Australia is on the cusp of a revolution in health and medical research after tonight’s release of the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2016-2018, according to the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI).
The Priorities will guide carefully targeted additional research investment in promising drugs, treatments, preventions, medical devices, and outstanding scientists, with money from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), said new AAMRI President Professor Tony Cunningham.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement at the annual AAMRI dinner at Parliament House this evening, in conjunction with Health Minister Sussan Ley, was greeted by warm applause from the medical research sector.
“This is a giant step forward, taking the MRFF from an exciting concept to a game-changing opportunity that will ultimately save lives, and save on healthcare costs in the future and drive innovation,’ Professor Cunningham said.
“We are making so many promising discoveries in the lab but just need the opportunity to develop these further into new treatments for patients. The MRFF, guided by the new strategy and priorities, will allow us to do this.
“We congratulate the Government on delivering on their commitment to this nation-shaping fund, as they continue to add to the MRFF and help it grow to its $20 billion target by 2021, at which point it will disburse $1 billion per year and effectively double government investment in health and medical research.”
Professor Cunningham said the Priorities, recommended by the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board after extensive community and sector consultation, brought real insight into the best ways to address Australia’s current and future health needs, and will undoubtedly help the Australian community live longer, healthier lives.
“The burden of conditions such as mental illness, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia and diabetes is massive. A health system informed by quality health and medical research is the best way to help us overcome these conditions,” he said.
“As a clinician scientist, I’m most gratified to see a focus on clinical trials and clinical researcher fellowships included in the Priorities, which will further embed medical research into the healthcare system, take developments from the bench to the bedside, and give Australians access to new treatments ahead of the rest of the world.
“The improved use of health data highlighted in the strategy will save the health system money, and reduce the physical burden of unnecessary tests and treatments on Australians, as will the focus on preventive health.
“We congratulate the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board on producing such a tremendous, forward-thinking document, the implementation of which will improve the lives of many Australians, from premature babies through to people living with dementia.”
Professor Cunningham said the medical research community was eagerly anticipating the first grants to be disbursed from the MRFF later this financial year.
“This is an historic day, and couldn’t have come at a better time,” Professor Cunningham said. “This will deliver renewed confidence to scientists, knowing that within the decade we will have a doubling of funding for medical research via a safe-guarded future fund. It will ensure we retain the very best and brightest researchers here.
“This also couldn’t have come at a better time for Australians too, with an ageing population and half of all us living with chronic conditions. And then there is that intangible benefit that medical research delivers: hope. Every person fighting a life-threatening disease, and every one of their friends and family, lives in the hope that health and medical research will deliver to them better treatments, or even cures for their illness.
“We have some exceptionally bright people working in health and medical research in Australia. Just recently our researchers have come close to a cure for some anaphylactic food allergies, developed more effective cancer drugs and have helped some type 1 diabetics throw away their insulin through successful islet transfers. This is all life-changing research for the beneficiaries.
“We know we can make many more discoveries, we just need the money to do it, and the MRFF will help us tremendously towards the very best goal of a healthier Australia.”