AAMRI eNews 4th edition 2017

AAMRI eNews 4th edition 2017

5th May, 2017

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – 457 visas, Federal Budget 2017
  2. Government update – Vic Budget win for medical research, and more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – New ARC CEO appointed, and more
  4. Sector news – Hudson Institute Director appointed, MND funding, and more
  5. Reports & resources
  6. Funding & award opportunities
  7. Events & conferences

1. AAMRI news

Changes to Australia’s migration programme affecting medical research
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 lecturers 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. It is expected that the medium and long-term skilled occupation list will next be updated on 1 July.

AAMRI President Professor Tony Cunningham has featured on Lateline and in News.com.au on the issue. AAMRI is continuing to put the case to the Government for a visa pathway that allows the brightest and the best medical researchers to undertake their research in Australia.

An overview of what the changes mean to medical research institutes is available by contacting AAMRI’s Director of Policy & Operations, Dr Peter Thomas on peter.thomas@aamri.org.au
Federal Budget update
AAMRI will send out a Federal Budget update on Wednesday, including analysis for its impact on health and medical research. In the meantime, you can read AAMRI’s pre-Budget submission. Announcements relating to the Medical Research Future Fund, research infrastructure and the R&D tax incentive are all areas to keep an eye on.

2.  Government update 

Global Connections Fund Bridging Grants
The Federal Government has opened applications for Australian-based small and medium businesses and researchers to access grants through the Global Connections Fund Bridging Grants. Up to $50,000 per grant is available to support international SME-researcher partnerships to grow into collaborations that lead to the translation of research knowledge and intellectual property into market ready products or services.
An online eligibility test is the first part of a two-step process of the formal application. The online eligibility test closes on 16 May.

Australia-China Science and Research Fund
Priority areas have been announced for Round 3 of the Australia-China Science and Research Fund Joint Research Centres, including: new materials in manufacturing; effective technologies for individuals to manage their own health care; and better models of health care and services. The round is expected to open in the second half of this year.

New government-funded initiative to increase eye health access for Indigenous Australians
Diabetes-related blindness in Indigenous Australians is 14 times higher than in non-Indigenous populations and 94% of vision loss in Aboriginal communities is preventable or treatable. To help overcome this, the Federal Government is funding a national program to provide eye health testing equipment, and also training and support for the health services using the equipment, in more than 100 sites across Australia.

Vic: Budget win for medical research
The Victorian Budget featured good news for the state’s medical research institutes with a 25 per cent increase in operational infrastructure support costs. Genomics was also a winner, with $8.3 million allocated to fund public access to genomics testing for children and adults with rare conditions and diseases.

WA: Premier’s Science Fellowship launched
This new fellowship will provide $1.5 million over four years to attract a leading researcher and a supporting early to mid-career researcher to Western Australia, to work in the area of human phenomics research and data analysis.

Qld: Genomics researchers advance health care
The Queensland Government is positioning the state as a world leader in the translation of genomics research into healthcare practice, announcing the first recipients of its $25 million Queensland Genomics Health Alliance funding of $4.8 million.
The Queensland Government also announced it has funded a Sunshine Coast startup to develop an online platform that tracks, improves and assesses clinical competencies of healthcare professionals.

SA: $4 million funding to drive innovation in healthy ageing
The Healthy Ageing project will bring together the aged care industry with top research institutions to overhaul the way information is collected and used, to improve health services and reduce hospital admissions for older South Australians.


Professor Sue Thomas appointed as CEO of ARC
Professor Sue Thomas, Provost and esteemed researcher from The University of New England, will play an influential role in advancing Australian research as the new CEO of the ARC, to commence on 3 July. AAMRI put out a media release congratulating Professor Thomas on her appointment.

NHMRC Structural Review: brief update
While a final decision has not yet been reached, the NHMRC advises that the review is in its final stages.

NHMRC Targeted Calls for Research into mental health of older Australians
The NHMRC has opened two Targeted Calls for Research (TCR) to address important aspects of mental health in older Australians. The first TCR focuses on Dementia in Indigenous Australians. The second TCR is for research applications addressing Depression, Anxiety and Suicide in Elderly Australians.

NHMRC Women in Health Science Working Committee
The NHMRC Women in Health Science Working Committee was established to gain a better understanding of the issues that women researchers face in health and medical research and barriers to career progression. The Committee recently met and a summary of the meeting is online.

Ethical guidelines on the use of assisted reproductive technology in clinical practice and research, 2017
The NHMRC has released the Ethical guidelines on the use of assisted reproductive technology in clinical practice and research, 2017 (ART guidelines). This update replaces the 2007 ART guidelines and provides contemporary ethical guidance for the conduct of ART in the clinical setting. The ART guidelines articulate ethical principles and, when read in conjunction with federal and state or territory legislation, create a robust framework for the conduct of ART in Australia. The revised guidelines are developed around a set of guiding principles, with practical advice and examples on how to apply and use these principles in the clinical setting.

NHMRC Report on the Evidence: promoting social and emotional development and wellbeing of infants in pregnancy and the first year of life
This report:
a) summarises the findings of a comprehensive evaluation of 51 systematic reviews that was commissioned by NHMRC
b) provides a Working Committee’s assessment and interpretation of the evidence in the Australian context through its application of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach
c) is designed for governments and other policy makers, researchers and service providers
d) aims to facilitate the development of evidence-based policy in Australia.

4.  Sector news

New Hudson Institute Director and CEO announced
Professor Elizabeth Hartland has accepted a position as the new Director and CEO of Hudson Institute of Medical Research, an AAMRI member. Professor has held a Royal Society/NHMRC Howard Florey Fellowship at Imperial College London, academic positions in the Department of Microbiology, Monash University and an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship at the University of Melbourne.
Professor Hartland will commence as Director and CEO in August 2017.

BioCurate CEO appointed
Dr C. Glenn Begley has been appointed as CEO of BioCurate. Dr Begley has held senior academic positions in Australia, and worked in small biotech and large pharmaceutical companies. Most recently he was the Chief Scientific Officer of a privately-funded biotech company in California. BioCurate is an $80 million venture that was launched last year by Monash and Melbourne universitites, and supported by the Victorian Government.

Funding Boost to Fast Track World-First MND Research
The Victorian Government will provide $3 million towards a project that will fast-track drug discoveries to treat and fight Motor Neurone Disease (MND). The Government is partnering with the Cure for MND Foundation and the Florey Institute to deliver the project, which will use a world-first drug screening platform and Nobel Prize winning stem cell technology to rapidly identify potential new drug discoveries.

Innovation Delegation Report from the CRC Association
Tony Peacock, CEO of the Co-operative Research Centres Association, joined Chief Scientist Alan Finkel as part of an innovation delegation to Germany, Switzerland and France recently, and has written about the experience.

5.  Reports and resources

Under the radar: The mental health of Australian university students
Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health has released a major report that shows that while Australia provides world-class education and is an international leader in youth mental health, the mental health of university students has been largely ignored.

Changing the Status Quo: Marguerite Evans-Galea
This interview is part of a series talking to people and organisations who are changing the status quo of science.

Taxpayers shell out more than $3 million for unreliable research
Twenty-one research projects largely funded by the federal government breached integrity standards in the past two years, figures from the Australian Research Council reveal. The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s Professor David has been campaigning for stronger research integrity for years, and was interviewed by ABC Radio on the topic.

Life expectancy and disability in Australia: expected years living with and without disability
Australians are living longer, and their state of health in these years has important implications for population health and wellbeing and for Australia’s health and care systems. Between 2003 and 2015, life expectancy at birth increased for both sexes, and most of this increase corresponded with an increase in years living free of disability and free of severe or profound core activity limitation. Older Australians have also seen increases in the expected number of years living free of disability.

AIHW report: Autism in Australia
The Autism in Australia web snapshot shows that an estimated 164,000 people had autism in 2015, representing about 1 in 150 Australians.

Impact of overweight and obesity as a risk factor for chronic conditions
This report updates and extends estimates of the burden due to overweight and obesity reported in the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 to include burden in people aged under 25, revised diseases linked to overweight and obesity based on the latest evidence, and estimates by socioeconomic group.

AIHW Report: Older Australia at a glance
In 2016, approximately 3.7 million people (15 per cent of Australia’s total projected population of 24.3 million) were older Australians. This new release provides insights into this group of older Australians: who they are, how they are changing, how healthy they are and the services they are using.

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia, 2015-16: key findings
In 2015-16, around 796 alcohol and other drug treatment services provided just over 206,000 treatment episodes to an estimated 133,000 clients.

AIHW: Incidence of selected cancers in 2006-2010
Local information about cancer incidence – newly diagnosed cases of cancer – offers important context for local health care professionals.
Cancer incidence rates are provided for all cancers combined as well as breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, lung and melanoma of the skin. Cancers were selected based on their importance to public health care providers because they are the most commonly diagnosed, have modifiable risk factors or have a population-based screening program.

Review of response to the thunderstorm asthma event of 21–22 November 2016 – Final Report
Victoria’s thunderstorm asthma event of 21–22 November 2016 affected the health of thousands of Victorians and is thought to have contributed to the death of nine people. The Victorian Government requested the Inspector-General for Emergency Management to identify opportunities to learn from this event in order to improve future preparedness and response arrangements and performance.

6.  Funding & award opportunities

CSL Florey Medal nominations open
The Florey Medal is awarded biennially to an Australian biomedical researcher for significant lifetime achievements in biomedical science and/or human health advancement. In addition to the silver medal, the award carries a prize of $50,000 thanks to the generous support of CSL Limited. The award is presented at AAMRI’s Annual Dinner at Parliament House in Canberra. Nominations close 5 June.

AMP’s Tomorrow Fund offering $1 million
AMP’s Tomorrow Fund is offering Australians doing great things the chance to share in $1 million in grants. Individuals of all ages, abilities and interests who need help to reach a special goal with community impact can apply before 16 May.

Cancer Institute of NSW grants
The Cancer Institute of NSW as two grants open:  Innovations in Cancer Control Grants 2017– to 2018, closing on 14 May; and Translational Program Grants, closing on 1 June.

Research Essentials: Scholarship Application
PRAXIS Australia is committed to ensuring fair and equitable access to education for all. Its Member partner, Bellberry Limited has offered a number of $1000 scholarships to all students across the research workforce. Apply ASAP, with successful applicants being announced on 20 May

Celebrating the best in WA science
The Premier’s Science Awards, which are now in their 16th year, celebrate the Western Australia’s best in scientific research and engagement.  The awards cover all fields of science including natural, medical, applied and technological science, engineering and mathematics. Nominations are now open, along with nominations for the 2017 Western Australian Science Hall of Fame. Applications close 22 May.

Australian Technologies Competition
The Australian Technologies Competition & Accelerator Program is looking for Australia’s best technology companies. They will assess, mentor, profile and promote innovative and emerging technologies, that have the greatest global potential. Entries close 23 May.

Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants
Ramaciotti Health Investment Grants are awarded to individuals in universities, public hospitals or institutes for a contribution towards the undertaking of health or medical research with a potential path to clinical application within five years. A Health Investment Grant is intended to provide enabling research support for an autonomous early career investigator who is taking or has recently taken a substantive position. Applications close 31 May.

Superstars of STEM
Superstars of STEM will smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM. The team will work with 30 of the nation’s most dynamic scientists and technologists to create role models for young women and girls, and work towards equal representation in the media of men and women in STEM. The Superstars will be equipped with advanced communication skills and provided with opportunities to use them – in the media, on the stage, and in speaking with decision-makers. The program will also connect participants through a mentoring network, to encourage them to learn from women who have crafted a profile for themselves and who already serve as role models.

2017 ACT Scientist of the Year Award open for nominations
The 2017 ACT Scientist of the Year Award recognises the achievements of an up-and-coming scientist and celebrates Canberra’s excellence in scientific research and innovation. To be eligible, scientists need to have completed their PhD in the past ten years and be working in the ACT in basic or applied research and science in all fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Applicants need to respond to three selection criteria and provide two referee reports. The Award is accompanied by $30,000 in prize money. Nominations close 15 June.

Australia- Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme
The Australia-Germany Joint Research Co-operation Scheme is a joint initiative of Universities Australia and the German Academic Exchange Service. The scheme fosters research collaboration of the highest quality between Australian researchers from Universities Australia member universities and German researchers from German universities and research institutes. Applications close on 16 June.

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia grants
The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia is calling for applications in three categories of funding: Clinician Scientist Award, John Mills Young Investigator Award and New Concept Grants. Applications close 19 June.

2017 Victoria Fellowships
In recognition of the important role of innovation to Victoria’s economic future and the need for Victorians to be skilled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the Victorian Government will provide 12 Victoria Fellowships. Each Fellow receives a travel grant of up to $18,000 to undertake a short-term overseas study mission to assist in developing a commercial idea; undertaking specialist training; or career development not available in Australia. Applications close 22 June.

Australian Cancer Research Foundation grants
The ACRF is seeking grant applications for amounts between $1.5m and $5m for cancer research under the following categories:

  • Capital works
  • Major equipment grants
  • Highly specialised reagents/standards that are essential for the operation of the equipment to be purchased in support of the detailed cancer research program.

Applications close 23 June.

2017 Hugh Rogers Fellowships
The Melbourne Boston Sister Cities Association’s Hugh Rogers Fellowships are inspired by the late Hugh Rogers, enabling the association to fulfil his goal of taking great Melbourne talent to Boston. The health care and medical research Fellowship is not intended to fund basic research. It is intended to encourage and support innovative research, and in 2016 preference will be given to projects that show promise to deliver early public health benefits and/or or clinical outcomes, or alternatively, hold the promise of early commercialisation.
Each Hugh Rogers Fellowship is intended to fund a self-contained, and sustainable, research project of a short (2-8 weeks) duration, to be undertaken in an institution in Boston. Applications close 21 July.

$8.2 million funding from MTPConnect
MTPConnect – the Industry Growth Centre for the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical (MTP) sectors – has announced the second round of its $15.6 million Project Fund Program will open on 3 July. The second round includes $8.2 million in funding.
Applicants to the second round will need to demonstrate their idea is collaborative and industry-led, delivers results on a national scale with a sector-wide impact, and is aligned with MTPConnect’s sector growth priorities. Any funding from the program will also need to be matched at least dollar-for-dollar by the sector.

7.  Events & conferences

Australian MedTech Innovation – The Clinical Research Landscape, Sydney, 11 May
This full day forum will provide an update of ongoing reforms in clinical research, its implementation progress, roadblocks and success seen thus far to inform whether the long-term goal of leading the world in clinical trials research is attainable. In addition, sponsors, start-ups companies and clinical researchers will have an opportunity to discuss and share their invaluable experience from years of conducting medical devices clinical trials in Australia.

Social demands, bias and inequality as possible explanations for the under representation of women at senior levels in the medical sciences, Melbourne, 11 May, free
In many of the medical sciences, men and women are equally represented up to post-doctoral level but the proportions of women drop off in the levels above that role. Many explanations have been offered for this set of outcomes. Some have been researched. In this seminar, three of those explanations (social demands, bias and inequality) and related evidence will be discussed, along with possible solutions to the problems that they pose.

Italy – Australia Science and Innovation Forum, Canberra, 15 May, free
This forum aims to inform and highlight the science and innovation capabilities of Italy and Australia, and to identify mechanisms and processes for enhancing bilateral cooperation in science and innovation.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Applications in Health & Medtech, Melbourne, 23 May, free
This event has been developed with CSIRO to present the latest Virtual Reality and Augmented Realuty technologies through presentations and hands-on demonstrations of current and potential industry applications.

AusMedtech 2017 & International Conference on Mechanics in Medicine and Biology (ICMMB) 2017, Melbourne, 24-25 May
AusMedtech, Australia’s premier medical technology conference, will be co-presented with the International Conference on Mechanics in Medicine and Biology (ICMMB) for the first time. The joint conference will bring together key stakeholders of the Australian and international medical devices and diagnostics sector to explore topics such as biomaterials, medical devices, assistive technologies for an ageing population, tissue engineering, 3D printing and the mechanics of future medicine.

Women and Heart Disease Forum, Sydney, 14 June
This one day forum highlights emerging research and clinical advances from across disciplines and shines a light on the lived experience of women with heart disease. Join Professor Garry Jennings, the Heart Foundation’s Chief Medical Advisor, leading Australian researchers, clinicians and community health professionals in this inaugural cross-disciplinary Women and Heart Disease event.

Visualizing Biological Data, Sydney, 14-16 June
VIZBI 2017 features keynotes from Daniel Keim, Tamara Munzner, and Drew Berry, in addition to talks from 18 world-leading researchers showcasing visualizations transforming how life scientists view data, and driving key advances in molecular biology, systems biology, biomedical science, and ecology.