussion in the National Rugby League, the first time this has ever been conducted. Dr Gardner created a tool, the Observational Research Analysis of Concussion in League Evaluation (ORACLE), that he is validating to assist club medical staff with recognising/detecting players who may have sustained a concussion (and should be removed from play for further assessment).
The results of the video analysis and the use of the ORACLE will hopefully help prevent concussions by identifying at-risk behaviour, in addition to detecting concussion, which will significantly improve player welfare. He is currently involved with a consortium of researchers from Cardiff University Brain Imaging Research Centre (CUBRIC) in research discussion with the Welsh Government and Welsh Rugby Union to monitor and examine concussed active and retired players. ..
The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are Australia’s most prestigious and highly regarded awards for outstanding achievements in scientific research, research-based innovation and excellence in science teaching.
These awards are presented by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science at a black-tie dinner in the Great Hall.
Welcome to the Autumn issue of Research Australia’s grassROOTS magazine. Activity in our sector has been at fever pitch for a while now and there have been some good outcomes. The National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) was announced by the Prime Minister in early December. Research Australia welcomes this clear focus by our Government on science and innovation as essential to Australia’s future and there is no doubt that health and medical research has an important role to play.
This agenda reconfirmed the importance of the Medical Research Future Fund, it has enabled the set up of a biomedical translation fund to quickly address the funding gap for mid to later stage clinical research and development, and it is also focused on developing a new plan for research infrastructure and championing the importance of STEM subjects such as maths and science, in our education system.
Clinical trials are conducted in human volunteers to test that new drugs, devices and therapies (‘interventions’) are safe and effective. A new compound may kill tumour cells in mice, but will it work effectively in people, and how big a dose is required? Can it be delivered as a tablet, or is an injection more effective? These are some of the questions that can only be answered with a clinical trial. For people with hard to treat diseases, participation in a clinical trial for a new drug may offer the only opportunity for a cure.
Clinical trials also provide the opportunity to compare the effectiveness of existing treatments or practices, to determine if they actually work, and which is best.
Clinical trials in Australia are subject to strict rules to protect participants and ensure the integrity of the trial process, so that the results can be relied on when deciding whether to allow a new intervention to be offered to patients in Australia, or whether existing practices should be changed.