Academy welcomes publication of Medical Research Future Fund Priorities

The Academy is delighted to see the publication of the second set of Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Priorities, which will determine how the fund is spent over the next two years. The MRFF is a $20 billion vehicle that aims to transform health and medical research and innovation in Australia.

The Academy’s President Elect, Professor Ingrid Scheffer, welcomed the announcement, saying: ‘The MRFF presents a huge opportunity for Australia to grow its health and medical research and innovation so that we can remain competitive on the world stage. The priorities that have been announced set out a clear path for the next two years, which will see funding channelled through grants, fellowships, clinical trials and other mechanisms across a range of fields. They address some of the most pressing health challenges facing Australia today, meaning this investment will ultimately help to improve the health of individuals across Australia, as well as delivering wider economic benefits.’

The MRFF was established under the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015. It is anticipated that the fund will reach full maturity by 2021, by which point it will provide up to $1 billion for research and innovation each year. The aim of the MRFF is to deliver strategic investments that transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability.

It is governed by the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board (AMRAB), which develops a five-yearly Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy and a two-yearly set of Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities. The government must take the Strategy and the Priorities into consideration when making decisions about how MRFF funding is invested.

The first set of priorities covered the period 2016-2018. The 2018-2020 priorities now published will determine how funding is awarded over the next two years, and they are organised under the six existing strategic platforms, as follows:

Strategic and International Horizons

  • One health – antimicrobial resistance
  • Global health and health security
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • Ageing and aged care

Data and Infrastructure

  • Digital health intelligence

Health Services and Systems

  • Comparative effectiveness research
  • Primary care research

Capacity and Collaboration

  • Clinical researcher capacity
  • Consumer-driven research

Trials and Translation

  • Drug repurposing
  • Public health interventions

Commercialisation:

  • Translational research infrastructure

The Academy has been supporting the Department to develop a methodology for priority-setting under the MRFF and we welcome the publication of these latest priorities. The full Priorities document is available here.

2017 Scientific Meeting & Induction of New Fellows

On 19 October 2017, the Australian Academy of Science welcomed 49 newly elected Fellows of the Academy.  for their outstanding contributions to science and scientific research.

Fellows are elected in recognition of significant and sustained contribution to the science of health. The breadth and depth of talent amongst the new Fellows is testimony to the outstanding contributions that Australian scientists and health care professionals continue to make to the global efforts to prevent and manage disease, and to improve the health of the community.

Download the media release including the list of new Fellows here.

 

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Photos from the Annual Fellows' Dinner and Induction of New Fellows

For further information, please contact AAHMS support on:
[email protected] or phone 0400 428 224

NHMRC Grant Funding Program: Changes Announced

Today, President of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and Chair of the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, Professor Ian Frazer AC, joined the Minister for Health and Sport, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, and Professor Steven Wesselingh, chair of the review Expert Advisory Group and Academy Fellow at Parliament House, to hear Professor Anne Kelso AO, Chief Executive Officer of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) announce significant changes to the structure of the NHMRC’s grant program.

The NHMRC undertook a Structural Review in response to calls from the research sector to reduce the unsustainable burden on grant applicants and peer reviewers. Through the improvements to its grant funding program, the NHMRC intend to ensure continued support for Australia’s world-leading health and medical researchers. The restructured grant funding program will be implemented in late 2018 – early 2019, for peer review during 2019 and funding in 2020.

The Academy commends the vision, which has driven the development of the revised funding program. Five year funding of successful career researchers’ applications, and of innovative research programs tackled by individual researchers or by synergistic groups, will provide enhanced opportunity for research productivity.  It will encourage higher risk, high potential gain research, and will enable younger investigators to show their talent.  The restructure of the Investigator funding scheme should also allow clinician researchers with clinical commitments to fund dedicated time to direct their research program. Overall, the burden of application for funds should also be considerably reduced.  All of these measures will contribute synergistically with the increased funding for Health and Medical Research through the disbursements from the Medical Research Future Fund, and should result in increased research output, and increased potential for translation of that research output into better health for Australia and globally.

 Download Media Release PDF here

For further information, please contact:
AAHMS support on: [email protected] or phone 0400 428 224.

2017 Federal Budget

The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences is pleased to note the important commitments that are made to the healthcare sector in the recent budget. The quality of life of Australians is of prime importance, as are the economic consequences of illness.  With the growing costs of treatments, the Academy welcomes the emphasis on prevention and sees this as a theme that has to be consolidated in all of our activities.  The budget also addresses crucial problems for society including mental health and paediatric cancers.

Of specific note from the perspective of the Academy is the initial expenditure arising from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).  The target of these awards, for example to the Advanced Health and Translation Centres, adds a new source of support for crucial activities with improvements for patients and with an emphasis on translating research findings into better health outcomes.  The MRFF now sits as a growing source of funding to compliment that of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). It is noted that the NHMRC maintains its funding but against a backdrop of rising costs, and thus the pressures on it to meet the demands and needs of the research community will remain under strain.  We anticipate that the combination of the MRFF and the NHMRC will result in some pressures being removed from the NHMRC, such that funding for the whole spectrum of research from basic science through to clinical application and population health can be delivered.


Download the Statement here

For further information, please contact:
AAHMS support on [email protected]

457 Visas and Australia’s Global Competitiveness
in Health and Medical Research

Australia’s reputation for quality health research, and for commercially valuable health research translation, is dependent on recruitment of the best and brightest research talent from the global research community. The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences notes that skilled applicants for vacancies in several disciplines in health and medical research are hard to fill, and that filling vacant research positions with less than the best available applicants would disadvantage Australia’s international competitiveness in health and medical research.

The Academy observes that the proposed alterations to the skilled labour visa scheme, replacing the 457 visa with two visas with different qualification requirements, will apparently in future exclude granting of such visas for life scientists, a professional job category highly relevant to health and medical research.

The Academy hopes that the proposed changes to the visa scheme will not adversely impact on recruitment of the talent that will continue to support Australia’s international competitiveness in research and research commercialization.

Professor Ian Frazer AC, President of the Academy, speaking on behalf of the Academy council, said today: “The Academy encourages implementation of mechanisms to prevent any unanticipated consequences for Australia’s global competitiveness in health and medical research and its commercialization that might follow from the proposed 457 visa changes.”

For further information, please contact:
AAHMS support on: [email protected] or phone 0400 428 224.

Download Media Release PDF here

AAHMS Welcomes New Health and Industry Innovation and Science Ministers

The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS) congratulates the Hon Greg Hunt MP on his appointment as Health Minister and welcomes the announcement of Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO to the Industry, Innovation & Science portfolio.

“The Academy is delighted that Minister Hunt will bring his expertise from his previous ministerial responsibility of Industry, Innovation and Science to Health, where progress through research is key to an effective and affordable health service for all Australians,” said AAHMS President Professor Ian Frazer AC.

“We look forward to working with Minister Hunt and his department to ensure that Australians continue to benefit from a quality and research informed health system, and that Australia contributes to global health through research,”

“Fellows of the Academy have already contributed to the development of Strategies and Priorities for the effective use of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). We look forward to continued engagement of our 280 fellows, experts across all areas of health and medical science, in the process of prioritising the future use of MRFF funds to achieve the objectives set by government with bipartisan support.”

Professor Frazer also welcomed the appointment of Senator Arthur Sinodinos as the new Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.

“Senator Sinodinus has voiced strong support for health and medical research in Australia, identifying it as one of the competitive strengths of our nation, “ said Professor Frazer.  “We are very encouraged by Senator Sinodinus’ acknowledgement of the benefits of the MRFF and the need to address the priorities identified in the 2013 Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research (the McKeon Report).”

Professor Frazer also congratulated the Hon Ken Wyatt MP, the first Indigenous person to have been elected to the House of Representatives, on his promotion to Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health.

“The Academy’s mission is to promote health and medical research and its translation to enable a healthier community and health equality for all Australians, and we look to working with Minister Wyatt toward this aim, which will be a focus of the Academy’s 2017 scientific meeting in Adelaide” said Professor Frazer.

Professor Frazer also thanked outgoing Health Minister Sussan Ley for her support of health and medical research in Australia.

“Ms Ley helped to launch the Academy in 2015 and was a strong advocate for the MRFF and the need for priority-driven research,“ Professor Frazer said. “We wish her well in the future.”

For further information, please contact:
AAHMS Support on: [email protected] or phone 0400 428 224.

Download Media Release PDF here

Second Scientific Meeting & Induction of New Fellows

The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS) held its second Annual Scientific Meeting at Translational Research Institute in Brisbane today.  The meeting theme, “Bench to Bed and Back Again” reflects the needs to ‘join up’ the wide range of disciplines involved in health and medical research in Australia. Better health care can be delivered by a closer integration between research, education and clinical care. Australia has a strong track record in biomedical research, and outstanding clinical care – however we appreciate that linkages between the ‘bench’ and the ‘bedside’ are suboptimal. This was recognized by the McKeon review, and by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Australia is currently laying the foundation for greater integration between clinical and research settings. Also in response to the McKeon review, the Commonwealth Government created the Medical Research Future Fund. The new funding body will support the translation of medical research into new or better ways of improving the health and wellbeing of Australians. Academy Fellows from around the country assembled to hear the latest on the application of research with international speaker Sir John Tooke, Executive Chairman of Academic Health Solutions, UK.

The Academy also announced the induction of 50 new Fellows through ordinary election, bringing the total Fellowship to 272.  New Fellows are drawn from all states and territories of Australia, and from all aspects of health and medical science across clinical practice and allied health care, with representation from basic translational and clinical research, health economics, general practice and public health.

Professor Frazer, President of the Academy, said:

“I am delighted on behalf of the Academy council to welcome the new Fellows to the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences this evening.  Their election as Fellows of the Academy will help to ensure that the Academy can promote use of the best in research-informed health care for all Australians.”

Professor John McGrath, Chair of AAHMS Queensland State Branch and Director, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, University of Queensland, joined Professor Frazer in congratulating the new Fellows, adding that we look forward to meeting them over the two-day meetings. “The new Fellows bring great skills and experience to our Academy – the depth of talent in the Australian health and medical research community is truly inspirational. “

The meeting on Day 2, “The Medical Research Future Fund – Great expectations and sober realities: Will the MRFF help link bench and bedside?” is open to the public and will feature Professor Ian Frazer, AAHMS President and Chair, AMRAB, the MRFF Advisory Board; Professor Steve Wesselingh, SAHMRI, South Australia; Professor Anthony Cunningham, The University of Sydney; and Professor Robyn Ward, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), University of Queensland; Professor John Shine, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney; Professor Robert Ramsay, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Victoria and; Professor Michael Berk, Deakin University, Victoria.

Download a list of new Fellows and their affiliated organisations here.

For further information, please contact:

AAHMS Support on: [email protected] or phone 0400 428 224.

Australian Medical Research Advisory Board Announced

Health Minister Sussan Ley today announced the composition of the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, which will be chaired by Prof Ian Frazer.  Two further Fellows of the Academy, Prof Doug Hilton and Prof Karen Reynolds were also been appointed to the board, which will advise the Government on how funds held in the Medical Research Fund (MRFF) should be allocated.

“The newly announced advisory board will bring a diversity of talent to lead discussion about priorities for MRFF funding, and about the mechanisms for establishing and reviewing those priorities. This process will start with a round table held under the auspices of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences in Sydney on 29th April.” said Prof Frazer.

Press Release: Minister for Health Sussan Ley

 

MRFF Advisory Board Members;

  • Prof Ian Frazer AC (Chair), Director of Research of the Translational Research Institute;
  • Prof Doug Hilton, President of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institute and Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute;
  • Prof Karen Reynolds, Director of the Medical Device Research Institute and the Medical Device Partnering Program and Deputy Dean of the School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics at Flinders University;
  • Mr Yasser El-Ansary​, Chief Executive of the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association;
  • Prof Peter Høj, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Queensland;
  • Prof Anne Kelso AO, Chief Executive, National Health and Medical Research Council;
  • Dr Deborah Rathjen, Managing Director, Bionomics Corporation, and;
  • Ms Jennifer Williams, former chief executive of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

Inaugural Scientific Meeting & Induction of New Fellows

The Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences held its first Annual Scientific Meeting at the Australian National University in Canberra today.  The Academy recognises the opportunities that exist through health and medical research to achieve for Australia a world-leading, efficient and effective health care system.  The Academy promotes the continued development of quality health care through research leadership, mentorship of future researchers, and provision of expert opinion to the public and government.  Academy Fellows from around the country assembled to hear the latest on the application of research in genomics to the practice of health care and personalised medicine.  Leading speakers included; Professor Ian Alexander, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney; Professor Nadia Rosenthal, Monash University, Melbourne; Professor John Rasko, The University of Sydney; and Professor Fiona Karet, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Cambridge, UK.

The Academy also announced the induction of 77 new Fellows through ordinary election, adding to the existing Fellowship of 131.  New Fellows are drawn from all states and territories of Australia, and from all aspects of health and medical science across clinical practice and allied health care, with representation from basic translational and clinical research, health education, public health and industry.

In addition, the Academy welcomed 13 outstanding individuals who will join Sir Gustav Nossal as Honorary Fellows of the Academy, as well as the first Overseas Fellow, Professor Charles Mullighan.  These awards acknowledge their significant contributions to academic medicine in Australia and to the establishment of the Academy

Professor Frazer, President of the Academy, said:
“I am delighted on behalf of the Academy council to welcome the new Fellows to the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences this evening.  Their election as Fellows reflects the international standing of their contribution to health and medical science through research, though leadership, and through service.  Their future contribution to the field will contribute to ensuring that users of the healthcare system in Australia are offered the best quality of care using the latest in advances in health research.”

Professor Simon Foote, Director of The John Curtin School of Medial Research, joined Professor Frazer in congratulating the new Fellows, adding that he was delighted to be hosting this inaugural scientific meeting of the Academy at ANU.

A list of new Fellows and their affiliated organisations may be downloaded here.

For further information, please contact:
Ms Simone Yendle on [email protected] or phone 0400 428 224.