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

MEDIA RELEASE – AUSTRALIA’S HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH SECTOR PAYS TRIBUTE TO MINISTER GREG HUNT

December 2021

Research Australia, the national alliance for Australian health and medical research, has thanked the Hon Greg Hunt MP for his incredible 20-year service as the Member for Flinders and his extraordinary commitment to health and medical research during his time as Minister for Health and Aged Care. 

Research Australia CEO, Nadia Levin said, “Minister Hunt has been unequivocal in his support for the health and medical research community, and we have been delighted to call him a true friend to the health and medical research sector. 

“Research Australia has been pleased to work side by side with Minister Hunt on a range of initiatives in support of health and medical research, including development of the $570 million Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Frontiers Fund. 

“It was under Minister Hunt’s watch that the MRFF reached full capitalisation and we have been pleased to watch that important stream of funding mature. We continue to strive for a fund which truly delivers research that meets the needs of the health system” 

Minister Hunt has demonstrated immense dedication, determination and personal commitment to keeping the population safe during the pandemic in incredibly difficult circumstances. Importantly, he has put expertise and advice of our health and medical research community at the forefront of our response. 

“It is prior investments in health and medical research, like the MRFF, which the Minister has championed, that have enabled Australia to respond so ably in our time of crisis,” Ms Levin said. 

Research Australia looks forward to building on Minister Hunt’s legacy and continuing to work with his successor on the challenges and opportunities facing the health and medical research community, including national coordination of the multiple streams of funding for health and medical research through a National Health and Medical Research Strategy. 

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

Further information on the range of reforms Research Australia is driving is available via the Research Australia Consultation Hub. 

Media contact: Peta Garrett, Senior Government Relations Adviser, 0400 011 394 

New MRFF Strategy 2021-2026

Research Australia welcomes the release of the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy 2021-2026, which sets clear objectives to support and foster Australian HMR to meet future health needs. This is a definitive step towards tackling the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic so that we emerge with a stronger health and medical research sector, capable of delivering better health and economic prosperity for Australians. Research Australia’s consultation Health and Medical Research – Australia can do better! seeks your input on how we do this. Visit our consultation hub and let us know your views on the key reform areas here.

For more information about the MRFF Strategy and Priorities, visit our webpage here.

Sector support for Patent Box

As the national peak for the whole of the health and medical research pipeline, Research Australia was pleased to convene a broad cross-section of health innovators including Medicines AustraliaAusBiotech, and the BioMelbourne Network to develop a unified position on the Patent Box tax treatment. Together we have issued the following joint statement.

Joint Statement of support for an Australian Patent Box

Australia’s health innovators support the introduction of a Patent Box, and we welcome this initiative by the Australian Government. With the right policy settings, a Patent Box will ensure Australian discoveries in health are developed here, ensuring Australia captures the opportunity for new industries and jobs in health innovation. We look forward to working with Treasury to ensure the design of the patent box adequately incentivises Australian health innovators to develop and manufacture their ideas onshore.

This collective statement is made by Research Australia, Medicines Australia, AusBiotech, BioMelbourne Network and the Medical Technology Association of Australia. In short, we represent a broad cross-section of health innovators. Our combined membership conducts most health-related research and development (R&D) activities in Australia with the objective of discovering and delivering better health outcomes and an enhanced health system for Australian patients and the world. This membership includes universities, research institutes, consumers, and small, medium and large companies.

What is a Patent Box?

A Patent Box is a tax concession that provides a lower tax rate for income derived from certain forms of intellectual property (IP), typically patents. The policy goal of patent boxes is to promote R&D and the commercialisation of IP.

Key Points

  • We strongly support the introduction of a Patent Box in Australia. Many of us have advocated for the introduction of a Patent Box for several years.
  • We acknowledge the need for the design of the Patent Box to be consistent with the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS) Action 5 Minimum Standard.
  • The UK’s patent box provides a model for Australia which is superior in many ways to the model proposed in the Australian Treasury’s Discussion Paper.
  • The Government should establish an expert working group with industry representation to support the design and implementation of the Patent Box.

Download the joint statement here.

Research Australia will continue to work with the Government and the Treasury to support the further design and implementation of the patent box.

Research Australia’s submission in response to the Treasury consultation is available here.

Research Australia monitoring important new MRFF legislation

The Government introduced the Investment Funds Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 into Parliament on 25 August. If passed, it will, among other things, fix the amount of funding disbursed from the MRFF for five years at $650 million per annum. At the end of the five-year period, the investment performance of the MRFF will be assessed to determine if sufficient earnings have accumulated over the period to raise the annual rate of disbursement. This five-year review period will become a permanent feature of the MRFF.

The MRFF 10-year Investment Plan introduced by the Government in the 2019 Budget has allocated roughly $550 million per annum over the period to 2027-28. The proposed legislative change will allow these commitments to be met, while providing approximately $100 million per annum for new commitments and programs.

This change is about reducing the volatility in MRFF disbursements that arises because of the link to annual investment returns. This volatility caused the Government to tip in $175 million to MRFF disbursements in December last year to keep the MRFF 10-year Plan on track.

Research Australia will be closely monitoring performance of the MRFF and continuing to advocate for fund growth to mirror the growth of the health and medical research sector. While fixing the disbursements, as is proposed by the legislation, provides certainty as to how much we can expect to see disbursed from the MRFF every year, we are seeking clarity as to whether this amount will be indexed. At a bare minimum, the MRFF should keep pace with inflation. Research Australia members remain concerned that other key funding streams like the ARC and NHMRC are not indexed to CPI, meaning they don’t keep pace with inflation and, in real terms, are funds in decline.

The Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee is undertaking an Inquiry into the Bill and is due to report back to the Senate by 14 October.

For further information or to contribute to Research Australia’s submission, please contact Lucy Clynes, General Manager at lucy.clynes@researchaustralia.org

MEDIA RELEASE – NOBEL LAUREATE PROFESSOR BRIAN SCHMIDT AC APPOINTED TO THE BOARD OF RESEARCH AUSTRALIA

July 2021

The nation’s peak body for health and medical research and innovation, Research Australia, has welcomed Australian National University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian Schmidt AC, FRS, FAA, to its Board.

Chair of Research Australia, Associate Professor Annette Schmiede said, “as the national peak body for the whole health and medical research pipeline, our Board includes leaders from across our membership. As a major figure in science and academia, Brian’s contribution to our strategic focus of health and medical research advocacy, will be invaluable.”

“The opportunity to leverage Australia’s outstanding research capability and research excellence is now, and strong sector leadership is essential to fulfilling that potential. I therefore welcome Professor Schmidt with his distinguished record and commitment to further the advancement of a high performing research sector for Australia.”

Professor Schmidt said “research improves the world every day. It builds the products, industries and jobs of tomorrow. It helps us find solutions for the significant challenges plaguing our planet. It builds societies and economies that are more just and equitable. And it makes us understand the world around us and our place in it. I am honoured to be joining the board of Research Australia and look forward to working with the team to help promote the vital role and positive impact research has every day for all Australians.” 

Research Australia’s CEO, Nadia Levin said Professor Schmidt’s appointment reflects our recognition that much of Australian health and medical research is conducted in our universities, and that, crucially, it is reliant on the broader scientific research endeavour.

“Ensuring that Australia’s people continue to enjoy good health and a quality of life means we must make greater use of our research outcomes to drive greater health and economic impact. Professor Schmidt’s experience and standing will greatly add to these efforts.”

Biography

Appointed the 12th Vice-Chancellor of ANU in January 2016.

Winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics 

Professor Schmidt makes a significant contribution to public debate through the media, and via his membership of bodies including the Prime Minister’s National Science and Technology Council. 

Professor Schmidt received undergraduate degrees in Astronomy and Physics from the University of Arizona in 1989, and completed his Astronomy Master’s degree (1992) and PhD (1993) at Harvard University. Under his leadership, in 1998, the High-Z Supernova Search team made the startling discovery that the expansion rate of the Universe is accelerating. Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, The United States Academy of Science, and the Royal Society, he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2013. Professor Schmidt has spent most of his academic career as an astrophysicist at the ANU Mount Stromlo Observatory and Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 

Research Australia is the national peak body for Australian health and medical research and innovation. www.researchaustralia.org. 

Contact: Sally Shepherd, Research Australia on 0413 772 285 or sally.shepherd@researchaustralia.org 

Health and Medical Research Awards Finalist, Professor Brett Mitchell, featured in the Newcastle Herald

Research Australia welcomed the Newcastle Herald article featuring Professor Brett Mitchell’s UTI research which will reduce patient infection risk in Australian hospitals and save health services money.

Professor Brett Mitchell, an infection control expert, has found that using antiseptic before inserting a catheter reduces the risk of urinary tract infection in hospitals.

Click here to read the full article on the Newcastle Herald’s website.

Clearing the pathway for global clinical trials 

Australia’s world-class research community and strong health system, along with low COVID-19 infection rates, should be a beacon, positioning Australia as the preferred global destination for clinical trials.

We have been working with our members from across the pipeline including Novo Nordisk, GSK, PRAXIS Australia and many others to shine a light on the opportunities (and address the challenges) to attract global clinical trials to Australia.

It is fitting that today on International Clinical Trials Day, Research Australia is pleased to publish our report;

Clearing the pathway for global clinical trials

Improving the environment for clinical trials enables Australian patients to benefit from the latest medicines and technologies developed both in Australia and overseas. It also helps Australian health and medical research to flourish in a competitive and lucrative world market.

This report outlines how we can unlock Australia’s potential through 7 key areas:

  1. A world-first, national approach to decentralised clinical trials
  2. Developing a ‘one-stop-shop’ for clinical trial approvals
  3. How to cost and budget for clinical trials
  4. Demonstrating Australia’s high-quality clinical trials capacity to the world
  5. Incorporating health data into Australia’s clinical trial system
  6. The world’s most highly skilled clinical trials workforce 
  7. Working with consumers to build better clinical trials

To read and/or download the report please click here.