AAMRI eNews 5th edition 2015

AAMRI eNews 5th edition 2015

2nd June, 2015

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – MRFF legislation introduced into Parliament, AAMRI submission on tax arrangements for charities
  2. Government update – Boosting the Commerical Returns from Research, Review of CRCs, Research Training Review, and more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – New website to connect patients to clinical trials, NHMRC fellowships for working parents, and more
  4. Sector news – Institute amalgamations and name changes, scientist remuneration survey, and more
  5. Reports & resources
  6. Funding & award opportunities
  7. Upcoming conferences & events

1. AAMRI news

MRFF legislation introduced into Parliament
Treasurer Joe Hockey introduced the legislation to establish the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) into Parliament on 27 May. The MRFF Bill outlines the purpose of the MRFF as supporting medical research (including research into health) and medical innovation (including the commercialisation and application of medical research and its translation into new or improved treatments). Potentially eligible recipients of MRFF funding include medical research institutes, universities, Commonwealth corporate entities, corporations and State/Territory Governments. The MRFF also has the potential to support collaborative research with international partners.

The Bill has passed the House of Representatives but still needs Senate approval, and that is where you come in. AAMRI put out a media release welcoming the legislation’s introduction, as did the MRFF Action Group. The legislation is expected to be voted on in the Senate between 15 and 25 June. We encourage you all to contact cross-bench Senators in the next few weeks in support of the MRFF to help make sure the fund delivers health and medical research an additional $1 billion per year within the decade.

AAMRI submission on Tax Discussion Paper
The Federal Government’s Tax Discussion Paper includes a review of current tax arrangements for charities. AAMRI’s submission discusses the importance of charity tax concessions for medical research institutes, and suggests ways to improve the fairness and effectiveness of tax arrangements, including through the indexation of Fringe Benefits Tax exemption (salary packaging) caps with inflation.

2.  Government update 

Federal Budget 2015
For those who may have missed it, we put out a special Member Update the day after the Federal Budget. Budget highlights for health and medical research included more than $400 million in MRFF disbursements over the next four years, and an additional $15.3 million over four years for tropical health research and commercialisation. A range of other measures affect research more broadly.
We also did a media release following Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s Budget Reply Speech, which included commitments to science and technology. Both the Budget and the Opposition’s reply put science right at the heart of the political agenda.

New National Science and Research Priorities
The Federal Government has announced nine National Science and Research Priorities (including health), and corresponding Practical Research Challenges. The priorities are designed to increase investment in areas of immediate and critical importance, and it is expected that the proportion of government research investment allocated to these areas will increase over time. The priorities will be reviewed every two years.

Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research
In response to consultations on the Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research discussion paper, the Federal Government announced that it will take actions to improve the extent of collaboration between research and industry in Australia, including:

  • Publishing the national science and research priorities.
  • Developing simpler, more transparent research block grant arrangements that continue to focus on quality and excellence, support greater industry and end-user engagement, and better knowledge transfer with industry.
  • Examining the operation of the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive, within the broader context of reviewing the effectiveness of existing tax incentives for collaboration with public research institutions.
  • Working with the ARC and the NHMRC to ensure rules for competitive grants appropriately recognise industry-relevant expertise or research.
  • and a range of other measures.

Review of CRCs released
The Federal Minister for Industry and Science recently released the report of the Review of the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Programme. A total of 18 recommendations were made in the review report. The recommendations have been accepted by the Australian Government and will now be implemented.

Research training review
The Federal Government has commissioned the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) to undertake a review of Australia’s research training system to ensure that it meets Australia’s research needs in the 21st Century. ACOLA will engage with higher education and research institutions, peak bodies, industry, and government agencies to identify opportunities to improve research training in Australia.
The four learned academies that make up ACOLA are the Australian Academy of Science, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, the Academy of the Humanities, and the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

Consultation: Medical Technologies and Pharmaceutical Industry Growth Centre
Stakeholders are invited to participate in a range of consultations designed to shape the future of the medical technologies and pharmaceutical sector, including webinars, public forums and a survey.

Consultation: Standing Committee on Health inquiry into best practice for chronic disease prevention
Following a referral received from the Minister for Health, The Hon Sussan Ley MP, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health will inquire into and report on Chronic Disease Prevention and Management in Primary Health Care. The Committee invites interested persons and organisations to make a submission addressing the terms of reference. The deadline for submissions is 31 July 2015.

Senator Richard Di Natale new leader of the Greens
Following Senator Christine Milne’s resignation as Leader of the Greens, Senator Richard Di Natale has been appointed the party’s new leader. Senator Di Natale has a background as a GP and remains as the Greens health spokesperson.

Medical research a winner in Victorian Budget
AAMRI was pleased to see health and medical research take its place on centre stage in the Victorian Government’s 2015-16 budget. AAMRI President, Professor Doug Hilton, said the creation of a $200 million Future Industries Fund to grow six key sectors important to Victoria’s future, including medical technology and pharmaceuticals, was a welcome commitment.

Advance Queensland scheme
The new Queensland State Government’s Advance Queensland scheme will take over where the Smart State left off, focusing on translating science into economic returns. The $50 million package includes 100 research fellowships, 20 masters scholarships, a women’s academic fund, a knowledge transfer program and a three-year payroll tax holiday for companies attracted to Queensland by the research programs.


New website to connect patients to clinical trials
The Federal Government launched a new website to help patients connect with clinical trials. The website is intended to help boost patient participation following data showed that just under half of all Phase Three clinical trials conducted in Australia met their patient recruitment targets.

New NHMRC fellowships to help working parents
The NHMRC is planning to establish new re-entry fellowships that would be modeled on the four-year career development fellowship to help parents return to the scientific workforce. The new fellowships would be open to men and women who experience forced career breaks, but they are targeted at addressing the chronic under-representation of women in senior research levels that is driven by women having to put their careers on hold to have children. The Victorian government is also understood to be considering a similar fellowship scheme aimed at the sciences.

NHMRC Consultation: Clinical Trials Ready – Concept and Criteria
Have your say on a new NHMRC proposal to recognise sites, including public and private hospitals and other organisations, that are ready, willing and able to carry out clinical trials. Submissions close 26 June.

ARC Industrial Transformation Research Program funding announcement
Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, announced almost $40 million in research funding under the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Program (ITRP). The funding will see nine new research hubs and training centres commence research programs in priority research areas. View statistics on ITRP funding outcomes in the new RMS Announcement Module website.

4.  Sector news

Hudson Institute announced
MIMR-PHI Institute of Medical Research has been renamed the Hudson Institute of Medical Research to honour the late Professor Bryan Hudson, a scientist who was instrumental in the origins of the Monash Institute of Medical Research (MIMR) and Prince Henry’s Institute (PHI).

Schizophrenia Research Institute amalgamates into NeuRA
The NSW Government has committed $2.5 million to support the amalgamation of the Schizophrenia Research Institute into Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA).

O’Brien Institute merges with St Vincent’s Institute
The merger of the O’Brien Institute with St Vincent’s Institute represents a consolidation of two research organisations that already have much in common to deliver a bigger, stronger research body.

Interim Director for NARI announced
Clinical Associate Professor Briony Dow has been appointed interim Director of the National Ageing Research Institute. She began her new position on 25 May, following the retirement of Professor David Ames. Professor Ames led NARI since 2007.

ARMI Director appointed journal editor
Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute Director, Prof Nadia Rosenthal has been appointed the Editor-in-Chief of a new open access journal, npj Regenerative Medicine. The new journal is a collaboration between Nature Publishing Group and Monash University.

Survey: STA scientist remuneration survey
Science and Technology Australia is undertaking its 2015 Professional Scientist Remuneration Survey and invites you to participate by completing the online questionnaire. The survey closes on 19 June.

Consultation: Proposed changes to nutrition and health claims
Food Standards Australia New Zealand is calling for submissions on proposed changes to the nutrition and health claims standard. The proposal would provide exemptions from claim requirements in the Food Standards Code for trademarked elements of the Health Star Rating system. Submissions close 6 July.

ACNC Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement on Health Promotion Charities
Following consultation, the ACNC released the final Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement on Health Promotion Charities. The purpose of the document is to provide guidance to ACNC staff, charities and the public on the meaning and scope of the charity subtype of ‘health promotion charity’. Most medical research institutes are health promotion charities. AAMRI’s submission on the original draft statement can be found online.

5.  Reports and resources

National Strategy to address antibiotic overuse
A new national strategy will aim to reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance following statistics showing Australia’s consumption of antibiotics is among the highest in the developed world.

AIHW report: Trends in injury deaths, Australia: 1999-00 to 2009-10
This report looks at deaths due to injury in Australia, and shows a decline over the period 1999-00 to 2009-10. The report shows that the rate of injury deaths decreased by an average of 3% per year, from 55 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999-00 to 47 deaths per 100,000 in 2004-05, and then remained fairly stable to 2009-10.

AIHW report: Incidence of type 1 diabetes in Australia 2000-2013
This report presents the latest available national data on new cases of type 1 diabetes from Australia’s National (insulin-treated) Diabetes Register.

Report shows diabetic eye disease affecting workforce
The productivity of Australia’s workforce is being hit hard and may be even more so in the future by the impact of diabetic macular oedema, according to a new report supported by Macular Disease Foundation Australia and Diabetes Australia.

State of Salt report
The number of deaths linked to high salt intake is six times higher than Victoria’s annual road toll, the State of Salt report says. AAMRI member, The George Institute has entered into a partnership with VicHealth to reduce Victorians’ salt intake.

NHMRC Statement and Information Paper on the impacts of lead on human health
The NHMRC Statement and Information Paper summarises the evidence on the effects of lead on human health, and recommends that if a person has a blood lead level greater than 5 micrograms per decilitre that the source of lead exposure should be investigated and reduced.

The retirement debate: Stay at the bench, or make way for the next generation
When and how to exit research has become a charged issue in science. This Nature article examines some of the issues.

6.  Funding & award opportunities

JDRF-Macquarie Group Foundation Diabetes Research Innovation Awards
The Type 1 Diabetes Global Research Innovation Awards recognise innovative researchers who can influence research advances and develop global collaboration in the field of type 1 diabetes. The winner will receive up to $5000 to independently undertake up to 4 weeks’ short-term research that will influence their approach in addressing the focus of their work. The collaborating research group must be located internationally, and must provide the winner with important new skills and expertise to further their research. Applications close 21 June.

Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation
The Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation celebrates leadership, determination, endeavour and creativity. These prestigious prizes are for a scientific discovery or technological innovation, or a series of such achievements that significantly advances knowledge.  The clear potential to produce a commercial outcome or other substantial benefit to the community will be highly regarded. Nominations close 25 June.

2015 Victoria Fellowships
Victoria Fellowships provide 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. Additionally, Fellows can apply for the Australian French Association for Science and Technology (AFAS) Associate Award valued at up to $5,000. Nominations close 25 June.

National Breast Cancer Foundation Grants and Fellowships
The National Breast Cancer Foundation has a range of grants and fellowships on offer, including Infrastructure Grants, Innovator Grants, Pilot Study Grants, Practitioner Grants and a new Breast Cancer Research Leadership Fellowship Scheme. Applications for the various schemes close between 26 June and 31 July.

IRT Foundation’s Research Grant Program
IRT Foundation’s Research Grant Program supports leading Australian researchers to improve the mind, mobility and lifestyle of Australian seniors. Applications for grants are invited from Australian researchers and institutions with expertise on topics affecting older Australians. Applications close 29 June.

Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships
Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships are internationally competitive, merit-based scholarships provided by the Australian Government that support citizens around the world to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia and for Australians to do the same overseas. Applications for the latest round close 30 June.

2015 CSL Florey Medal
The 2015 CSL Florey Medal will be awarded to an Australian biomedical researcher for significant achievements in biomedical science and/or human health advancement for research conducted primarily in Australia. The medal will be presented at the AAMRI Annual Dinner on 11 November. Applications close 3 July.

GSK Award for Research Excellence
Now in its 35th year, the GSK Award acknowledges outstanding Australian researchers and their work, and is accompanied by an $80,000 grant to assist the winner on their research journey. Successful applicants are generally mid-career researchers with a long-standing commitment to their field. Nominations close 3 July.

Research Australia Awards
The Research Australia Awards recognise and celebrate leaders who have made significant contributions to health and medical research in Australia. Awards are presented across the categories of discovery, health services research, advocacy, philanthropy and lifetime achievement. Nominations close 6 July.

Millennium Technology Prize
The Millennium Technology Prize, worth 1 million euros, is one of the world’s leading science and technology awards. The prize is given every two years to a technological innovation that enhances the quality of people’s lives and contributes to sustainable growth. Candidates for the prize are sought across the world and from all fields of technology, apart from military technology. The prize can be awarded to a single individual or to a team, and it is open to innovators of all nationalities. Nominations close 31 July.

7. Upcoming conferences & events

IP Forum: Driving an IP strategy, Sydney, 18 June
This event will feature practical workshops for participants and expert speakers including Doron Ben-Meir, Hamish Hawthorn and Ashley Newland. The workshops will focus on trademarks for start-ups and how to access government grants and assistance. This event is free and registration is essential.

Australian Society for Microbiology Annual Scientific Meeting, Canberra, 12-15 July
This microbiology conference attracts microbiologists, allied professionals, researchers and academics from across the country and around the world.

Tech Transfer Summit Australia, Brisbane, 24-25 September
AusBiotech will holds its third Tech Transfer Summit Australia, to be held in Brisbane this September. The summit is the premier global meeting for all areas of technology transfer including universities, medical research institutes, investors and early stage and mature biotech companies.

ComBio2015, Melbourne, 27 September-1 October
ComBio2015 will include conference streams on cancer biology, neuroscience, and regenerative and developmental biology.

World Science Festival to be held in Brisbane
Brisbane will be the Asia-Pacific host city for the World Science Festival in March 2016, an “exciting and inspirational” forum for the world’s brightest thinkers. If you’d like to nominate a scientist to be involved then please email Robert Debelle at the Queensland Museum.