New Priorities released

The second round of Priorities, for the period from 2018 to 2020, were released on 7 November 2018 following a public consultation. These latest Priorities are available here.

First Strategy and Priorities to guide funding

The inaugural 5 year Strategy and 2 year Priorities developed by the MRFF Advisory Board were released on Wednesday 9 November 2016. The Strategy is available here,  and the initial Priorities are available here.

The Strategy

The Strategy’s vison is ‘A health system fully informed by quality health and medical research’ and its Aim is ‘Through strategic investment, to transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability.’

This focus in the vision on the health system is illuminating, and is carried through into the Strategy and Objectives. The objectives underlying this Aim emphasise the importance of creating health and economic benefits, embedding research evidence in healthcare, and driving collaboration and innovation across research and healthcare.

The Strategy itself is new, but provides continuity with existing strategies and programs. It describes the MRFF Strategy as building on the vision outlined in the Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research (the McKeon Review) undertaken in 2012, and seeks to both work with and complement the programs of the NHMRC, the National Innovation and Science Agenda and Innovation and Science Australia.

The Strategy is not seeking to achieve everything- it identifies its role as reinforcing the existing research pipeline and filling in some of the gaps in areas like health services research and the ‘valleys of death’ at the pre-clinical and the post proof-of-concept commercialisation stages.

The Priorities

The Strategy identifies six Strategic Platforms, which in turn provide a framework for the Priorities identified for the first two years. The six Platforms and latest Priorities for the period from 2018-2020 are summarised below.

Strategic and International Horizons

This Platform seeks to position Australia as a leader and collaborator in several key areas of international significance. Two Priorities in this Platform are research to combat antimicrobial resistance and participating in international collaborative efforts to address global health challenges.

The Priorities also tackle two other areas of strategic importance to Australia. The first is  improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through increased indigenous research capacity. The second is research into the diseases of ageing and the means to prolong life.

Data and Infrastructure

This Platform seeks to make better use of existing data and infrastructure. The Priority proposes research initiatives to realise the benefits of healthcare digitalisation

Health Services and Systems

Bolstering health services and systems research is identified by the Strategy as a particular need. Priorities are better informing decisions through comparative effectiveness research; and establishing Practice Based Research Networks to boost primary care research.

Capacity and Collaboration

Skills development of researchers and healthcare professionals and more collaboration across research disciplines and between sectors is identified as critical. The Priorities are:
continuing to increase the research capacity of clinicians; and a program for consumer directed research. The latter will pair researchers to consumers, carers and clinicians to address consumer identified research priorities.

Trials and Translation

Particular attention has given by the Strategy to the role of clinical trials and these featured heavily in the initial Priorities. The new Priorities under this Strategic Platform focus on drug repurposing and research to test Public Helath Interventions for chronic disease.

Commercialisation

Overcoming barriers to research commercialisation will initially be addressed by the new Priority through supporting access to expertise and infrastructure in partnership with industry that seeks to accelerate rapid pre-clinical work and evaluation.

Programs and initiatives already announced

Existing Programs and initiatives established under the first Priorities are expected to continue to be funded in accordance with the announcements made.