AAMRI eNews October 2014

AAMRI eNews October 2014

4th November, 2014

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – New AAMRI President & Board member, AAMRI National Convention, MRFF Action Group
  2. Government update – Review of independent MRIs, Industry Innovation & Competitiveness Agenda, Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research, and much more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – NHMRC grants announcement, dementia research priorities, ARC medical research policy update, and more
  4. Sector news – New IP database, New CSIRO CEO, PM Science Prizes, Biomedical Materials Transformation Facility, researchers-in-industry fellowships, and more
  5. Reports & resources
  6. Funding & award opportunities
  7. Upcoming conferences & events

1. AAMRI news

New AAMRI President and Board member

AAMRI wishes a fond farewell to outgoing President, Professor Brendan Crabb. Brendan’s final speech as AAMRI President, delivered at Great Hall in Parliament House, is available here.

We welcome new AAMRI President, Professor Doug Hilton, Director of the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute. Read about Doug’s priorities as incoming President here, and watch his first interview as President, discussing the importance of the Medical Research Future Fund on ABC24’s Capital Hill program.









We also welcome new AAMRI board member, Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Director of the Telethon Kids Institute. Jonathan replaces outgoing board member and former AAMRI President, Professor Garry Jennings.


AAMRI 2014 National Convention and Annual Dinner wrap-up

AAMRI’s 2014 National Convention was the most successful yet, with almost 100 delegates from medical research institutes across the country converging on Canberra to discuss and celebrate medical research. The Medical Research Future Fund was a focus of the convention, as was funding for the indirect costs of research, benchmarking and community engagement in research.

As for our dinner, it was our first year in the marvellous Great Hall of Parliament House. Attendees included the Minister for Health the Hon Peter Dutton MP, other Ministers, Shadow Ministers, MPs, Senators and MRI directors and board chairs. We were privileged to have Prime Minister Tony Abbott as our guest speaker. A transcript of the Prime Minister’s speech is available online. Photos from the dinner can be found here.

CSL Young Florey Medal

The inaugural CSL Young Florey Medal was also awarded at the AAMRI Annual Dinner. Congratulations to Professor Carola Vinuesa on winning the medal, and the accompanying $25,000 prize.

MRFF Action Group update

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Action Group continues to meet with Federal Parliamentarians from all sides of politics. AAMRI member institutes, including QIMR Berghofer, the Bionics Institute and the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, have also hosted visits from key Senators to demonstrate the importance of health and medical research to Australia’s future.

You can catch up on news generated by the campaign, or voice your support for the MRFF via the How You Can Help page of the MRFF Action Group’s website. The page includes suggested tweets, an email/letter you can personalise, and the contact details of key MPs and Senators. We need your help to ensure an extra $1 billion per year in funding for health and medical research by 2022.

2.  Government update 

Review to strengthen independent Medical Research Institutes

The Australian Government has commissioned a review of independent Medical Research Institutes (iMRIs) to ensure that they continue to make a strong contribution to health and medical research in Australia. The members of the review panel are Professor Graeme Samuel AC (Chair), Alastair Lucas AM, Matthew Grounds and Professor Warwick Anderson AM. The panel will make recommendations for improving the viability and competitiveness of iMRIs, with a focus on increasing efficiency and collaboration. Read AAMRI’s media release in response to the review.

Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda

The Australian Government has released its Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. The 17 reforms outlined include positive developments for the medical research and biotech sectors. A summary of upcoming consultation processes for each of the reforms is provided from p 87 of the paper.

Fact sheets are available for six core reform areas:

  • Improvements to taxation arrangements for Employee Share Schemes including deferral of tax for employees who are issued with options until they exercise the options, extension of maximum deferral time to 15 years, special concessions for eligible start-ups, and streamlining of processes for establishing an ESS.
  • Establishing Industry Growth Centres to encourage greater collaboration between business and science, and address impediments to productivity and competitiveness. Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals is one of five initial focus areas. Each centre will receive up to $3.5 million per annum, and will be expected to become self-sustaining after four years. Centres will also be eligible for funding from the $63 million Growth Centre Project Fund.
  • Reforming the vocational education and training sector
  • Promoting STEM skills in schools including an additional $12 million for a range of initiatives.
  • Enhancing and streamlining the 457 visa and the investor visa programs
  • Accepting trusted international standards and risk assessments for certain product approvals. As a first step, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will enable Australian manufacturers to register routine medical devices using conformity assessment certification from European notified bodies. See the press release from the Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash.

Expert Panel to Review Medicines and Medical Devices Regulation

The Australian Government has announced an independent review of the regulation of medicines and medical devices by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The review will be led by Emeritus Professor Lloyd Sansom AO, and assisted by Mr Will Delaat AM and Professor John Horvath AO. The review’s Terms of Reference include examining means of streamlining regulation.

A discussion paper will be released soon, with recommendations for prescription and over the counter medicines and medical devices due 31 March 2015. A review of the regulatory framework for complementary medicines will be undertaken in the second quarter of 2015.

Discussion paper: Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research

The Australian Government released the Boosting Commercial Returns from Research discussion paper, a key element of the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda. The discussion paper includes improving incentives for collaboration; support for research infrastructure; improving access to publicly funded research; increasing industry relevant research training; and improving assessment of the research system.

The deadline for submissions is 28 November 2014. AAMRI will be preparing a submission, and will contact members shortly for input.

Commonwealth Science Council established

The former Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council has been replaced by the new Commonwealth Science Council. Chaired by the Prime Minister, the council includes leaders from industry, research and government. One of the council’s first tasks will be to advise on national priorities for science and research.

Discussion Paper: CRC Programme Review

The CRC Programme Review Discussion Paper has been released. Responses to the discussion paper are due by 4pm, 11 November 2014. AAMRI plans to prepare a submission and welcomes any feedback (please email nicole.denelzen@aamri.org.au).

Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme

The Accelerating Commercialisation stream of the Entrepreneur’s Infrastructure Programme is now open. The stream includes grants of up to $1 million to cover up to 50 per cent of eligible costs associated with the commercialisation of novel products, processes or services.

VIC: Victorian Medical Technology Strategy

The Victorian Government has launched the Victorian Medical Technology Strategy, an $18.8 million suite of initiatives to support growth and development across Victoria’s medtech sector, including a number of new initiatives.

VIC: MRCF Biotechnology Translation Fund

The Victorian Government has committed $5.6 million over seven years to a new $200 million Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) Biotechnology Translation Fund. The fund will build on the success of the MRCF in supporting the commercialisation of early-stage medical research discoveries.

Victorian State Election: $60 million pledge for biomedical engineering centre

The Victorian Labor Party has pledged $60 million for a biomedical engineering centre at St Vincent’s Hospital in the lead up to the Victorian state election.

SA: Transforming Health discussion paper

The SA Government has released the Transforming Health discussion paper, aimed at designing a health system that embraces innovation and is flexible enough to meet future challenges. A range of information sessions are being held throughout October and November, and a health summit will be held later in 2014. Formal submissions are due by 21 November 2014.

NSW: Medical Devices Fund

The NSW Government has awarded over $6.5 million in grants to help bring medical devices to market in the 2014 round of the Medical Devices Fund.


NHMRC grants and fellowships announcement

The NHMRC announced $580 million in grants and fellowships on 17 October. A success rate for Project Grants of just 14.9 per cent compares with a success rate of 20.5 per cent just two years ago and 22.8 per cent five years ago. The MRFF Action Group put out a media release in response to the grants announcement.

National Institute for Dementia Research: Call for Expressions of Interest

The NHMRC has called for Expressions of Interest from organisations interested in providing services to establish the National Institute for Dementia Research. One of the key objectives of the institute is to identify essential dementia research priorities for Australia across the full spectrum from basic research to implementation.

Expressions of interest must be lodged via AusTender by 10am, 17 November 2014.

Submit your views on dementia research priorities

The NHMRC is seeking views on dementia research and translation priorities to inform the strategic roadmap for the new NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research. The NHMRC’s survey closes 10 November 2014. New ARC Centres of Excellence A new $20 million ARC Centre of Excellence focussed on stopping the cycle of long-term disadvantage in children and families has opened at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, while another ARC Centre of Excellence for advanced molecular imaging to fight auto-immune diseases was launched at Monash University.

ARC medical research policy update

The ARC has updated its Medical Research Policy, including information for projects at the nexus of ARC and NHMRC funding. The ARC has also provided a Frequently Asked Questions document. ARC funding rules released Funding Rules have been released with the opening of new rounds of the Australian Laureate Fellowships, Discovery Projects, Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards and Discovery Indigenous Awards. A simple summary of funding rule changes is provided on the webpage of each scheme.

4.  Sector news

Intellectual Property Government Open Data (IPGOD)

The Australian Government has made 100 years of records on all intellectual property rights administered by IP Australia freely available online.


Dr Larry Marshall has been appointed CEO of CSIRO, commencing January 2015. He replaces Dr Megan Clark, who has led CSIRO for the past six years.

PM Science Prizes

Professors Ingrid Scheffer and Sam Berkovic have won the $300,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for their research into epilepsy and its genetic links. Other winners of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science can be found here.

Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health

On 8 October, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre officially became Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health. An allocation of $18 million over four years from the Australian Government will enable Orygen to consolidate and build on its expertise to deliver research, clinical services and evidence-based training.

The Wesley-St Andrew’s Research Institute

The Wesley Research Institute and St Andrew’s Medical Institute have merged to create a centralised medical research institute for the four UnitingCare Health hospitals in Queensland.

Biomedical Materials Transformation Facility opens in Melbourne

A BioMedical Research Consortium will open in Melbourne with $10 million from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF). CSIRO and Monash University will each match the SIEF’s $10 million contribution, and will jointly run the consortium in conjunction with a range of industry partners.

New researchers-in-residence fellowship program (CSIRO)

The Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) will provide $7.9 million over five years for a STEM + Business Fellowship Program, to place early career researchers as researchers-in-residence in industry. CSIRO will run the program through its SME Engagement Centre. SIEF was founded in 1926 to fund innovation in Australian research and was reinvigorated with a $150 million gift in 2009 from CSIRO out of the proceeds of fast wireless LAN licensing.

Bioinformatics society launched

A new professional society for bioinformaticians and computational biologists was launched in Melbourne at the Australian Bioinformatics Conference ABiC 2014. Membership with ABACBS is currently free.

5.  Reports and resources

NHMRC Research Funding Facts Book 2013

This latest Facts Book contains statistics on the outcomes of the 2013 application rounds for NHMRC funding, as well as historical information over the last 10 years.

Extrapolated returns from investment in medical research future fund (MRFF)

Commissioned by the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR), this Deloitte Access Economics report quantifies the extrapolated health and economic returns of NHMRC-funded health and medical research with and without the MRFF. It estimates that every $1 from the MRFF invested in medical research would return $3.39 in future health and productivity gains. A five or 10 year delay in the MRFF reaching its target would reduce health and productivity benefits by $11.3 billion or $12.2 billion, respectively.

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease: Australian facts [Mortality]

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease were the underlying causes of 36 per cent of all deaths in 2011, according to a report released this month by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

6.  Funding & award opportunities

veski Innovation Fellowships (Vic)

veski Innovation Fellowships bring outstanding international scientists and researchers, typically in the top five percent of their respective fields, to Victoria. Applications close 14 November 2014.

Emergency Medicine Foundation grants

The EMF’s first national grant round will fund research into emergency health service provision and/or improving the retrieval, care and medicine in rural and remote areas. Grants of up to $100,000 are available. Expressions of Interest close 28 November 2014.

Proposals sought for independent review of evidence base for thrombolysis use in stroke

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) is seeking proposals from researchers or consultants experienced in evaluation of research methodology, biostatistical analysis and evidence-based literature reviews, to undertake an independent analysis of the evidence for thrombolytic therapy in acute ischaemic stroke. Applications close 28 November 2014.

Qld Government Accelerate Ideas grant program (Qld)

The $1.5 million Accelerate Ideas program offers grants of between $25,000 and $50,000 to firms and researchers to assist in getting their ideas out into the market. Applications close 30 November 2014.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative

Three new funding initiatives under the Grand Challenges program have been announced:

  • Creating and Measuring Integrated Solutions for Healthy Birth, Growth, and Development
  • Putting Women and Girls at the Centre of Development
  • New Interventions for Global Health.

Submissions are due by 13 January 2015. Applications for a range of other initiatives including Fighting Ebola, Surveillance Tools, Diagnostics and Artificial Diet to Support new Approaches to Vector Control, New Approaches for Addressing Outdoor/Residual Malaria Transmission, Reducing Pneumonia Fatalities, Brain Development, Integrating Community-based Interventions, and Preventing Preterm Birth, close throughout November and December.

International Progressive MS Alliance Collaborative Network Award

This award will create interdisciplinary, global, collaborative networks focused on new therapy development for progressive MS, including new and re-purposed drugs and/or other treatment strategies. Phase 1 (12 months) Planning Awards enable the groundwork necessary in order to put forward an application for a Collaborative Network Award. Applications for Planning Awards open on 15 December 2014 and close 31 January 2015.

Qld-Chinese Academy of Sciences Collaborative Science Fund (Qld)

The Q-CAS fund provides grants to assist Queensland and Chinese researchers to jointly undertake research and development projects. Applications close 27 February 2015.

7. Upcoming conferences & events

New Horizons 2014: Improving healthcare through research & education, Sydney, 17-19 Nov 2014

This conference includes international speakers from the UK and USA together with Vice Chancellors and Shadow Ministers representing Medical Research, Government, Higher Education Institutions and Innovation. In particular, guest speaker Sir Cyril Chantler, Immediate Past Chair of UCL Partners (UK), will share his insights into achieving improved patient outcomes through academic health science centre models.

Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) Forum, Canberra, 25-26 November 2014

This workshop will include representatives from the UK Equality Challenge Unit, responsible for managing the Athena SWAN Charter, aimed at improving gender equity in research organisations.

BioInfoSummer 2014, Melbourne, 1 December 2014

BioInfoSummer is a major annual bioinformatics educational and outreach event in Australia, bringing together more than 150 biologists, statisticians and bioinformatics professionals. It provides an opportunity for mathematics students to acquire skills in bioinformatics.

Masterclass in Science Engagement and Policy Making, Canberra, 5 December 2014

This one-day master class organised by the Australian Academy of Science will help you underpin your work with evidence, apply best practice, and bridge the gap between the theory and practice of science communication and policy-making. Registrations due by 27 November 2014. Full registration $85, students $70.