New AAMRI President takes up the fight for health and medical research

New AAMRI President takes up the fight for health and medical research

27th October, 2014

Doug HiltonFighting for the full implementation of the Medical Research Future Fund and keeping Australia’s best and brightest medical researchers and clinicians onshore for the health of the nation will be at the top of Professor Doug Hilton’s agenda as he takes over the presidency of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) tomorrow.

“The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for improved health and economic outcomes for Australia, and would be a tremendous legacy for this Parliament to leave for generations to come,” said Professor Hilton, Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

“Currently the Australian Government spends just 64 per cent of the OECD average on health and medical research as a proportion of GDP. The MRFF will mean an additional $1 billion each year for health and medical research in Australia by 2022, bringing us back in line with other OECD countries and ensuring our researchers are spending less time applying for funding, and more time being creative and making discoveries.

“We’ve got more than seven million Australians living with chronic illnesses, and we’re looking down the barrel of a doubling in health and aged care costs to the taxpayer in coming years. The only way we are going to get on top of these problems is by investing in health and medical research to get at the causes.”

Professor Hilton is also passionate about ensuring that Australian discoveries are translated into better treatments that benefit all of the community, particularly our most chronically ill and disadvantaged.

“Australia, like many western countries, faces the grand challenge of ensuring medical advances derived from research are translated into new drugs and treatments widely available to the whole community without bankrupting the nation,” Professor Hilton said.

”Keeping our brightest researchers here and better translating discoveries into improved healthcare will enhance the lives of all Australians, including the disadvantaged, and improve access for discoveries to us all. We must ensure the best medical treatments are available to everyone, not just the wealthy.”

Professor Hilton said that AAMRI is a broad church, representing the full spectrum of the health and medical research sector.

“That means everything from basic research to better understand diseases, through to clinical trials, population studies, and health services research in our hospitals and other healthcare settings,” he said.

“As AAMRI President I will continue to pursue a more efficient peer review system, full and transparent funding for research – including indirect costs – and a better deal for our early- and mid-career researchers.”

Professor Hilton officially commences as AAMRI President on Tuesday 28 October, taking over from incumbent President Professor Brendan Crabb, Director of the Burnet Institute, who has been in the role for two years.


AAMRI is the peak body representing medical research institutes across Australia. Our 45 member organisations are international leaders in health and medical research, addressing practically every aspect of human health and disease. Collectively, AAMRI’s members represent more than 10,000 staff and students and an annual turnover in excess of $1 billion.


Medical Research Facts

  • An estimated 75 per cent of Australians have a long-term health condition. [AIHW]
  • More than 7 million Australians live with a chronic illness. [AIHW]
  • More than half of potentially preventable hospitalisations arise from chronic conditions. [AIHW]
  • Health and aged care costs, as a proportion of Federal Government expenditure, are expected to almost double by 2050, from 18.5 per cent to 33 per cent of Government expenditure. [Treasury]
  • The Australian Government invests 0.075 per cent of GDP in health and medical research, 64 per cent of the OECD average. [OECD]
  • Every dollar invested in Australian health and medical research returns on average $2.17 in health benefits. [Access Economics, ASMR]
  • Investment in the NHMRC between 2000-2010 is projected to save $966 million in costs to the health system, with a further $6 billion in projected gains linked to increased wellbeing. [Deloitte Access Economics, ASMR]
  • The health and medical research sector employs around 23,000 research professionals, and helps support a medicines industry of more than 40,000 people. [ASMR; Medicines Australia]
  • Australia produces 3 per cent of the world’s medical research outputs (publications) from just 1.1 per cent of global health research dollars. [NHMRC; Burke & Monot]
  • Australia’s medicines industry has an annual turnover of around $22 billion and annual exports worth $4 billion; it is Australia’s most valuable high technology export industry, with almost four times the exports of electronics. [Medicines Australia; ABS; OECD]


About the Medical Research Future Fund

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is one of the most important initiatives in Australia’s history to ensure that Australia stays at the leading edge of medical science, with profound benefits for our health, the world’s health, and our economy.

As proposed, the MRFF will build to a $20 billion perpetual fund, providing annual disbursements of $1 billion by 2022-23. The MRFF will have a transformational impact on long-term future health and medical research in Australia and, through this, the efficiency and effectiveness of the Australian health system.

For more information visit