AAMRI E-news: May 2014

AAMRI E-news: May 2014

30th May, 2014


1.  AAMRI news – Federal budget response, ACNC Repeal Bill, new AAMRI members

2. Government update – National Commission of Audit Report, state government announcements

3.  NHMRC & ARC updates – NHMRC NFFC notification, clinical trials consultation

4.  Sector news – New Australian Academy of Science President

5.  Reports & resources 

6.  Funding & award opportunities

7.  Upcoming conferences & events


1.  AAMRI news

1.1  AAMRI response to 2014-15 Federal budget and Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)

The Federal Government’s 2014-15 budget included several significant measures impacting medical research, including the important announcement of a $20 billion endowment fund for health and medical research. The budget also maintained funding levels for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) over the next four years, and provided additional funding for dementia research and for streamlining clinical trials and NHMRC grants processes.

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) will effectively double the government’s investment in health and medical research over the next decade and secure funding for medical research into the future. It has the potential to transform medical research and healthcare in Australia.This is a long-term, secure investment in medical research – one that the sector and our community supporters have been calling for for many years.

We recognise concerns within the community regarding the use of a Medicare co-payment and other health budget savings to fund the MRFF, and the consequent challenges the fund is likely to face in the Senate. This will be a matter for the Senate to resolve. We also acknowledge sensitivities around what was otherwise a tough budget for many sectors, including other areas of research. However, we hope that this fund will help pave the way for a new, secure funding model for other areas of the research and innovation space in the future.

AAMRI is actively engaging in discussions with the Government and sector representatives on the MRFF. We look forward to helping provide what we hope will be a united sector response regarding investment priorities, including how the fund can help support implementation of key recommendations of the McKeon Review, including driving excellence in research, addressing the shortfall in funding for the indirect/operational costs of research, supporting priority-driven research and research on a more effective health system, enhancing commercial and non-commercial translation of discoveries, and embedding research and innovation in the health system.

For more information on AAMRI’s response to the Federal budget:

  • Read AAMRI’s overview of federal budget measures affecting medical research, including details of the Medical Research Future Fund.
  • Read AAMRI’s media release in response to the announcement of the Medical Research Future Fund.
  • Read The Australian article where AAMRI President, Prof Brendan Crabb, and President-elect, Prof Doug Hilton, discuss how the Australian community and research sector got the message to government of the importance of health and medical research for Australia’s future.

1.2  AAMRI submission to the Senate inquiry on the ACNC Repeal Bill

The Government has introduced a Bill to Parliament to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC), the new regulator of the charity sector established in late 2012. The Government intends to replace the ACNC with a National Centre for Excellence. The Bill is currently the subject of a Senate committee inquiry.

In its submission to the Senate inquiry on the ACNC Repeal Bill, AAMRI supports the repeal of the ACNC Act. This is based on the lack of any additional benefit to medical research institutes of the ACNC, and the complication of legislation and reporting requirements for medical research institutes that has resulted from the ACNC Act.

AAMRI also participated in the Senate committee public hearing. A full transcript of the hearing is available here.

The Senate committee is due to report on its findings on 16 June.

1.3 ‘Solely in Australia’ Tax Laws Amendment Bill

AAMRI and Research Australia have had productive discussions with Treasury on amendments to the ‘solely in Australia’ Tax Laws Amendment Bill affecting the ability of medical research institutes to retain their Deductible Gift Recipient Status if they have substantial overseas activities. AAMRI will provide an update to member organisations shortly.

1.4 New AAMRI members

AAMRI welcomes two new members:

  • Translational Research Institute (TRI)
  • Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI). 


2.  Government update

2.1  National Commission of Audit recommendations affecting medical research

The National Commission of Audit’s final report to Federal Government was released on 1 May.

Read AAMRI’s summary of the Commission’s recommendations relevant to the health and medical research here.

The Government response to the report can be found here. Some of the Commission’s recommendations were included in the Federal budget, while others (including some in the R&D space) are still under consideration.

2.2  Commercialisation Australia closes

As outlined in the Federal budget, the Commercialisation Australia program is now closed to new applications. Read here for more information, including a hotline to check the status of pre-existing applications.

The Government has announced the establishment of a new $484 million Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Program and a Single Business Service to support businesses to improve their competitiveness and to commercialise ideas.

To receive updates about the new Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Program, register here.

2.3  Recent speeches by the Minister for Health on medical research

The Hon Peter Dutton MP delivered a speech on the importance of the McKeon Review and medical research at the George Institute for Global Health on 1 May. Read it here.

Mr Dutton also delivered a National Press Club speech, including information on the Medical Research Future Fund, on 28 May. Watch it here.

2.4  Victorian Government Budget  

The Victorian state budget, released on 20 May, included two initiatives relevant to medical research: the Global Health Melbourne Plan ($17.8 million over three years), and ongoing funding for the Victoria Prizes, Fellowships & Victorian Postdoctoral Research Fellowships, including an additional spend of $2.4 million over three years.

2.5 NSW Government $2 million boost for cardiac research

The NSW Government announced new funding of $2 million to support cardiovascular research at the launch of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute Breaking the Cycle of Heart Disease 20:20 Campaign. The commitment matches a $2 million contribution from the Packer and Lowy families.



3.1  NHMRC grants not for further consideration – notification now in August

The NHMRC has updated their advice regarding notification of researchers on grant applications not making it to full review (bottom 50% of applications). Researchers will now be notified in August, not June as previously advised.

3.2  NHMRC clinical trials consultation

As part of its plan to streamline clinical trials processes, the NHMRC is conducting targeted consultations on:

  • ‘Good practice’ research governance processes for clinical trials; and
  • The structure and content of a new human research application form to replace the National Ethics Information Form.

To find out more or to register your interest, please contact the NHMRC on riact@nhmrc.gov.au.


4.  Sector news

4.1  New President for the Australian Academy of Science

Professor Andrew Holmes took over from Professor Suzanne Cory as President of the Australian Academy of Science on 28 May.


5.  Reports & resources

New AIHW data on mental health expenditure and servicesThe Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released new data on mental health services in Australia, including expenditure, mental health policy, key performance indicators, specialised facilities and summary data tables.

Nature launches new Open Access journalThis OA journal provides descriptions of scientifically valuable datasets and access to raw data.

National Survey on Australia’s engagement with science This is a report of the preliminary findings of a national survey undertaken in February 2014, commissioned by Inspiring Australia.

Exploring Healthcare Variation in Australian This report by the AIHW and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care looks at variability in the management of common health conditions across Australia.

Trends in coronary heart disease mortality: age groups and populations 

OECD healthcare quality indicators for Australia 2011-12 This report summarises information Australia provided in 2013 to the OECD’s Health Care Quality Indicators 2012-13 data collection and compares data to previous years.

Indigenous Reform 2012-13: Five Years of Performance This COAG Reform Council Report focuses on improvements over the past five years in the six Closing the Gap targets (including in health).

AIHW Report – National Maternity Data Development Project – Stage 1This report provides findings of stage 1 of a project aimed at building a more comprehensive national data collections for maternal and perinatal health.


6.  Funding & award opportunities

Australian Cancer Research Fund (ACRF) 2014 Grants – Grants for research capital works/equipment are now open; close 30 Jun.

2014 Research Australia Awards – Awards are presented across the categories of discovery, advocacy, philanthropy, and lifetime achievement, and for the first time, health services research. Nominations close 1 July.

ANZ Research Grants  

  • Mason Foundation National Medical Program – Alzheimer’s Disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Applications close 1 July.
  • Medical Research and Technology in Victoria Program. Applications close 1 July.

2015 Arthritis Australia National Research Program– Includes fellowships, scholarships, grants in aid and project grants. Applications close 4 July.

CSL Young Florey Medal – This new inaugural award will be awarded to an Australian biomedical researcher under 45 years of age for significant early career achievements in biomedical science and/or human health advancement for research conducted primarily in Australia. The award carries a prize of $25,000 and will be announced at the AAMRI Annual Dinner in Canberra on 27 Oct. Nominations close 7 July.


7.  Upcoming conferences & events

ASMR Medical Research Week – 1-7 June

Simon McKeon National Press Club speech on the progress of the McKeon Review since its release in 2013 – Canberra, 11 June

2014 Bionics Institute public lecture: Can Australia be more than a mine, a farm and Uluru? The case for innovation – includes speeches from a cochlear implant user and Australia’s recipient of the prototype bionic eye; keynote speaker is Simon McKeon; Melbourne, 17 June

Australian Telomere and DNA Repair Workshop – Sydney, 16-17 June

Short Telomere Syndromes Conference – Sydney, 18 June

SAHMRI Scientific Launch– Adelaide, 23-36 June; registrations open to those working in the health and medical research sector

2014 BIO International Convention– San Diego, 23-26 June

NanoBio Australia 2014 – Brisbane, 6-10 July

20th International AIDS Conference – Melbourne, 20-25 July

Medical Oncology Group of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting– Sydney, 6-8 Aug

National Science Week– 16-24 August

AusBiotechTech Transfer Summit 2014– Adelaide, 2-3 September

15th International Conference on Systems Biology – Melbourne, 14-18 September

AAMRI 2014 National Convention – Canberra, 27-18 October

AusBiotech 2014 National Conference – Gold Coast, 29-31 October

2014 Research Australia Awards Dinner– Sydney, 5 November

NHMRC 3rd Annual Symposium on Research Translation– Melbourne, 12-13 November

2014 ARC/NHMRC Research Administrators’ Seminar – Canberra, 3-4 December