AAMRI eNews – 11th edition – December 2017

AAMRI eNews – 11th edition – December 2017

18th December, 2017


11th edition – December 2017

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – Convention wrap-up, new AAMRI President-elect, and AAMRI submission on peer review
  2. Government update – Proposed changes to electoral law and managing international donations
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – Project grant recipients announced, additional funding for female lead investigators
  4. MRFF Update – New MRFF funding principles
  5. Sector news – CSL to spend $1 billion on heart attack and organ transplant drugs; establishment of international brain initiative, new Director for HMRI in 2018.
  6. Reports & resources – Professional Scientists Remuneration Survey Summary Report; Health-adjusted life expectancy in Australia report.
  7. Funding & award opportunities -Science Policy Fellowship Program
  8. Events, conferences & training opportunities – Collaboration for Industry Impact – Deep Dive Workshop.

Do you have something that you would like featured in a future newsletter? Send it through to communications@aamri.org.au

1. AAMRI news

2017 AAMRI Convention wrap-up – Professor Steve Wesselingh announced as the next AAMRI President

What did you think of of the 2017 AAMRI Convention?

Provide your feedback through this 1 minute survey.

New AAMRI President-elect 

At the AAMRI Convention Professor Steve Wesselingh was confirmed as the next AAMRI President-Elect. Professor Weeslingh is the Director of SAHMRI and a current AAMRI Director. He will take over as President at the November 2018 AGM. AAMRI also welcomes two new Directors to its Board, Professor Elizabeth Hartland (Director of the Hudson Institute), and Professor Vlado Perkovic (Director of The George Institute).

Health Minister speaks at the AAMRI Dinner

The Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, spoke at the AAMRI Dinner at Parliament House where he discussed the importance of medical research to the health system, and the important role the Medical Research Future Fund is set to play. A copy of the transcript will be available soon.

President’s address to the AAMRI Dinner

Professor Tony Cunningham AO (AAMRI President) also addressed the AAMRI Dinner. In his speech Professor Cunningham talked about the importance of getting behind the Medical Research Future Fund and ensuring it reaches its $20 billion capitalisation target.

Professor Elizabeth Rakoczy awarded the CSL Florey Medal

The Health Minister also presented Professor Elizabeth Rakoczy with the CSL Florey Medal at the AAMRI Dinner. Professor Rakoczy has created a new gene therapy for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that is reversing vision loss in clinical trial patients.

2017 AAMRI Convention presentations

We had a great range of presentations at the 2017 AAMRI Convention, including Professor Anne Kelso AO (NHMRC CEO), Professor Ian Fazer AC (President, Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences), and Dr Alan Finkel AO (Chief Scientist). Presentation slides and videos are being progressively uploaded to the AAMRI website.

Shadow Minister Carr addresses the AAMRI breakfast

Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator the Hon Kim Carr, spoke at the AAMRI President’s Breakfast. Senator Carr discussed a range of policy issues relating to science and research.

AAMRI Submissions

AAMRI proposes peer review changes

AAMRI’s submission to the NHMRC peer review consultation discussion paper proposes a new peer review system. This is based on increasing the number of expert reviews of applications, and then ranking the quality of applications relative to each other.

AAMRI has proposed substantial changes in its submission including; full applications, with no expressions of interest stage, a single pool of reviewers, ending the existing split between assigners and assessment panels and assessors ranking projects on basis of scores.

Thank you to all members that assisted in the development of this submission.

2.  Government and policy update 


Proposed changes to electoral law and managing international donations

On the final sitting day of the year the Government proposed new rules covering electoral law, campaigning and international philanthropic donations.

Bills were introduced to both the House of Representatives (relating to foreign influence transparency), and also to the Senate (covering electoral funding and disclosure). The Senate Bill has been referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters for inquiry and report, with submissions due on 25 January 2017. The House Bill has been referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security, with submission due on 22 January 2017.

AAMRI is investigating the potential impact of the proposed changes on the medical research sector, and will be contacting members soon with further details. Members interested in this area should contact enquiries@aamri.org.au

Crowd-sourced equity funding regulations for proprietary companies

The Government has released exposure draft regulations providing further detail on the extension of the crowd-sourced funding (CSF) framework to proprietary companies. Submissions are due by 2 February 2018.

Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2017 Measures No.1) Bill 2017 and related bill

The Bill proposes a range of changes to the listing of medicines. The Bill has been referred to Senate Committee for inquiry and report, submissions are due by 2 February 2018.

Policy update

MYEFO – no significant changes to medical research funding

The 2017-18 MYEFO has been released showing no major changes to medical research funding. An additional $23 million has been allocated to the Department of Health to fund administrative costs associated with the MRFF.

Senate inquiry calls for more action on low survival rate cancers

Among the 25 recommendations from this Senate inquiry included the NHMRC considering identifying low survival cancers as a National Health Priority Area.

Government response to Senate inquiry into the care and management of younger and older Australians living with dementia

The Australian Government has released a response to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee report: Care and management of younger and older Australians living with dementia and behavioural and psychiatric symptoms of dementia.

House of Representatives final report into the dementia: early diagnosis and intervention

The final report makes a range of recommendations including that the Department of Health and/or the NHMRC should initiate targeted research into the influence of psychosocial interventions on brain health and the implications for the risk of developing dementia.

Labor’s plan to make HIV history

Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, says a Shorten Labor Government will renew the effort to end HIV transmissions in Australia with a $53 million commitment to step up the fight against the disease. This commitment will include support for the states and territories to offer preventive medicine PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to another 17,500 Australians until it is listed on the PBS.

3. NHMRC & ARC updates

NHMRC grant recipients announced

More than $640 million in NHMRC grants were recently announced, including Project Grant recipients. The success rate for Project Grants was 16.4%, up from 15.2% last year. The improved success rate was the result of fewer applications being submitted and slightly more grants being awarded.

Additional NHMRC Project Grant funding for female lead investigators

The NHMRC has introduced a new initiative to help reduce the funding gap between male and female lead investigators for Project Grants. Each year the the funded rates for Project Grants are higher for men than women. Additional funding has been provided for 34 more female lead investigators in addition to researchers funded through the usual allocation to the Project Grant scheme.

Easy access to grant information – GrantConnect

GrantConnect provides a central location for potential grant applicants to find and access grant opportunities and documentation on Commonwealth grant schemes. Anyone can sign up to receive optional email notification of new Commonwealth grant opportunities, relevant to their interests, as they are published.

How to maximise your chances of making a successful NHMRC grant application 

Dr Saraid Billiards, currently Head of Strategy and Engagement of SAGE and former Director of Project Grants with the NHMRC, presents a webinar on how to optimise success rates for those who apply for NHMRC funding grants.

NHMRC–EU Collaborative Research Grants

The European Commission’s Horizon 2020 calls are now open. The NHMRC has provided a list of 2018 Horizon 2020 calls that it will support. Funding Rules for these calls are available on

Targeted Call for Research into Social and Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples from Early Life to Young Adults

Applications for this targeted call have now opened in RGMS and further information is available from GrantConnect.

4.  MRFF update

AAMRI and Group of Eight jointly welcome the new Medical Research Future Fund Principles

The Australian Government has endorsed a series of funding principles that will inform future funding decisions from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). The release of the principles coincided with the AAMRI Convention, and were jointly welcomed by AAMRI and the Group of Eight.

National Action Plan for Endometriosis

The Government has announced that it will create a first National Action Plan for Endometriosis. As part of the plan a targeted call for research will be issued under the Medical Research Future Fund.

5.  Sector news

CSL to spend $1 billion on heart attack and organ transplant drugs

CSL plans to spend $1 billion on developing potential drugs to prevent deadly second heart attacks and costly organ transplant rejection over the next five years. Subject to regulatory approval, the company will spend up to $US 550 million ($720 million) on phase III clinical trials of CSL112, a new treatment aimed at preventing secondary heart attacks, strokes and deaths.

CSL opens new $230 million plant 

CSL has expanded its local manufacturing capacity with the opening of a $230 million facility, which will add 200 new jobs and generate $850 million worth of product each year.

The Academy of Science announces establishment of International Brain Initiative

A meeting of representatives of some of the world’s major brain research projects, hosted by the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra, has made a declaration to establish an International Brain Initiative. The declaration, made by representatives from Japan, Korea, Europe, the United States of America and Australia, is designed to speed up progress on ‘cracking the brain’s code’.

2018 honorific science awards announced

Outstanding contributions to science have been recognised by the Australian Academy of Science with 18 of Australia’s leading scientists and future superstars receiving prestigious 2018 honorific awards.

New Director for HMRI in 2018

Following six successful years at the helm of Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), Professor Michael Nilsson will accept a position as Global Innovation Chair with the newly created Centre for Innovative Technologies in Rehabilitation Settings (CITRS) at the University of Newcastle in early 2018.

$5 million donation for Walter & Eliza Hall Institute

Philanthropist Pamela Galli has given medical biology a $5 million boost with the establishment of the Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Chair in Medical Biology at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and the University of Melbourne. The inaugural Chair will be Professor Doug Hilton AO, a blood specialist and the current director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

VIC – Research of generations to pave the way for a healthy future

Up to 100,000 Victorian babies could be enlisted to provide clues to what factors influence the healthy development of children in one of the world’s largest longitudinal studies of children. The Victorian Government is providing $2 million to the project – a partnership between the Government, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

6.  Reports and resources

Professional Scientists Remuneration Survey Summary Report

Professional Scientists Australia (a division of Professionals Australia), in conjunction with Science & Technology Australia, has produced a survey report containing detailed analysis and commentary on scientists’ remuneration.

Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality (ACIM) books

The ACIM books are Excel workbooks of summary statistics, tables and graphs by age, year, sex, and state and territory for selected cancers and all cancers combined. This year, the ACIM books present data by state and territory for the first time.

Australian maternal mortality rate among lowest in the world

A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found the maternal mortality rate in Australia in 2012-2014 was 6.8 deaths per 100,000 women giving birth, which is among the lowest rates in the world. The most common causes of maternal death were bleeding in the brain and in the abdomen (non-obstetric haemorrhage). Women over the age of 35 and under 20 were more likely to die in association with childbirth.

Health-adjusted life expectancy in Australia report: expected years lived in full health 2011

According to a recently released report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), health-adjusted life expectancy increased comparably to life expectancy. In addition, people in remote areas and people in the lowest socioeconomic group expected both shorter lives and fewer years in full health compared with their counterparts in Major cities and the highest socioeconomic group.

7.  Funding & award opportunities

Science Policy Fellowship Program

The Australian Science Policy Fellowship Pilot Program gives scientists the opportunity to work in a Commonwealth Government department for one year. It strengthens the diversity of expertise in the Australian Public Service workforce by providing a pathway for scientists to become skilled policy practitioners. The program is targeted at early- and mid-career researchers with up to 15 years post-PhD.

8.  Events, conferences & training opportunities

Tell us about your 2018 events and we’ll include them in the next newsletter