Science firmly on the agenda with National Science Statement

Science firmly on the agenda with National Science Statement

22nd March, 2017

The restating that science, medical research and innovation underpins our economy while improving our health, building our productivity and informing public policy in the new Australian National Science Statement 2017 are all welcome affirmations from the Australian Government.

Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes President Professor Tony Cunningham AO said he was pleased health and medical research was highlighted in the Science Statement and that the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) featured prominently. The high-quality work of medical research institutes was also recognised as well as the growing importance of the not for profit sector within research.

“The statement recognises that the best results from science are delivered when there is long-term and stable investment in science, and it is good to see this recognition by the government,” Professor Cunningham said. “It is long-term support that has led to the discovery and development of many major Australian medical research breakthroughs, including the leukaemia drug Venetoclax, which was recently approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. This drug essentially ‘melts away’ cancer and will save lives.

“As Minister Sinodinos noted at the National Press Club today, science infrastructure like the Australian Synchrotron helps support important discoveries such as Venetoclax, which was developed by AAMRI member the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, in conjunction with fellow AAMRI member Peter Mac, and the Royal Melbourne Hospital. There will be many more fine examples of medical research to come with sustainable funding from the MRFF, and that is something all Australians can look forward to.”

Beyond improving the health of Australians through improved prevention, diagnostics and treatments, health and medical research also delivered financial returns to the Australian economy, Professor Cunningham said.

“Funding health and medical research is one of the best investments a government can make, be it at a federal or state level,” he said.

“I’m pleased to see the science statement recognises the importance of investing in all the different stages of research, from discovery research in the lab through to the translation of discoveries into new treatments and medical devices

“The focus in the statement on supporting the recently developed National Research Infrastructure Roadmap is particularly welcome. Undertaking high quality research requires access to high quality infrastructure and equipment.”

Professor Cunningham also welcomed the focus on collaboration in the Science Statement.

“Many of our members work collaboratively with industry both here and overseas, while also working with hospitals and universities. This ensures the best research happens and Australians reap the benefits from these collaborations,” Professor Cunningham said.

AAMRI research has shown our members punch above their weight on their outputs, their effective translation of research and clinical trials due to such collaborations, and the nimble nature of their operations.”