MRFF Funding Opportunities
$65 million in grants for research is now available in the first grant opportunity under the Genomics Health Futures Mission. Applications are to be made through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and open on 28 March for genomics research projects in:
- Cancers (including lung cancer and mesothelioma) and diseases with high mortality and low survivability ($15 million);
- Paediatric acute care genomic research for critically ill children ($15 million); and
- Ethical, legal and social issues related to genomics in health care ($3.7 million)
Funding will also be available over four years from 2019-20 to 2022-23 for flagships for pathogen genomics, including infectious respiratory diseases ($32 million). Applications for this program will open on 14 May.
MRFF disbursements for 2018/19
The 2019/20 Budget has confirmed that $222 million is available in 2018/19 and has outlined a program of funding for many areas over multiple years. Detailed below are the amounts that have been allocated so far for 2018/19.
- On 10 April the Health Minister announced $10 million in MRFF funding to support the Menzies Multiple Sclerosis Flagship Program. The funding aims to improve the quality of life for the more than 25,000 Australians living with MS by conducting research into cures and prevention of the disease.
- On 9 April, as part of the announcement of the National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030, the Minister for Health announced $20 million in MRFF funding for ovarian cancer research. The Minister also announced $9 million for endometriosis research. This is in addition to MRFF funding for endometriosis research announced in July 2018. A further $1.06 million will be provided from outside the MRFF to ‘…enable a ‘one-stop shop’ for endometriosis information and resources. It will also be used as a treatment tool that will refine effective treatments for endometriosis based on patient feedback and be a vehicle for promoting and supporting collaborative research.’
- On 13 March, the Government committed $150 million in MRFF funding over 10 years to a new Australian Stem Cell Therapies Mission. It will be co-chaired by Stem Cells Australia program leader Professor Melissa Little and inventor of the Nanopatch Professor Mark Kendall.
- On 10 March the Health Minister announced $150 million over 10 years for nationally coordinated medical research to improve the recovery of patients with a traumatic brain injury.
- On 8 March the Health Minister announced $55,000 in funding to Griffith University to trial a new malaria vaccine, PlasProtect©. The funding matches $500,000 raised by Rotary Health towards the Malaria Vaccine Project, which has developed the new vaccine.
- On 27 February the Government announced a 10 year, $160 million Indigenous Health Research Fund. The 3 Flagship Priorities are preventing rheumatic disease, avoidable blindness and avoidable deafness. Research projects will have a broad remit across five key themes – guaranteeing a healthy start to life, improving primary healthcare, overcoming the origins of inequality in health, reducing the burden of disease, and addressing emerging challenges.
The Program incorporates the $35 million already announced for the End Rheumatic Heart Disease vaccine initiative. An advisory panel comprising prominent Indigenous research experts and community leaders, co-chaired by Professor Alex Brown (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) and Dr Misty Jenkins (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research), will guide the Indigenous Health Research Fund investments.
- On 26 February, the Government announced a 10 year, $220 million Mission for Cardiovascular Health. The Mission will be overseen by an appointed expert advisory panel chaired by Professor Gemma Figtree, a clinician researcher at University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, and will provide open and contestable grant opportunities. ‘It will aim to reduce hospitalisations, develop clinical trials and new drug therapies, use the unique DNA of a patient to develop new therapies and also look into why people who don’t lead an unhealthy lifestyle or have a genetic cause suffer heart attacks.’ This Mission includes the recently announced $20 million in funding to help defeat congenital heart disease by better understanding genetic causes and treatment options through the HeartKids Project.
- On 24 February the Government announced $35 million would be provided over three years to the End Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) vaccine initiative. Directed by Prof Jonathan Carapetis AM (Director of the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth) and overseen by a Scientific Advisory Board including leading Australian and International experts, the initiative will allow manufacture and testing of a number of vaccines currently in development, and fast-tracking and funding of clinical trials in Australia. The aim is to accelerate availability of a vaccine for use in Australia and internationally. The vaccine targets Group A Streptococcus and will build on the work of the Australia and New Zealand joint CANVAS initiative. Rheumatic Heart Disease is a chronic and debilitating condition, affecting heart function, which develops following repeated Strep A infections. Largely a third world disease, it is endemic in some Australian and Torres Strait Islander communities. Alarmingly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 64 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to develop rheumatic heart disease, and nearly 20 times as likely to die from it.
- On 17 February the Government announced $22.3 million of MRFF funding over four years to MTPConnect to operate the new Biomedical Translation Bridge initiative. MTPConnect will partner with BioCurate (University of Melbourne and Monash University) and UniQuest (University of Queensland). This program will support researchers to develop their ideas and transform them into new treatments and technologies to improve patient outcomes. Successful research projects will receive between $200,000 and $1 million over a maximum of three years. A call for applications is expected later this year, with further calls every six months.
- On 15 February, the Minister for Health announced the latest round of funding for the Rare Diseases and Rare Cancers Program. $38.6 million will support 23 new clinical trials to improve treatments and discover cures for debilitating and deadly rare cancers and rare diseases.
- On 14 February, the Government announced a $20 million competitive research grant round focusing on congenital heart disease. The grants will be administered by the NHMRC and a call for application is expected to be made shortly for research aimed at better understanding the disease’s genetic causes and prevention and treatment options.
The announcement is part of a broader package of funding for a National Action Plan, including $6 million from outside the MRFF to the HeartKids charity for teaching, training, and awareness.
- On 12 February, the Government announced the Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry Initiative (REDI). The objective of the program is to provide researchers with a diverse range of experiences and exposure to entrepreneurism with the aim of strengthening Australia’s success with translation and commercialisation to prevent, diagnose and treat disease. $32 million is available over four years. The Government is initially seeking applications from organisations interested in administering the program.
- On 6 February the Government announced a total of $20 million in funding for two different phenomics-based projects to support precision medicine. $10 million in funding is being provided to the Australian National Phenome Centre at Murdoch University. A partnership involving University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University, University of Notre Dame Australia and Edith Cowan University, the Centre is Australia’s first dedicated metabolic phenotyping laboratory and a hub within an international network of compatible centres. A further $10 million in funding over two years is being provided to the Australian National University (ANU) for the Phenomics Translation Initiative, a two year program to develop new diagnostic and treatment options for people living with chronic and debilitating diseases including lupus, type 1 diabetes and age-related macular degeneration.
- On 4 February the Government announced a total of $54.5 million in funding for research over three years into Type 1 Diabetes. $25 million will be provided to JDRF in ongoing support of its JDRF Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network. JDRF’s research program has received ongoing support from successive ALP and coalition governments, and the ALP has also pledged further funding for the Research Network if it wins the next election. There is a further $4.5 million over three years to support JDRF’s administration and leadership of the research network. $25 million of the $125 million Targeted Translation Research Accelerator initiative will also be directed to diabetes research.
On 30 January, the Government announced $30 million in funding over 5 years to the Garvan Institute as the lead institution in the Australian Parkinson’s Mission. The funding is for the trial of promising drugs to reduce the progression of the disease and allow people to live in their homes longer. Mission is an international research collaboration between the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Shake it Up Australia Foundation, The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, Michael J Fox Foundation and Parkinson’s Australia.
- On 14 January, the Government announced it is making a $25 million contribution to the new Drug Discovery Centre at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI). The Centre, which is co-funded by WEHI, the Victorian Government and philanthropy, will open in June 2019.
- A 10 year, $180 million Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission was announced by the Minister for Health on 18 December. Its focus will be on:
- diagnosis, treatment and prevention of dementia;
- falls prevention; and
- assistive technologies.
The first funding, of $10 million, has been awarded to The Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research at the University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute, a Research Australia member. No call for grant applications has been made at this point.
- On 4 December, the Minister for Health announced $3 million in funding for a research program for stillbirth research, to be guided by a National Action and Implementation Plan. There is also $3 million for stillbirth education and awareness programs. This funding is part of the Government’s response to the report of the Senate Select Committee on Stillbirth Education and Research.
- On 22 October the Prime Minister announced $4 million in funding to the St George and Sutherland Medical Research Facility to better understand the human microbiota. $2 million of this funding will be drawn from the MRFF. The funding boost will ‘help researchers better understand how restoring the balance of microbiota through, for example, eating a healthy diet and increasing physical exercise, can prevent and cure disease. This funding will also support a new study into the role of the microbiome in pregnancy and its outcomes in the mothers and their babies.’ It follows $4 million in funding from the Commonwealth in 2017 to establish the Microbiome Research Centre at St George Hospital, due to open in February 2019.
- $11.5 million is available for the The MRFF – Keeping Australians Out of Hospital Grants to support research into evidence-based, implementable and scalable preventive health measures that aim to prevent the development, or promote better management of complex and chronic health conditions, improve quality of life for people with these conditions and keep them out of hospital.
- On 6 October the Minister for Health announced $1 million in funding to the National Stroke Foundation for the Return to Life, Return to Work research package. The research will focus on rehabilitation for working age people, and include a clinical trial of Perispinal Etanercept to reduce inflammation in the brain.
- On 11 September, $10 million in funding for six new Clinical Trials was announced, targeting: pancreatic cancer; traumatic brain injury; rare skin tumours; myeloma; myelofibrosis; anda pioneering treatment for high mortality cancers, such as glioblastoma. The funding has been awarded to researchers at LaTrobe University, Monash University, University of Melbourne, and the University of Sydney.
- On 6 September, the Minister for Heath announced the creation of the Prostate Cancer Research Alliance, which will focus on stopping prostate cancer progressing to advanced, more deadly stages; and improving treatments and life expectancy for men with advanced prostate cancer. The MRFF’s Accelerated Research Program will contribute $2 million per year for three years from 2018/19, matched by $6 million from the Movember Foundation. Funding will be provided through an open, national, competitive grant round, expected to open by the end of October.
- On 13 August, The Minister for Health announced $7.4 million in funding from the MRFF for a range of Fellowships. These will support researchers working on a range of issues, including improved care for premature and sick babies, arthritis and osteoporosis, online treatments for youth depression and anxiety and improved health for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- On 1 August 2018, the Minister for Health announced $3 million for stem cell research, including projects that aim to tackle congenital heart disease and genetic defects that cause blindness in children. The funding is from the MRFF Accelerated Research Program.
- On 26 July, the Minister for Health launched the National Action Plan for Endometriosis. As part of this, he provided further informant about how the $2.5 million of funding from the MRFF, announced in March 2018, will be utilised. It will fund a targeted call for research; a national clinical trials network; and an Australian Collaborative Research Framework.
- On 25 July, Minister Hunt announced that $3.6 million of the $5 million allocated to CanTeen in 2017 would be used to run four clinical trials which will support 260 patients with brain cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and bone cancer.
- On 22 July 2018, the Health Minister announced that $1 million would be provided to Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision. The funding will ‘support at least three new medical researchers over three years to undertake vital research and clinical trials in Australia into better treatments and ultimately cure for bone marrow failure.’
- On 17 July, the Minister announced $6.1 million was being allocated to the South Australian Academic Health Science and Translation Centre, which is undertaking vital research projects in areas such as bowel cancer, cardiac rehabilitation and reducing the risk of preterm births.
- On 16 July 2018, the Health Minister announced that $5 million from the Australian Brain Cancer Mission, which is funded by the MRFF and philanthropy will go to the Zero Childhood Brain Cancer Initiative, itself a part of the broader Zero Childhood Cancer Initiative. The initiative is a collaboration of Australian researchers and clinicians, led by the Children’s Cancer Institute and The Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick.
- On 13 July 2018, the Minister for Health announced that $22.3 million will be available over four years from 2018-19 through the Biomedical Translation Bridge grant opportunity. It will support one or more organisations to fund and nurture early stage health and medical research ventures to reach proof-of-concept stage with potential to attract further capital and support.
- On 3 July 2018, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced $6 million in funding over three years for Sydney Partnership for Health Education Research and Enterprise (SPHERE) and the same amount to Sydney Health Partners. These organisations are Advanced Health Research Translation Centres and the funding is part of the Rapid Applied Research Translation Initiative under the MRFF.
- On 24 June 2018, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced $33 million in funding to the third round of the Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need Clinical Trials Program. The applications are administered by the NHMRC and close on 15 August 2018.
MRFF disbursements for 2017/18
$121 million is available for allocation from the MRFF in 2017/18. Announcements for the 2017/18 financial year are detailed below.
- On 18 June 2017, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced $2 million in funding to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation with a focus on four priority areas including the making of early diagnosis and treatment of cerebral palsy the standard of care in Australia, clinical trials of new interventions in high risk infants, a trial of TheraSuit® intensive therapy and new therapies to prevent cerebral palsy during pregnancy.
- On 14 June, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced the MRFF will provide $2.4 million to the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Excellence in Rural and Regional Health in Burnie.
- On 4 June, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced that as part of the Big Freeze 4 fundraising event at the MCG, the Coalition Government will match donations, dollar-for-dollar, up to $2 million to invest in new clinical trials for Australians suffering from MND. This repeats the funding provided from the MRFF in 2017.
- On 16 May, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced $6.1 million for Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre, enabling it to build on research it has already undertaken in areas such as data linkage, women’s and children’s health, cancer, diabetes, infections, heart disease and many more areas of health. The funding from the MRFF builds on an earlier $2.22 million grant provided to the Centre through the MRFF.
- On 14 May, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt, announced that $6.1 million would be made available to Melbourne Academic Centre for Health (MACH), with the funding going towards further research in a number of different areas that are yet to be determined.
- On 13 April The Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie, announced $6.1 million has been awarded to Diamantina Health Partners over three years for a range of programs to support the translation of research into healthcare. Diamantina Partners is an NHMRC designated Advanced Health Research Translation Centre, and this funding is provided as part of the ongoing funding to AHRTCs and Centres for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRHs).
- On 21 March the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced NSW Regional Health Partners, one of two NHMRC designated Centres for innovation in Regional Health, will receive $6.1 million over 3 years from the MRFF to fund translational research into strategies to improve the delivery of care. Examples given include investigating best practice models for telehealth and aged care, and changing community behaviour through healthy weight strategies.
- Marking National Close the Gap Day on 15 March, the Minister for Health announced MRFF funding of $6 million over three years to the Central Australian Academic Health Science Centre (CAAHSC). The CAAHSC was recognised in July last year by the NHMRC as a Centre for Innovation in Regional Health, and has an emphasis on Indigenous-led and community controlled research. This funding is provided as part of the Rapid Applied Research Translation Program, designed to support the translational research efforts of the seven Advanced Health Research Translation Centres and the two Centres for Innovation in Regional Health. It follows the announcement last year of MRFF funding of $10 million under this Program to the Academic Health Research and Translation Centres.
- On 6 March 2018, the Minister for Health announced a National ‘million minds’ Health Mission, focussing on mental health, to be funded from the MRFF. The plan for the Mission is to be developed ‘over the next six months’, including details of what the MRFF will fund.
- $2.5 million will be available for a targeted call for research onto the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis. The funding was announced by the Health Minister on 2 March 2018 as part of the Government’s development of a National Action Plan for Endometriosis. The funding forms part of the Accelerated Research Program within the MRFF, designed to stimulate targeted research in areas of identified unmet need.
- $70 million over 5 years from 2017/18 for the Next Generation Clinical Researchers Program. $10 million of this will be available from the 2017/18 disbursements for Fellowships. commencing in 2019, rising to $20 million in subsequent years. This funding is in addition to the $8 million in funding for Fellowships announced in 2016/17, and which commenced in 2018. On January 18 2018 the Minister announced 21 Next Generation Clinical Research Fellowships, worth a total of $10 million.
- $50 million from the MRFF, to be matched dollar for dollar by philanthropy will be available over multiple years from 2017/18 for the Australian Brain Cancer Mission. Prioritised first investments include the establishment of an Australian arm of the GBM AGILE, an international adaptive trial platform for adults with glioblastoma, new funding for Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) clinical trial centres, and support for the consolidation of the national ZERO Children’s Cancer initiative.
- A further $30 million in funding will be allocated to the Biotech Horizons Program over the next four financial years. This builds on the initial $5 million allocated in 2016/17 which is being administered by MTPConnect. On 17 April, MTPConnect and the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP announced the first 11 recipients of $10 million. The funding round focused on supporting cutting-edge ideas in precision medicine and 3D anatomical printing towards proof-of-concept and commercialisation.
- On 24 January 2018 the Minister announced that $26 million in funding has been awarded to 19 projects as part of the Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Needs Clinical Trials Program (formerly the Lifting Clinical Trials and Registries Program). Initially announced in 2016/17 as $13 million over four years, this announcement has doubled the initial allocation. The clinical trails are across the areas of rare cancer, rare disease and unmet need. A further $10 million targeted grant round for clinical trials into Low Survival Cancers and Diseases (LSCD) was announced, and closed in April 2018.
MRFF disbursements for 2016/17
$65.9 million is available for the allocation from 2016/17
- $8 million is to be allocated across the four pre-existing NHMRC Advanced Health Research Translation Centres (something Research Australia has advocated for over a year). Of this amount, Monash Partners AHRTC is receiving $2 million for research and initiatives to improve care in blood and lung cancer, cardiovascular disease diabetes dementia, and improve influenza vaccination rates. Sydney Health Partners AHRTC has been allocated $2.2 million for three programs, to address lower back pain, improve recruitment for clinical trials, and address gaps in the health system. Detail of the other AHRTCs’ research programs has yet to be announced.
- $2 million to support new and existing Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres (AHRTCs) and the two soon-to-be-announced Centres for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRHs) to work together on national system-level initiatives. Of this amount, $225,000 has been allocated to the recently announced Diamantina Partners AHRTC, and $225,000 to the newly announced The SPHERE (Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise) AHRTC. A further $225,000 has been allocated to NSW Regional Health Partners, a freshly minted CIRH.
- $10 million in funding will be provided to The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (TAPCC) to generate effective low-cost solutions to address chronic disease and childhood obesity. On 1 February 2018, the Health Minster announced funding of more than $500,000 for the first of the projects under the Boosting Prevention Program, a research program by Professor Fiona Blyth AM into better management of chronic pain in primary care. On 15 March 2018, the Minister announced that $740,000 had been awarded to University of Queensland researchers to undertake a world-first project, in collaboration with Aboriginal communities, to find ways to improve Aboriginal food security and dietary intake in cities and remote areas.
- $5 million for new targeted clinical trial activity for adolescents and young adults with cancer, to be administered by CanTeen.
- $13 million over four years to increase clinical trials and registries’ capacity (the Lifting Clinical Trials and Registries Capacity Program). This includes funding for networks of investigators and service providers that work together, to identify and evaluate new approaches that will optimise healthcare effectiveness. A targeted call for funding applications is being administered by NHMRC, with funding to commence in January 2018. Funding of $1.2 million to the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and $500,000 to University of Melbourne was was announced on 18 January 2018 for two clinical trials for treatment for ataxia. On 24 January 2018 the Minister announced that the total allocation has been increased from $13 million to $26 million in response to the quality of the applications received. 19 projects have been funded, including the two ataxia projects announced a week earlier. These are across the areas of rare cancer, rare disease and unmet need.
- $5 million over four years to the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA) as the national alliance partner to build the capacity of clinical trials networks.
- $8 million to boost the scale of three existing NHMRC Fellowship schemes- Career Development Fellowships, (early to mid-career researchers in clinical, population health, biomedical and bioinformatics fields); Translating Research into Practice Fellowships (health professionals translating evidence into healthcare and public health improvements) and Practitioner Fellowships (implementing evidence-based practice among clinical, public health and health service professionals). Fellowship awards will be announced from early 2017-18.
- $2 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a new international initiative to address critical research and development gaps for pandemic preparedness and global health security.
- $5.9 million for antimicrobial resistance to address knowledge gaps in relation to the development and spread of resistance; and the development of new products, including diagnostic technologies and therapies, policies and approaches to prevent, detect and respond to resistance. (Targeted call for funding applications being administered by NHMRC, with funding to commence in January 2018.)
- $5 million to establish the Biotech Horizons program, to provide early stage pre-clinical support for biotechnologies.
- $2 million to Cure4MND for clinical trials for adults with MND. This amount was provided as matching funding to public donations to Cure4MND’s ‘Big Freeze 3’ fundraising campaign.