AAMRI e-news: February 2021

AAMRI e-news: February 2021

3rd February, 2021



In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – AAMRI appoints new President-Elect
  2. Government update – New Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing
  3. Sector newsJoin Us! The new research register
  4. NHMRC update – 12th edition of 10 of the Best released
  5. MRFF update – $311 million funding announced
  6. Other funding and award opportunities – Asahi Kasei Pharma Program
  7. Reports and resources – First interim report by Covid-19 Select Committee
  8. Events and courses –  JBI free webinar

Do you have something that you would like featured in a future newsletter? Send it through to communications@aamri.org.au


1. AAMRI news

AAMRI appoints Professor Kathryn North AC as new President-Elect 

AAMRI welcomes Professor Kathryn North AC, Director of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), as the new AAMRI President-Elect. Professor North is a celebrated scientist, a leading paediatrician, neurologist and clinical geneticist. Professor North will begin her term as AAMRI President in November 2021.

AAMRI welcomes $172.5 million top-up funding for medical research 

The government has announced $172.5 million in additional top-up funding for the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), providing a welcome boost for the medical research sector. This new funding injection will help address the reduced investment returns from the fund which have been caused by historically low interest rates.

2021 Australia Day Honours recipients 

AAMRI member institute directors, scientists and supporters were awarded the prestigious Australia Day Honours: Prof Alan Cass AO (Director, Menzies School of Health Research), Professor Peter Leedman AO (Director, Harry Perkins Institute) and Professor Roger Reddel (Executive Director, Children’s Medical Research Institute). You can see the full list of those recognised for their services to medical research on our website.

AAMRI Member Networks

AAMRI operates a variety of member networks in key business areas that discuss issues, share ideas and come together at events.

How to join our Networks

AAMRI’s staff networks connect professional staff at AAMRI member institutes with their counterparts to discuss common challenges and issues facing the medical research sector. There are currently ten active AAMRI staff networks – HR, Research Governance, Research Strategy, IT, Research Administration Officers (RAO), Philanthropy & Fundraising, Operations Network, Legal Counsel, Finance, and COVID-19. For information on AAMRI Networks, upcoming network events and how to join, visit the AAMRI website.


2.  Government update 

New Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing

The Hon Mark Butler MP has been appointed as Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing. He replaces Hon Chris Bowen MP who has moved to the portfolio of Climate Change and Energy.

New Chief Medical Officer 

Professor Paul Kelly has been appointed as Australia’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO). Professor Kelly has been acting in the role since June 2020, and prior to this was Deputy CMO from January 2020.

$11 million to reduce rates of stillbirths 

The government will provide $11 million to fast track a new national plan to reduce the number of stillbirths.

Victorian Government to invest $36 million in MGHA

An investment of $36 million in the Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance (MGHA) is set to accelerate the adoption of genomic sequencing across the healthcare system – giving Victorians access to quicker, more accurate diagnosis and more effective treatment.



Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention 

The House of Representatives has established a Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention to inquire into the findings of the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Mental Health as well as other matters not addressed by these recent reviews. Closing date TBC.

Consultation on the definition of Central Circulatory System 

As part of the Australian Government Department of Health, the Therapeutic Goods Administration is consulting on its review of the definition of Central Circulatory System (CSS) in the Australian medical device regulations. The aim is to obtain feedback on whether the current definition remains suitable in relation to risks posed by medical devices used within the CSS. Closes 10 February.

Gene Technology Regulator

The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator is inviting comments on a clinical trial with a genetically modified Vaccinia virus-based treatment for solid cancerous tumours. Closes 24 February. 

Inquiry into Australia’s skilled migration program

The Joint Standing Committee on Migration shall inquire into and report on Australia’s skilled migration program. You can make a submission addressing terms of reference 1(a) and 2 by 1 March and the remaining by 31 March. 

National Gene Technology Scheme consultation 

The Legislative and Governance Forum on Gene Technology is seeking feedback on the third review of its National Gene Technology Scheme. The review aims to modernise the scheme and helps ensure the efficiency and timeliness of responses to new technology. Closes 17 March.  

Cardiovascular Health Mission national consultation

The Medical Research Future Fund’s (MRFF) Cardiovascular Health Mission is seeking feedback from the community on its draft Roadmap and Implementation Plan, which provides $220 million for research to make transformative improvements in cardiovascular health and stroke for Australians. Closes 23 April. 

Traumatic Brain Injury Mission consultation

MRFF’s Traumatic Brain Injury Mission is seeking feedback on its draft Roadmap and Implementation Plan, which provides $50 million for research to improve patient recovery after Brain injury. Closes 23 April.  

Genomics Health Futures Mission consultation

MRFF’s Genomics Health Futures Mission is seeking feedback on its draft Roadmap and Implementation Plan, which provides $500 million for research to deliver better testing, diagnosis and treatment. Closes 23 April. 

Stem Cell Therapies Mission consultation 

MRFF’s Stem Cell Therapies is seeking feedback on its draft Roadmap and Implementation Plan, which provides $150 million for research to develop innovative, safe and effective treatments accessible to all Australians. Closes 23 April.  

Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission consultation 

MRFF’s Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission is seeking feedback on its draft Roadmap and Implementation Plan, which provides $185 million for research to support older people to maintain their health and quality of life as they age. Closes 23 April.  

Indigenous Health Research Fund consultation 

MRFF’s Indigenous Health Research Fund is seeking feedback on its draft Roadmap and Implementation Plan, which provides $160 million for research to support the health of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. Closes 23 April. 

ANAO audit into the management of the MRFF

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is seeking submissions to its audit of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). Closes 30 May. The report will be tabled in September 2021. 


3.  Sector news

Join Us!

Over 50 research, education, industry and consumer organisations are meeting to consider becoming collaborators in Join Us, a new research register established by The George Institute. The aim is to recruit a million Australians willing to be contacted about research relevant to them.

TGA provisionally approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine  

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has granted provisional approval to Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd for its COVID-19 vaccine making it the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive regulatory approval in Australia.

Mapping the health of Victorians through decades

Victorian researchers are embarking on one of the largest health studies in the world to help provide answers to complex health issues like asthma, food allergies, obesity, autism and mental illness. Over the next two years around 150,000 children born in Victoria and their parents will have the opportunity to take part in the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Generation Victoria (GenV) project.

Queensland Government invests in new COVID research

The Queensland Government announced a $5 million grant to the QIMR Berghofer for its research into treatment for COVID patients.

AIATSIS Code of Ethics released 

The AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research in conjunction with Guide to applying the AIATSIS Code was released in October 2020. A 12-month implementation period is now underway.

National infrastructure for health research data: Register now  

The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) is inviting Australian health research organisations to register their interest to participate in the Health Studies Australian National Data Asset (HeSANDA) Infrastructure Development co-investment stream which will enable the creation of a national health data asset.

Research Culture: A survey of early-career researchers in Australia 

A survey of 658 early-career researchers (ECRs) working in Australia aims to understand the needs and challenges faced by ECRs who make up a large portion of the academic workforce.

How COVID-19 changed the way Australians used health services

In a series of releases, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has reviewed he impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Australian health system between 2019-20. The releases include the annual MyHospitals, reports about the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Medicare Benefits Schedule and more.

HRI wins ‘Best Workplace 2020’ Award 

The Heart Research Institute has won ‘Best Workplace 2020’ for providing an exceptional work environment for staff, awarded by consultancy firm Voice Project.


4.  NHMRC update

NHMRC releases the 12th edition of 10 of the Best  

Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has launched the 12th edition of 10 of the Best, showcasing significant research projects supporting improvement in human health.

Ideas Grant funding outcomes released

NHMRC released the Ideas Grant funding outcomes late last year announcing an investment of $260 million in 283 Ideas Grants.

Investigator Grants 2021 

The Investigator Grant scheme will open for applications on 3 February. The guidelines will be made available on the Grant Connect when the scheme opens. For more information, please email help@nhmrc.gov.au.

Synergy Grants – key dates

The Synergy Grant scheme for funding commencing in 2022 is scheduled to open 24 February and minimum data is due by 24 March. Closes 21 April. 

Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North case study 

NHMRC has released a new case study on the program Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North (HOT North), in partnership with the Menzies School of Health Research. The aim of the project is to build the health research workforce across northern Australia.

Community Research Priorities Portal submissions 

The Community Research Priorities Portal enables community and professional groups to propose research topics to the NHMRC that may warrant a dedicated funding call, in the form of a Targeted Call for Research. Topics must address a significant research knowledge gap or unmet need. Closes 5 February.   

Call for research priorities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health 

NHMRC is asking for research priority areas in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, specifically where is there a significant research knowledge gap or unmet need. Closes 8 February.

European Union JPND Research

NHMRC is supporting a Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Disease (JPND) funding call that will enable Australian researchers to join international collaborations investigating linking pre-diagnosis disturbances of physiological systems to Neurodegenerative Diseases. For more information, please visit the JPND website.

NHMRC funding calendar

NHMRC keeps an up to date list of funding opportunities on its website where you can find out which schemes will be opening soon.


5.  MRFF update

$311 million for dementia, cancer and additional medical research 

Late last year, the MRFF released 12 grant opportunities with a total value of almost $311 million. The funding aims to generate improved health care and outcomes by supporting health and medical research and innovation projects in key areas such as dementia, aged care, and applied research led by clinicians.

$38 million available for research into diabetes and heart disease 

The Health Minister has announced two new medical research centres for diabetes and cardiovascular disease research. The Government will provide $10 million for each centre as well as $18 million to support translational research projects.

MTPConnect – the organisation managing the program – is now seeking Expressions of Interest under the Targeted Translation Research Accelerator initiative. Closes 22 February for Research Projects and 15 March for Research Centres.

$10 million for COVID-19 related clinical trials 

Volunteers will be recruited for an accelerated clinical trial of two COVID-19 vaccines, developed by the University of Melbourne. These trials are among six chosen to receive immediate funding totalling $10.1 million under the MRFF’s Clinical Trials Activity Initiative.

Current funding opportunities 

See AAMRI’s summary of current MRFF grant opportunities, open and closing dates for applications and how to apply.

Subscribe to the MRFF newsletter

To stay updated about MRFF-related changes, you can review the previous editions of the MRFF newsletter and subscribe to their email list.


6.  Other funding and award opportunities

Funding opportunities

Asahi Kasei Pharma Open Innovation Program

Japan-based Asahi Kasei Pharma is inviting drug development research proposals under the Open Innovation Program from Australian universities, research institutes and companies. The funding has been increased up to USD100,000 per year/per project. See website and LinkedIn post. In case of any questions, please email Dr Hajime Kusano. Closes 25 February. 

NFMRI Grant Rounds

The National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation (NFMRI) are holding two grant rounds this year: a general grant round (Open now. Closes 18 March) and a cystic fibrosis grant round (Opens 28 April. Closes 16 June). Applicants can attend the online grant round Q&A session on 17 February. 

NSW Government MDF now open

Applications for round 9 of the NSW Government’s Medical Devices Fund (MDF) are now open. MDF aims to provide support to individuals, companies, public and private hospitals, medical research institutes, universities and the medical devices industry, to take local innovation to market. Closes 1 March. 

Applications open for the BridgeTech Program

The BridgeTech Program is open to mid-career medtech professionals with a demonstrated interest in a career in commercailisation. This program is fully supported by government and industry – there is no course fee. Closes 7 February. 


Award opportunities

The PM’s Prizes for Science 2021

Nominations for The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 2021 – for outstanding achievements of Australian scientists and innovators – are now open. Closes 9 March. 

Exceptional work of Australians in the COVID-19 response

You can nominate people, professionals and volunteers, who have displayed extraordinary service and achievement during the COVID-19 response and recovery, for an Australian National Honour.

Nominations open for the ACTA Trial of the Year 2021

The Australian Clinical Trials Alliance’s (ACTA) Trial of the Year Award recognises outstanding achievements of its Members, who advance clinical practice and improve the lives of patients through investigator-driven clinical trials. Nominations are open for a ground-breaking clinical trial published in 2020 by a current ACTA Member. Closes 14 March.


7.  Reports and resources

Covid-19 Select Committee releases first interim report 

The first interim report on Covid-19 was tabled by the Covid-19 Senate Select Committee on 9 December 2020. The report sets out the committee’s initial findings with a focus on the government’s preparedness for a pandemic, the speed of its health response, the economic response packages prior to the 2020-21 Budget as well as the issues emerging from the initial phase of the pandemic.

New reports released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW): 

Rapid Applied Research Translation initiative report 

The Department of Health has issued a report on the Rapid Applied Research Translation initiative. The evaluation has looked at the implementation of the initiative and has identified opportunities to support the rapid translation of research evidence into clinical practice.

Medical research commercialisation landscape report  

The Department of Health has issued a report on the medical research commercialisation landscape. The report by Allen and Clarke provides an overview of the public and private funding programs that support the development and commercialisation of medical research in Australia.


8. Events and courses

JBI free webinar and paid online courses 

AusMedtech week 17-21 May 

Reconnect with a network of resilient leaders and reimagine the future of medtech at AusMedtech 2021, online and live, 17-21 May. 

Your events!

Get in touch with us about your events and we’ll list them here.

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