AAMRI eNews 5th edition 2017

AAMRI eNews 5th edition 2017

14th June, 2017



eNews 5th edition 2017

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – update on changes to 457 visas, and AAMRI submission to ISA 2030 Strategic Plan
  2. Government update – Federal Budget, Senate inquiry into cancers with low survival rates, and State funding announcements
  3. Medical Research Future Fund – One funding announcement after another – AAMRI is keeping track of them all
  4. NHMRC & ARC updates – Structural review, consultation on clinical trials and cohort studies, and more
  5. Sector news – new AAMRI member, the Biomedicine Discovery Institute
  6. Reports & resources – latest sector reports
  7. Funding & award opportunities – a bumper crop of funding and award opportunities
  8. Events & conferences – sector events of interest, and save the date for the 2017 AAMRI Convention

1. AAMRI news

Changes to Australia’s migration programme affecting medical research
As highlighted in last month’s eNews the Federal Government has announced changes to Australia’s migration programme, impacting on subclass 457, 186 and 187 visas. The changes have seen a lot of core medical research occupations, as well as university lecturer, drop off the skills occupation list used to determine eligibility for a range of different visas. This makes it a lot more difficult, and in most cases impossible, for medical research institutes to recruit and retain world-leading talent.

AAMRI President Professor Tony Cunningham recently spoke about the issue on SBS World News.

AAMRI has put forward a submission to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in response to a consultation on which occupations should be on the medium and long-term skilled occupation when it is next updated on 1 July. Once the revised list is made public we will be in touch with members to advise them of the outcome.

AAMRI submission to the Innovation & Science Australia 2030 Strategic Plan Issues Paper
The Australian Government has tasked Innovation and Science Australia with developing a 2030 Strategic Plan for the Australian innovation, science and research system out to 2030. AAMRI’s a submission to the consultation on the strategic plan focuses on migration arrangements for science, equitable funding, gender equity in science, and ways to increase collaboration between research organisations and industry.

Welcome to AAMRI’s new Policy and Project’s Officer, Dr Cath Latham
We welcome Dr Cath Latham to the new role of Policy and Project’s Officer at AAMRI. Cath has worked at AAMRI for nearly two years in a part-time capacity and was the author of the 2016 AAMRI Member Report. Cath has been a medical research scientist for more than 15 years, most recently studying HIV at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne.


2.  Government update

2017-18 Federal Budget 
The Federal Budget featured the first funding announcements from the Medical Research Future Fund, new funding initiatives for proton beam therapy and research, and mental health research. AAMRI’s has produced high level summary as well as a more detailed analysis of the measures and funding forecasts within the Budget.

Senate Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates – Impact of health research funding models
Public hearings are now underway with a final report expected later in the year. A number of AAMRI members have participated and given evidence at the inquiry. Transcripts from the inquiry are now available.

NSW: $4 million for schizophrenia research
The NSW Government has awarded $4 million in funding to AAMRI member Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) as part of Schizophrenia Awareness Week. The funding will be used to help identify alternative treatment options for people diagnosed with schizophrenia and help prevent future episodes and the development of a chronic disorder.

QLD: Government invests in spinal cord injury research
The Queensland Government will provide $5 million funding to help researchers and medical clinicians continue their ground-breaking work into healing spinal cord injuries. The research aims to produce a 3D bio-degradable nerve cell bridge that can be transplanted to repair injured spinal cords.

QLD: $10M announced in Budget for new Queensland Health and Medical Research Funding Program
Funding of $10M was announced in the Queensland Budget for a new Queensland Health and Medical Research Funding Program. The will provide support to innovative, collaborative research that can be applied to frontline healthcare. New initiatives that emerge from this program will be co-designed with the research community to ensure that benefits are maximised and complement the government’s innovation agenda.


3.  Medical Research Future Fund

Summary of funding announcements
Since the Federal Budget it’s been one funding announcement after another from the Medical Research Future Fund! AAMRI has compiled a handy table to keep track of all the announcements, including details on who will be administering the funds, as well as the competitive process being used to fund research projects.



Structural review of NHMRC grant program
Following an extensive consultation process the NHMRC announced its new Grant Program structure on 25 May 2017. AAMRI has produced a high-level overview of the changes.

From 2020 there will be four types of grants funded:

  • Investigator Grants – consolidates separate fellowship and research support into one grant for high-performing researchers at all career stages
  • Synergy Grants – $5 million grants for outstanding multi-disciplinary research teams
  • Ideas Grants – support for innovative and creative research projects, for researchers at all career stages
  • Strategic and Leveraging Grants – includes targeted calls for research, clinical trials and cohort studies

Public consultation on “A Framework for NHMRC Assessment and Funding of Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies”
The NHMRC has opened a consultation on the proposed Framework for NHMRC Assessment and Funding of Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies. A discussion paper has been released for comment. The paper describes the challenges faced by NHMRC when funding clinical trials and cohort studies and proposes an assessment and funding framework for the future.

AAMRI will be putting forward a submission to the consultation and members are asked to send through any comments they have on the discussion paper to peter.thomas@aamri.org.au

Review of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research ethics guidelines
The revised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research ethics guidelines are now available for public consultation. Submissions in response to the draft guidelines must be received by 7 July 2017.

Report on the Evidence: Promoting social and emotional development and wellbeing of infants in pregnancy and the first year of life 
NHMRC has issued a Report and Plain Language Summary that summarises the findings of 51 systematic literature reviews and analyses the types of interventions aimed at promoting infants’ and children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

Extension to targeted call for research into dementia in Indigenous Australians 
The opening period for the targeted call for research into Dementia in Indigenous Australians has been extended. The new dates are as follows:

  • Minimum data due in RGMS –5:00pm AEST 28 June 2017
  • Closing date for applications – 5:00pm AEST 12 July 2017

6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation
The 6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation will be co-hosted this year by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Lowitja Institute. The conference will take place on 15-15 November 2017 in Brisbane. The call for abstracts is now open and will close on 23 June 2017

ARC Funding Outcomes
Funding outcomes for ARC Laureate Fellowships, Future Fellowships, Industrial Transformation Research Centres, Industralian Transformation Training Centres, and the Linkage Program were made in June. Congratulations to all grant recipients.


5.  Sector news

New AAMRI member – Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute
AAMRI is delighted to welcome its newest member, the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. Made up of more than 120 research groups, and over 700 researchers, the institute pursues excellence in discovery research in six priority areas: infection and immunity, cancer, development and stem cells, neuroscience, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease and obesity. The institute is based at Monash University and is headed by Professor John Carroll.

MRI researchers among 21 new Fellows elected to the Australian Academy of Science
Researchers based at AAMRI member institutes were among those to be elected as Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science. Our congratulations goes to Dr Mark Smyth (QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute), Professor Melissa Little (Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), and Professor Lois Salamonsen (Hudson Institute of Medical Research).

$400 million philanthropic donation announcement
Andrew and Nicola Forrest have made a $400 million philanthropic donation. The funds will be dispersed as follows; $75 million for coordinating world cancer institutes, $50 million towards building stronger communities, $75 million for higher education and breakthrough research, $75 million towards ‘giving every child their best chance’, $50 million towards creating equality of opportunity amongst all Australians, and $75 million towards removing modern slavery.

First funding announcement from the BTF
The first funding announcement from the $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund has been announced. The recipient of a $10 million funding injection is Prota Therapeutics, a company spun out of AAMRI member the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. Prota Therapeutics is developing a treatment for peanut allergy that promises to allow children to eat peanuts as part of their regular diet.


6.  Reports and resources

La Trobe University: Preventive health: How much does Australia spend and is it enough?
This report looks at how much much Australia spends compared to other nations, what funding models are used, and what level of funding Australia should be aiming for.

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care – Second Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation
The Second Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation shows variation in the use of specific types of health care across more than 300 local areas nationally, with a specific chapter on women’s health.

Productivity Commission Inquiry Report – Data availability and use 
This report offers guidance on where the benefits of greater data use may be most evident, and ways that governments might engage with the public to generate community understanding of the costs, risks, and benefits associated with data sharing and use.

Australian Health Review – new issue
This new issue of the Australian Health Review explores the interactions between economics, workforce, treatments and ‘the system’.

AIHW report on Burden of cancer in Australia: Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011
This report explores in further detail the burden of cancer in Australia, including cancer burden in Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people, and by remoteness and socioeconomic group. It also looks at how the cancer burden has changed since 2003, and the potential burden of cancer expected in 2020.

AIHW report on incidence of selected cancers 2006-2010
This report includes local cancer incidence rates (newly diagnosed cases) for all cancers combined, as well as breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, lung and melanoma of the skin.

AIHW report on participation in national cancer screening programs 
This report includes includes national participation rates for bowel, breast and cervical cancer screening programs.

AIHW report on rural health
A new web report on health outcomes for those living in rural and remote areas.

AIHW report on Admitted Patient Care 2015-16
A report on the number of separations and waiting times in Australia’s public and private hospitals.


7.  Funding & award opportunities

CSL Centenary Fellowship Program
Australia’s biomedical researchers are invited to apply for one of two CSL Centenary Fellowships each worth $1.25 million over five years in support of discovery and translational medical research. These Fellowships are offered to outstanding mid-career scientists seeking to undertake world-class medical research at an Australian academic institution. Applications close on 31 July 2017.

Australia-China Joint Research Centres – application round opening soon
Round 3 of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) component of the bilateral ACSRF is expected to open for applications in the second half of 2017. The Australian Government funding of up to $1 million for joint projects with Chinese colleagues. The priority areas for round 3 will be: advanced manufacturing, medical technologies and pharmaceuticals, and resources and energy.

Australia-China Young Scientists Exchange Program
The Australia-China Young Scientists Exchange Program (YSEP) aims to provide a catalyst to bring together future science leaders from Australia and China to foster long term relationships. The program provides for an annual exchange of Australian and Chinese early to mid-career researchers to support the development of expertise in international collaboration. Applications close at 9am on 26 June.

Australia Cancer Research Foundation
The Australian Cancer Research Foundation supports cancer research in Australia by providing significant funding grants to assist researchers in achieving major research outcomes.  Grant applications for funding between $1.5M to $3.5M are now open. Applications should be received by Friday 23 June 2017.

Applications open for the 19th Cooperative Research Centre round 
The Australian Government is seeking applications for industry-led proposals for the 19th Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) selection round. CRCs bring together business, researchers and research organisations from Australia and overseas to work together on solutions for major industry issues. Applications close on 12 July 2017.

Universities Australia – research exchange between Australia and Germany 
Applications are now open for the researchers in the early stages of their careers to go on research exchange between Australia and Germany. Funding is provided for travel and living costs to help researchers work alongside German colleagues. Applications close on 16 June.

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia 
Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia is calling for applications in three categories of funding:

  • Clinician Scientist Award (CSA) (up to $450,000 over 3 years)
  • John Mills Young Investigator Award (YIA) (up to $150,000 over 18 months)
  • New Concept Grants (NCG) (up to $100,000 over 12 months)

The closing date for applications is 19 June 2017.

Ausbiotech and Johnson & Johnson Industry Excellence Awards
Each year, the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Industry Excellence Awards are presented at the AusBiotech national conference to recognise the highest achievers in the Australian life sciences. From researchers who successfully translate their discoveries to clinical practice, to companies who pioneer the developments of new treatments and reliable diagnostics. Nominations are open until 29 September.


8.  Events & conferences

AAMRI National Convention – 6 & 7 December – save the date!
A reminder the AAMRI National Convention will take place on 6 and 7 December. Further details including registration and program will be available soon.

National Health Innovation and Research Symposium
The Mid North Coast Local Health District will host the National Health Innovation and Research Symposium on 3 – 4 August 2017. The Symposium will focus on creating a connected health environment for patients and the community. The aim is to provide a platform for information exchange through interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral collaboration.