AAMRI eNews 4th edition 2015

AAMRI eNews 4th edition 2015

3rd May, 2015

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – Federal Government reaffirms MRFF commitment, AAMRI 2015 Convention, and more
  2. Government update – Federal budget, National science strategy, HERDC changes on hold, Medicare review, and more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – Future Fellowships review, new NHMRC CEO commences, push for global researcher identifier system, and more
  4. Sector news – $200 million MCRF3 venture capital fund, Gene Technology Regulator consultation, and more
  5. Reports & resources
  6. Funding & award opportunities
  7. Upcoming conferences & events

1. AAMRI news

MRFF alive and well
The Federal Government has vowed to push ahead with the Medical Res­earch Future Fund, with Health Minister Sussan Ley revealing in an interview with Sky News this week that it would be partly funded by savings from a review of Medicare. AAMRI Past President Brendan Crabb and MRFF Action Group Chair Peter Scott were interviewed in The Australian about the fund today.
This adds to numerous public affirmations by the Federal Government of its commitment to the MRFF, including by the Health Minister at The George Institute’s event on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of our health system, where she also reaffirmed that health reform would not involve a GP co-payment.
Thanks again to everyone who has been advocating for the MRFF, including Telethon Kids Institute Director Jonathan Carapetis, who recently wrote a piece in The West Australian.

AAMRI Convention, 11-12 Nov 2015 – Registrations open
Registrations are now open for the 2015 AAMRI National Convention and Dinner in Canberra on 11 and 12 November. The AAMRI Convention is a free, member only event for member institute Directors, COO/CFO/Business Managers and Board Chairs. Accommodation is available at Hotel Realm (Reservation Code: #1111ASSOCI). We recommend booking flights and accommodation early, as the Convention is on a Parliamentary sitting week.

AAMRI President recognised as champion of gender equity
AAMRI President Doug Hilton has been named as one of 20 inaugural ‘Male Champions of Change’ by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, for his work to improve the representation of women at senior levels of medical research.

2.  Government update 

2015-16 Federal budget
The 2015-16 Federal budget will be announced on the evening of Tuesday 12 May. AAMRI will provide a summary of initiatives affecting the health and medical research sector in a special edition of eNews on 13 May.

National science strategy on the horizon
The Commonwealth Science Council held its second meeting on 13 April, chaired by the Prime Minister. Council members recommended that the Government adopt nine draft research priority areas – food, soil & water, transport, cybersecurity, energy, resources, manufacturing, environmental change, and health – and requested that the National Science, Technology and Research Committee oversee capability mapping for practical challenges in each priority area.
The Federal Government has committed to pursuing a national science strategy and also signaled likely acceptance of the Council’s identified research priorities. Australian Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb will consult with the science sector and industry on a STEM strategy, with information to be available soon on the Department of Industry and Science’s new ‘science hub’ website science.gov.au.
The Council also discussed an interim report of the review of research infrastructure and the Miles Review of the CRC Program.

HERDC changes reversed for next two years
AAMRI welcomed the decision by the Federal Department of Education and Training to reverse proposed changes to the 2015 Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) Specifications, which would have put research programs at MRIs and hospitals in jeopardy, and resulted in significant job losses. The proposed changes would have cut funding for operational costs to MRIs, hospitals and some universities, but thankfully have been reversed for the next two years, pending a more comprehensive and considered consultation with the sector.
AAMRI President Doug Hilton appeared in The Australian discussing the reversal, and renewing our call for a fairer indirect costs funding arrangement for the research sector.

Medicare Review
The Federal Government has announced a review of Medicare, including a Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce led by Professor Bruce Robinson (Dean, Sydney Medical School) to identify what MBS services are effective, outdated or unproven. Also part of the review will be a Primary Health Care Advisory Group, led by Dr Steve Hambleton, to investigate innovative care and funding models and how primary health care can be better connected with hospital care. As mentioned in the MRFF update, some of these savings will be allocated to the MRFF.
Along with the Medicare Review, the Health Minister has announced a review of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) that is likely to result in further health savings.

Australian National Diabetes Strategy consultation
Federal Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced the development of an Australian National Diabetes Strategy, which seeks to prioritise Australia’s response to diabetes, and to identify approaches to reduce the impact of diabetes in the community. Submissions close on 17 May.

Government response to National Mental Health Commission’s review
The Federal Government has indicated it will undertake a national approach to mental health policy in its response to the National Mental Health Review of mental health programs and services. The Government will seek to establish a COAG Working Group on Mental Health Reform and is finalising the establishment of an Expert Reference Group to inform the process.

Consultation on Draft Strategy on International Education
A Draft National Strategy for International Education has been released for consultation. The strategy brings together key portfolios including Education, Foreign Affairs, Trade, Immigration, Industry and Science in a united effort. Research is included in the strategy’s scope. Submissions close on 29 May.

COAG Health Council Communique
The Federal and State and Territory Health Ministers met on 17 April at the COAG Health Council to discuss a range of national health issues. Topics included health workforce programs, accreditation for health care professionals, health performance and pricing, clinical trial planning and management of the risk of Ebola virus disease in Australia.

Standing Council on Health (SCoH) Communique
The Standing Council on Health (SCoH) met in Brisbane earlier this month to discuss items including multi-jurisdiction clinical trials, the Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza, the 20th International AIDS Conference and eHealth implementation.

NSW appoints Minister for Medical Research
The Hon Jillian Skinner MP has been re-appointed as Minister for Health in the re-elected Baird NSW Government, while the Hon Pru Goward MP has been appointed Minister for Medical Research, along with the roles of Minister for Mental Health, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Minister for Women and Assistant Minister for Health. The Hon Victor Dominello MP has been appointed to the new role of Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation.
NSW Labor’s Shadow Ministry includes Walter Secord MP as Shadow Health Minister, Tania Mihailuk MP as Shadow Minister for Medical Research, and Peter Primrose MP as Shadow Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation.

NSW Government maps state’s research capabilities
The Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer and Study NSW have commissioned a portal to display NSW’s research activities on a geographical basis. The portal will profile universities, public research organisations, medical research institutes, CRCs, and other research centres.

3. NHMRC & ARC

Consultation on NHMRC Fellowship Schemes
The NHMRC is seeking feedback on the following current and emerging issues for NHMRC’s Fellowships schemes:

  1. The changing balance between the number of research grants available and the number of Fellowships
  2. The structure of the Fellowship schemes
  3. Future strategic approaches
  4. The responsibilities of employing institutions and the health and medical research sector.

AAMRI will contact members shortly regarding its submission to the consultation. Submissions close on 18 June.

Professor Anne Kelso takes the reins at NHMRC
Professor Anne Kelso commenced as the CEO of the NHMRC this week. We wish her well as she settles into this important role.
In his parting speech at the National Press Club, former CEO Professor Warwick Anderson outlined what he sees as the six challenges facing Australia’s medical research sector.

Push to implement ORCiD researcher identifier system
The NHMRC and ARC have released a statement encouraging all researchers applying for funding to have an Open Research and Contributor ID (ORCiD) identifier. The Australian National Data Service (ANDS), Universities Australia, the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) and the Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS) have also endorsed a joint statement in support of implementing ORCiD throughout Australia’s research sector.

NHMRC statement on data sharing
The NHMRC has issued a data sharing statement acknowledging the importance of making data publicly accessible, encouraging data sharing and providing access to data and other research outputs arising from NHMRC supported research.

ARC Open Access Policy
The ARC’s Open Access policy has been updated to specify that publication metadata should include the ARC Project ID and list the ARC as the funding source, as well as other relevant information. Any future Funding Rules and Funding Agreements will include this requirement.

View NHMRC-funded research publications through TROVE
Research publications supported by NHMRC grants can now be viewed via the National Library of Australia’s TROVE platform. This forms part of the implementation of the NHMRC’s open access policy. TROVE harvests publications from other repositories (e.g. institutional open access repositories) to bring them together in one easily-discoverable place for the public. TROVE links directly to the original repositories. If publications in your organisation’s open access repository are not listed on TROVE, we suggest that you contact the library directly.

NHMRC Principles for the translation of ‘omics’ based tests from discovery to health care
The NHMRC’s Principles for the translation of ‘omics’- based tests from discovery to health care are designed to assist researchers and clinicians in translating omics-based discoveries into properly validated tests that are clinically useful.

How NHMRC can partner in funding health and medical research
The NHMRC has published a simple guide on how it can work with philanthropists, governments, and NGOs in funding health and medical research.

Full report of outcomes from NHMRC consultation on dementia research priorities
The NHMRC has released the full report of outcomes from the first stage of a priority-setting project to identify dementia research and translation priorities for stakeholders in the Australian context.

4.  Sector news

$200 million venture capital fund to support Australian health and medical research
Brandon Capital Partners’ third Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF3) has raised $200 million in venture capital from the superannuation industry. Over 50 of Australia’s medical research institutes and research hospitals are collaborative members of the MCRF. Around $50 million of the new fund will be reserved for 20-30 very early seed stage investments in promising biotech or medical device technologies. The remaining $150 million will be reserved for supporting the most successful to take them through to mid-stage clinical trials in patients.

Invitation to comment on draft assessment for a genetically modified virus for cancer therapy
The Gene Technology Regulator is assessing licence application DIR 132 from Amgen Australia Pty Ltd for dealings with a GM herpes simplex virus 1. The GM virus is proposed to be used as a prescription-only treatment for skin cancer and other solid tumours not suitable for surgical removal. Comments close on 19 June.

ResearchKit software to help support medical research
Apple has launched ResearchKit, an open-source software framework that makes it easy for researchers and developers to create apps that could revolutionise medical studies.

5.  Reports and resources

Science meets Parliament
Science meets Parliament 2015 attracted almost 200 scientists from across the nation, with more than 70 Federal Parliamentarians taking meetings and attending the gala dinner. A number of useful videos of presentations and transcripts from speeches are on the Science and Technology Australia website.

Research engagement for Australia: Measuring research engagement between universities and end users
This Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) report is intended to ensure that research engagement is appropriately recognised and rewarded alongside research excellence, in line with the Government’s Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. It focuses on developing metrics from existing data collections of Australian university research that can serve as indicators for research engagement, knowledge transfer and/or collaboration.

Innovate and prosper: ensuring Australia’s future competitiveness through university-industry collaboration
Australia ranks 29th out of 30 in OECD in terms of the proportion of large businesses and small to medium enterprises collaborating with higher education and public research institutions on innovation. This report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers in partnership with the Australian Technology Network of Universities and AiGroup contains a number of recommendations to address barriers to effective industry research collaboration, including:

Australia remains research leader in the Asia-Pacific region
Australia has ranked fourth in overall research publishing output in 2014 for the Asia-Pacific region, according to the Nature Index 2015 Asia-Pacific.

Australian Intellectual Property Report 2015
IP Australia’s recently released Australian Intellectual Property Report 2015 provides a detailed breakdown of the latest intellectual property trends in Australia.

Five reasons EMCRs should think about science communication
Associate Professor Joan Leach, President of Australian Science Communicators, writes about why EMCRS should think about science communication.

Nature: Fixing the postdoc problem
What is the solution to science’s broken postdoctoral system? According to a poll answered by 20,000 Nature readers, the answer is clear: postdocs need permanent, better-paid staff-scientist positions. But investigators who have already tried offering the jobs say that the change would mean downsizing their laboratories.

Nature: The future of the postdoc
There are a growing number of postdocs and few places in academia for them to go. But change could be on the way, according to this Nature article.

Efficiency in Health paper
The Productivity Commission has identified and assessed opportunities to improve the operation of Australia’s health care system. This is based on a roundtable the commission held with health policy experts in November 2014, as well as follow-up research.

Analysis of NHMRC-funded dementia research and its outcomes
A report featuring an analysis of the outcomes of NHMRC funded dementia research (2003-2013) is now available on the NHMRC website.

ABS mental health statistics – psychological disability
This Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) release focuses on psychological disability data collected in the 2012 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers. It presents an overview of psychological disability in Australia, including information on prevalence, coexisting conditions and impairments, assistance needed and received, and participation in education and employment.

ABS Causes of Death, Australia, 2013
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Australia, accounting for almost 20,000 deaths in 2013, according to ABS figures. However, deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have increased, and now outrank cerebrovascular diseases as the second leading cause of death of Australians.

Eyes on the future: A clear outlook on age-related macular degeneration
This Deloitte Access Economics report provides the most current, comprehensive compilation of macular degeneration statistics and research undertaken in Australia.

6.  Funding & award opportunities

AMP Tomorrow Fund grants
AMP is looking for Australians who are working to make a difference in their chosen field. Scientists, artists, inventors, social innovators, musicians and more can apply. For your chance to share in $1 million in grants, apply before 14 May.

2015 NSW Premier’s Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research
These awards honour the achievements of the individuals and teams that work across the cancer research sector to lessen the impact of cancer for the people of NSW. Nominations close on 20 May.

Macular Disease Foundation Australia Research Grants Program
Applications are now open for the 2015 round of grants for research commencing in 2016. A total of $1.3 million for multiple grants is available. Applications close 1 June.

Ian Potter Foundation grants
The Ian Potter Foundation is now accepting applications for science, travel and conference grants. Applications close on 23 June.

Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme
The Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme will support exchanges for Australian researchers to spend time at partner institutions in Germany and for collaborating German researchers to spend time at Australian universities. The support of early career researchers and junior scholars is a significant focus. Applications close on 30 June.

Affordable dialysis prize
Three of the leading players in global kidney health have joined together to create a world-wide competition, with a prize of US$100,000, to design the world’s first truly affordable dialysis machine that runs on solar power and rechargeable batteries. The competition closes on 31 December.

7. Upcoming conferences & events

ECR Network and RiAus: Taking science communication to the next level, 4 May
Dr Paul Willis (Director, RiAus) and RiAus producers Ben Lewis and Casey Harrigan will bring their television, radio, online, and live experience to discuss the importance of communicating science and how to get your research message across to various audiences. The event will be livestreamed at riaus.org.au/livestreaming

2015 Life Sciences Industry in Parliament luncheon, Brisbane, 7 May
LSIP 2015 will seek to stimulate discussion and engagement with the Queensland Government and raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities that the life sciences provide for a diversified Queensland economy. The event will explore the role life sciences innovation plays in Queensland’s economic and social development. Free for Lifesciences Qld members, $55 for non-members. Bookings close 29 April.

Post Budget health briefing, Canberra, 14 May
The 2015 Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) Post Budget Health Briefing will be held over breakfast at Parliament House with Health Minister Sussan Ley as the keynote speaker.

NHMRC Women in Health Science workshop, Melbourne, 25 May
The NHMRC will host a workshop at the University of Melbourne/Florey Institute focused on metrics for assessing career disruptions and key factors that should underpin assessment of applicants applying for re-entry fellowships. Entry is free but places are limited.

Bionics Institute’s 2015 annual public lecture, Melbourne, 3 June
Providing the keynote address – Innovation in Australia: Are we losing the plot? – will be Mark Dodgson, Professor of Innovation Studies at the University of Queensland Business School and Visiting Professor at Imperial College London. Register by 27 May.

Health professions educators’ leadership program, Sydney, 24-26 June
This 2.5 day program is aimed at current or aspiring health professions education leaders working in university, clinical and research environments who wish to develop their leadership understanding and skills. The program is run by Macquarie University and Swansea University, and costs $750.

NFMRI Medical Research Innovation Conference, Sydney, 9-10 September
This National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation conference will bring together local and international experts to explore general themes focused on how the right private and social investments in medical research can lead to the advancement of innovations, and how these investments may be made in areas that improve the current system and therefore increase Australia’s capability and capacity to deliver results.