MRFF is a turning point for Australia’s health and medical research sector

MRFF is a turning point for Australia’s health and medical research sector

28th August, 2015

There are times when you read an article in the newspaper and it frustrates you because it fails to present both sides of the story.

Last week an article in The Australian’s Higher Education section left the entire AAMRI Board feeling dismayed. We wrote a letter to the editor in response to this article, but it didn’t run.

Given the importance of the Medical Research Future Fund to the health and medical research sector, I feel it is important you have the opportunity to read what we wrote as the AAMRI Board. Please see below for more.

Letter to the Editor

We write in response to the article in The Australian Higher Education section on 19 August titled ‘Medical research funding should not be misused, Coalition warned’.

We are dismayed that this story emphasised speculative future problems at a time when Parliament has passed legislation to create a transformational $20 billion endowment fund for medical research and innovation.

The overwhelming view of the medical research community is one of excitement. The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is a turning point for the health and medical research sector, and a unique opportunity to tackle intractable diseases on a scale this nation has never seen before!

Importantly, the article failed to mention that the Government incorporated significant feedback into the MRFF legislation to improve transparency and governance. This included the requirement that the Health Minister must take into account funding priorities outlined by an independent advisory board, must publish MRFF funding allocations on the internet, and must report to Parliament every two years on how MRFF funding allocations have aligned with the advisory board’s priorities.

The Australian Greens and cross-bench Senators extolled the huge impact this safeguarded funding will have on the future of medical research in Australia, and on the health and economic outcomes of the nation.

We congratulate Parliament on their multi-partisan support for this far-sighted piece of public policy. The MRFF is something the medical research sector and the community is (and should be) celebrating.

Signatories:

Professor Doug Hilton, AAMRI President, and Director, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Director, Telethon Kids Institute

Professor Brendan Crabb AC, Director & CEO, Burnet Institute

Professor Tony Cunningham AO, Executive Director, Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research

Professor Frank Gannon, Director & CEO, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

Professor Michelle Haber AM, Executive Director, Children’s Cancer Institute Australia

Mr Peter Scott, Chair, Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute

Professor Steve Wesselingh, Executive Director, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute