AAMRI eNews 9th edition 2016

AAMRI eNews 9th edition 2016

3rd November, 2016

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – AAMRI legal templates, R&D Tax submission, and more
  2. Government update – $7M boost for med tech & pharma, and more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – NHMRC grants for lung disease, and more
  4. Sector news – Google Impact Challenge winners, and more
  5. Reports & resources
  6. Funding & other opportunities
  7. Events & conferences

1. AAMRI news

AAMRI launches legal templates to foster collaboration
Collaboration between medical research institutes and industry has been made easier thanks to a series of template contracts released by AAMRI. The templates, launched last week at the AusBiotech Australia’s Life Sciences Conference, are designed for use by MRIs and industry to facilitate innovation and collaboration.

The three template contracts are:

We hope these templates will result in even more collaboration between MRIs and industry.

AAMRI Convention – next week!
The AAMRI Convention and Annual Dinner will take place in Canberra next week. We’ll be filming much of the convention and dinner, so if you can’t make it you can catch up online. The Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, will be our keynote speaker at the AAMRI Dinner at Parliament House. The following day the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, will be our guest for the AAMRI President’s breakfast. The breakfast will be Doug Hilton’s last official event as AAMRI President, with Tony Cunningham taking the reins at the AGM to follow.

R&D Tax submission
AAMRI’s submission to the R&D Tax Review supports:

  • retaining the current definition of eligible activities and expenses
  • the development of plain English summaries, case studies and public rulings to assist those using the programme
  • the proposal for a 20 percent collaboration premium for the collaborative element of expenditures undertaken with Publicly-Funded Research Organisations (PFROs — including medical research institutes)
  • the publication of the names and companies claiming the R&D Tax Incentive and the amounts of R&D expenditure claimed.

2.  Government update 

$7.4 million boost to med tech and pharma sector
The Federal Government has announced $7.4 million over two years in dollar-matched, industry-led projects to boost competitiveness and productivity in the medical technology and pharmacy sector. The funding supports innovative projects that will develop and increase commercialisation of new medical therapies, devices and digital health systems, and could leverage as much as $32 million of industry partner funds. AAMRI member Murdoch Childrens Research Institute is one of the beneficiaries.

Innovation and Science Australia Bill passes parliament
The Australian Parliament has passed the Innovation and Science Australia Bill. This establishes in legislation Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) – the organisation charged with helping the Fderal Government complete the three waves of the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

New arrangements for university research block grants in 2017
The Australian Government has implemented changes to research block grant arrangements for universities commencing next year. The new arrangements are designed to drive greater research‑industry engagement by substantially boosting incentives for collaboration with business and organisations that use the outcomes of research.

Consultation on draft Fifth National Mental Health Plan
The community is being invited to have their say on a new national plan that aims to improve the lives of people with mental health issues. The Department of Health is partnering with Mental Health Australia to hold consultation meetings in all capital cities, with additional forums to be held in Townsville and Alice Springs, between 7 November and 2 December. An opportunity to submit written feedback will also be available shortly.

Consultation – National Innovation and Science Agenda: Employee Share Schemes
An Issues Paper has been released for comment on Employee Share Schemes and the disclosure of information to ASIC for start-up companies. Comments are due by 7 December.

Draft report: Data Availability and Use
This draft report was released today. You are invited to examine the draft report and to make written submissions by 12 December. The final report is expected to be handed to the Australian Government in March 2017.

Consultation – Software as a Medical Device: Clinical Evaluation
The International Medical Device Regulators Forum Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) Working Group seeks to develop guidance that supports innovation and timely access to safe and effective SaMD globally. The group is currently developing guidance for the clinical evaluation of (and evidence for) SaMD, and has released a proposed guidance for public comment. The Therapeutic Goods Administration is inviting interested parties to comment on the document by 2 December.

Vic: New Medicines Manufacturing Centre
The Victorian Government will invest $4 million in a world-class medicines manufacturing centre to help Victoria’s pharmaceutical industry create new products, grow exports and develop skills. The new Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre will be led by Monash University and supported by global pharmaceuticals company GlaxoSmithKline, and the state government.

Qld: Green light for genomics
The Queensland Government has announced a $25 million five-year commitment to the Queensland Genomics Health Alliance. The first round of funding is open to teams of researchers and clinicians, and will cover four disease specific projects and five projects that relate to capability and skills.

Qld: Gene technology laws lock-stepped to Commonwealth legislation
The Queensland Government has legislated to ensure its gene technology laws are in lock-step with Commonwealth legislation, but win an important ‘opt-out’ provision. Queensland’s biotechnology industry is set to benefit from the new legislation, designed to deliver greater certainty for gene technology R&D in the state. In Australia, gene technology R&D mainly falls under Commonwealth legislation.


Statement on grants from NHMRC CEO
NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso has offered her congratulations to the recently announced NHMRC fellowship and grant recipients. She has also responded to an on-line petition that was circulated last week calling for the date of the release of NHMRC grant results to be fixed in advance. She said she understood the appeal of this proposal, but there were number of issues that need to be considered when considering such an approach.

2016 Project Grant External Assessors
To recognise the best of the best NHMRC peer reviewers, an Honour Roll listing those External Assessors who provided outstanding contributions to Grant Review Panels for 2016 is now available.

Pharmacy Trial Program
The Department of Health is seeking to fund organisations to run innovative trials in community pharmacies or with community pharmacists. Applications are due by 15 December. Email questions to grant.ATM@health.gov.au

NHMRC supports global research to reduce chronic lung diseases
The NHMRC has announced almost $5 million in funding for the prevention and management of chronic lung diseases. The NHMRC participated in a request for research applications from the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD). The GACD is a collaboration of major international public research funding agencies that funds joint research programs to address chronic non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries and in vulnerable populations in high-income countries, such as Indigenous people.

ARC National Competitive Grants announced
The ARC has announced 989 new research projects that will receive funding from $416.6 million allocated through the ARC’ National Competitive Grants Programme. The schemes for which projects have received funding include:

  • Discovery Projects for funding commencing in 2017—$234.7 million for 630 projects
  • Discovery Indigenous for funding commencing in 2017—$4.6 million for 11 projects
  • Discovery Early Career Researcher Award for funding commencing in 2017—$71.7 million for 200 projects
  • Future Fellowships for funding commencing in 2016—$77.0 million for 100 projects.
  • Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment, and Facilities for funding commencing in 2017—$28.6 million for 48 projects

ARC Statement of Support for Interdisciplinary Research
The ARC Statement of Support for Interdisciplinary Research confirms ARC’s commitment to support the highest-quality fundamental and applied research across all disciplines. This includes fostering excellence in research that traverses or transcends disciplinary boundaries and which synthesise or integrate methods and knowledge from multiple disciplinary domains.

ARC Industrial Transformation Research Programme 2017
Proposals for Industrial Transformation Research Hubs commencing in 2017 and Industrial Transformation Training Centres are now open in the Research Management System and will close on 15 December.

4.  Sector news

AAMRI members win in Google Global Impact Challenge
Congratulations to The George Institute for Global Health and the Centre for Eye Research Australia for both winning $750,000 grants in the Google Global Impact Challenge.

Zero Childhood Cancer Collaboration Network receives $20 million
The Zero Childhood Cancer Collaboration Network – a network of researchers, doctors and patients – today received $20 million from the Federal Government to help improve health outcomes for children with cancer. The Network will bring together six hospital and seven research centres across Australia to improve the way experts work together to lead to quicker diagnoses, speedier treatments decisions and improved health outcomes.

UoW to self-fund medical research hub
The University of Wollongong has revealed plans for an $80 million world-leading medical research facility. The research centre will include a $7 million Titan Krios cryo-electron microscope, which would be Australia’s second and most advanced of its kind.

Starting the conversation between industry and academia
The EMCR Forum would like your opinion and experience about how Australia can best bridge the divide between industry and universities. A discussion paper offers offers some insight and the Forum is also looking for case studies from EMCRs currently bridging this gap. Feedback on the consultation draft is due by 13 November, with a plan to create a best practices guide in the new year.

New survey provides valuable data on the status of eye health conditions
The Australian Government has launched the National Eye Health Survey Report on the prevalence and causes of vision impairment and blindness around the nation.

Victorians to benefit from new regenerative medicine
The first Australian node of the Centre for Commercialisation of Regenerative Medicine will be established in Victoria. It will focus on technology development, company creation and speeding up commercialising regenerative medicine technologies and cell-based therapies, and will involve AAMRI member, the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute.

Agreement reached between world-leading health research bodies
Health research in Queensland is set for a significant boost following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Chinese genomics organisation BGI. Under the MoU, signed during a visit to Shenzhen in China, both parties will collaborate to establish a joint genomics-based research program.

Innovation and Science Australia update
ISA has met with more than 200 stakeholders from higher education, research and business sectors through one-on-one meetings, digital engagement and a series of roundtables. A draft report on this consultation was provided to the ISA board last month for comment and the team is revising the report for further consideration. The report is on track for board sign-off and delivery to government in December.

5.  Reports and resources

Is the NHMRC funding process fair?
An article in The Conversation by geneticist Gaetan Burgio, who is a Group Leader at AAMRI member the John Curtin School of Medical Research.

Nature Index: A tale of two cities
The Nature Index has measured variations in high-quality natural science output and collaborations, and provides evidence of where Sydney and Melbourne diverge. It has also found significant state government investment along with philanthropic largesse has helped drive Brisbane’s research performance.

Life expectancy hits a new high
Life expectancy hit a new high in 2015, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

AIHW report: Mental health services
Mental health services—in brief 2016 provides an overview of data about the national response of the health and welfare system to the mental health care needs of Australians.

Radiotherapy in Australia: report on the second year of a pilot collection 2014–15
In this report on the second pilot year collection of national radiotherapy data, data were received from 66 out of 74 service locations across Australia. These services contributed information on more than 56,400 courses of radiotherapy delivered in 2014–15.

Heart disease rate in women shows need for action
The Hidden Hearts report, released by the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, reveals a stark contrast between women’s perception and the reality in regards to women’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

How much does research cost?
Datat entrepreneur Dr Nick Marsh has crunched the numbers on research for publications and found that the average investment in research per publication for 2014 was about $45,000, but varies enormously. The group of eight were the least cost-effective publishers, averaging more than $75,000 in research income per publication.

6.  Funding & other opportunities

Medical Device Commercialisation Training Program
This program offers an invaluable opportunity for NSW-based medical device researchers and clinicians providing learning opportunities for up to 200 NSW-based medical device researchers and clinicians each year over the next four years. Graduates of MDCTP have launched companies, engaged industry partners and raised more than $13 million in grants and private investment. Applications close 28 November.

Leadership opportunities at STA
Science & Technology Australia has opened nominations for four key positions on its Executive leadership team. The voluntary Executive Committee works with the CEO to shape STA’s strategy and priorities. President-elect, Secretary, Policy Committee Chair and ECR Representative positions are all open. Nominations close on 11 November. For more information email info@sta.org.au

Cure for MND Foundation opportunities
The Cure for MND Foundation has a number funding opportunities on offer, including for translational grants and phase 2 clinical trials. There is up to $1.5 million available for Phase 2 Clinical trial applications for novel, high-potential treatments for people living with MND/ALS for roll-out in Australian MND clinics. There is also up to $1 million available for Translational Research Grants-in-Aid for a three-year project.

CRC Program
Round 19 of the CRC Program will run from May 2017 and a number of bids are in development including Advanced Medical Biotechnology, and Vector-borne Tropical Disease. Contact the CRC Association if you are interested in further details about these bids (including potential collaboration): bids@crca.asn.au

7.  Events & conferences

Biomedical Commercialisation: Connecting talent in industry and academia, Sydney, 7 November, free
An expert panel discussion on fostering academia-industry networks, the importance of diversity in skills, culture and gender diversity, and partnering with pharmaceutical companies.

Australian Science Communicators 2017: call for papers and more
Science communication practitioners, researchers and facilitators are invited to submit expressions of interest to participate in the upcoming conference. For the first time, a digital program is on offer as well as a two-day on-site program so that members who cannot travel to attend the conference in person will still have an opportunity to participate in ASC2017 via online webinars, and be included in the program and online if selected. Proposals close on 6 November.