AAMRI eNews 6th edition 2017

AAMRI eNews 6th edition 2017

14th July, 2017


AAMRI eNews #6

July 2017

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – AAMRI Convention, Health Minister confirmed speaker
  2. Government update – Medical research occupations back on 457 list, 10 Year QLD Biomedical roadmap, and more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – Draft public statement on water fluoridation
  4. MRFF update – MRFF reaches $6.8B following July investment of $2.2B
  5. Sector news – $44M for SAHMRI 2 expansion
  6. Reports & resources – MTPConnect finds clinical trials provide $1.1B to Australian economy
  7. Funding & award opportunities – EOIs open for $7.8M MTPConnect Project Fund Program, plus a bumper crop of other award opportunitites
  8. Events & conferences – Get ready for Ausbiotech 2017

1. AAMRI news

2017 AAMRI Convention – 6-7 Dec 2017
The 2017 AAMRI Convention will be held on 6-7 December 2017 in Canberra. Confirmed speakers for the event include the Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, and NHMRC CEO, Prof Anne Kelso. The Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, has agreed to speak at the AAMRI Dinner at Parliament House. Event information including registration and hotel details will be available later this month.

AAMRI submission – A Framework for NHMRC Assessment and Funding of Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies
Working with our members AAMRI has put forward a submission to the NHMRC consultation on its draft framework for the assessment and funding of clinical trials and cohort studies.


2.  Government update 

Policy announcements

Government responds to AAMRI concerns on 457 visa changes
The Government has responded to the repeated concerns raised by AAMRI and others in the sector regarding recent changes to Australia’s migration programs. There had been concerns about removing core medical research occupations from subclass 457 and 186 visas which would prevent MRIs from recruiting overseas talent to fill skills gaps. The list of eligible occupations for these visas has now revised, and all the core medical research occupations have been reinstated making them eligible for the subclass 457 visa, as well as the permanent residency subclass 186 visa.

AAMRI is continuing to engage with the Government with regards to other issues of interest relating to other changes such as ensuring PhD experience is counted towards the new two-year work experience requirement.

QLD: Launch of Queensland Biomedical 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan
The Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk has launched the Queensland Biomedical 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan. The aim of the plan is to boost the sector’s competitiveness by unlocking investment. Key initiatives in the plan include the Biomedical Assistance Fund, the Lean Launchpad incubator, a biomedical voucher scheme, and a program of business to business collaboration and information sharing.

WA: $18 million boost for WA cancer research and commitment to $1 billion Future Health Research and Innovation Fund
WA Health Minister Roger Cook has announced two new $18 million in grants to support and raise the international profile of cancer research in Western Australia. Partners in the grants include AAMRI members the Perkins Institute of Medical Research and Telethon Kids Institute, as well as the five WA universities. The Health Minister has also repeated the WA Government’s election promise to fund a $1 billion Future Health Research and Innovation Fund.


Five year review of the Health Star Rating System
The HSR system is a public health and consumer choice intervention designed to encourage people to make healthier dietary choices. The five year review of the HSR system will consider if, and how well, the objectives of the HSR system have been met, and identify options for improvements to and ongoing implementation of the system. As part of the five year review, HSRAC is seeking evidence based submissions on the consultation questions provided in the discussion paper.

ASIC consultation on Crowd-sourced funding: guide for public companies
ASIC are undertaking a consultation on its proposed guidance for public companies seeking to raise funds through crowd-sourced funding. Feedback on the consultation paper is sought, and the closing date for comments is 3 August 2017.



NHMRC Draft Public Statement on Water fluoridation and human health in Australia
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has released the draft Public Statement 2017: Water fluoridation and human health in Australia(draft Public Statement) for public consultation. In this statement NHMRC strongly recommends community water fluoridation as a safe, effective and ethical way to help reduce tooth decay across the population. The closing date for submissions is 3 August 2017 at 11.59pm (AEST).

ARC Open Access Policy
The ARC has updated its Open Access policy. The revised policy is largely similar to the previous version, with the requirement that any research output arising from ARC funded research must be made openly accessible within a twelve month period. The changes relate to removing ambiguities in the application of the policy. Copies of the current and previous policies are available from the ARC website.


4. Medical Research Future Fund

MRFF reaches $6.8 billion following $2.2 billion investment into the fund
The Government paid over $2.2 billion into the Medical Research Future Fund on 3 July, taking the balance of the fund to around $6.8 billion. The fund is now well on the way to reaching its $20 billion target. You can see what has already been funded through our handy infographic and table listing funding outcomes to date.

What’s been funded by the Medical Research Future Fund?


5.  Sector news

Medical research a winner in SA budget with $44 million SAHMRI expansion
The SA Government announced a new $44 million investment into constructing the second SAHMRI building as part of the 2017-18 South Australian budget. The Federal Government last month announced $68 million to fund a proton therapy unit which will form a centre piece of the new $240 million SAHMRI 2 building and will be the first of its type in Australia providing targeted treatment of inoperable brain cancers.

2017 NHMRC Research Excellence Awards
Congratulations to all the recipients of the 2017 NHMRC Research Excellence Awards announced on 12 July 2017. There was a strong showing from researchers based at AAMRI members, with Dr Joshua Osowicki (Murdoch Childrens Researech Institute) awarded the Gustav Nossal Award, Prof Carola Vinuesa (John Curtin School of Medical Research) awarded the top Project Grant award, and A/Prof Chris Williams (Bionics Institute) awarded the top Development Grant award. Congratulations to all the other awardees.


6.  Reports and resources

MTP Connect report finds Clinical trials provide $1.1b to Australian economy: 
MTPConnect has released a new report ‘Clinical Trials in Australia: the economic profile and competitive position of the sector’, providing an overview of the entire clinical trials landscape in Australia. The report highlights that the economic profile of the Australian clinical trial sector is significant, with the potential to surpass $2 billion of annual expenditure in the next 10 years, and provides $1.1 billion to the Australian economy.

ATSE statement: the role of technology in active ageing
The Academy of Technology and Engingeering has issued a statement on the role of technology in active ageing following a recent dialogue event. The statement envisages a future in which health data is integrated and standardised across the sector, which will generate efficiency gains and significantly reduce costs.

The burden of chronic respiratory conditions in Australia
This report presents information on the disease burden of chronic respiratory conditions using data from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011. Respiratory conditions were the sixth leading contributor to total burden of disease in Australia, with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and upper respiratory conditions being the greatest contributors to the respiratory burden.

The burden of musculoskeletal conditions in Australia
This report presents findings from the Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 on the burden of musculoskeletal conditions in Australia.


7.  Funding & award opportunities

EOIs open for $7.8M MTPConnect Project Fund Program
Interested parties with big, bold ideas that aim to improve the productivity, competitiveness and innovative capacity of Australia’s medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical (MTP) sector are encouraged to prepare their applications to share in the $7.8 million of available funding from MTPConnect. The Industry Growth Centre for MTP sector has opened the second round of its $15.6 million Project Fund Program, under the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Centres Initiative. Successful applications will need to demonstrate the proposed idea is collaborative and industry-led, will deliver results on a national scale, have a sector-wide impact (including for small-to-medium enterprises), and are aligned with MTPConnect’s Sector Growth Priorities as defined in its Sector Competitiveness Plan (SCP). Any funding from the program will also need to be matched at least dollar-for-dollar by the sector.

Visit the mtpconnect website to download the EOI form and guidance documents, to access a recorded webinar with details on how to strengthen your application, and details to organise a one-on-one meeting with MTPConnect staff to pitch your idea for individual feedback and assistance.

CSL Centenary Fellowship Program
Australia’s biomedical researchers are invited to apply for one of two CSL Centenary Fellowships each worth $1.25 million over five years in support of discovery and translational medical research. These Fellowships are offered to outstanding mid-career scientists seeking to undertake world-class medical research at an Australian academic institution. Applications close on 31 July 2017.

Australia-India EMCR Fellowships 2018
The Australian Academy of Science invites Australian early- and mid-career researchers to apply for the Australia–India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) Early- and Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) Fellowships 2018–19. The EMCR Fellowships provide support (up to A$40,500) for Australian researchers to travel to India and work with leading researchers at major Indian science and technology organisations for a period of between 3 and 9 months.

The Capstone Editing Grant for Mid-Career Researchers
The Capstone Editing Grant for Mid-Career Researchers provides up to A$10,000 of seed funding for one researcher per year to undertake an innovative research project. The expectation is that the research project will gather preliminary data and lead to the development of a research council funding application. The grant can be used to cover any costs related to the research project, such as software or small lab equipment; domestic or overseas travel to learn new techniques or collaborate with colleagues; academic editing of the grant proposal; and data analysis. Applications are open now and close on 30 December 2017.

Cancer Research UK’s Grant Challenge
Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge is the one of the most ambitious cancer research grants in the world, with a series of £20m awards available for international, multi-disciplinary teams to take on the toughest challenges in cancer. The grants provide the freedom to try novel approaches, at scale, in the pursuit of life changing discoveries. Expressions of interest are due on 12 October 2017.

2017 Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell research
Each year, the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia awards and celebrates two exceptional mid-career stem cell researchers with the Metcalf Prizes for Stem Cell Research. The prizes recognize and honour the exceptional contribution made to stem cell research by Emeritus Professor Donald Metcalf, AC, FRS, FAA. The Metcalf Prizes are worth $50,000 and are awarded to one male and one female researcher working in Australia, and between 5-10 years post-PhD. Applications close 4 August 2017.

Australian Cancer Research Foundation
The ACRF has grants available for capital works, major equipment grants, and highly specialised reagents/standards that are essential for the operation of the equipment to be purchased in support of the detailed cancer research program. Applications close 23 July 2017.

Research Australia’s Health and Medical Research Awards
Nominations for the Research Australia Health and Medical Research Awards are now open. The awards recognise those that have made an outstanding contribution towards improving outcomes for all, either through their research or their support of research. The deadline for nominations is 17 July 2017.

Centenary Institute Medical Innovation Award
The Centenary Institute’s Medical Innovation Award recognises bold young researchers who are taking the risks to ask the big questions of today – those questions that have most people saying “but that’s impossible”. The scope of the Prize includes biomedical research in its broadest definitions, including basic and trans-disciplinary research. Applicants must have received their PhD on or after 1 January 2009. Applications close on 31 July 2017.

Queensland Health Junior Doctor Research Fellowships
The Junior Doctor Research Fellowships provide opportunities for junior doctors with limited research experience to build research skills under the mentorship and supervision of experienced researcher. Applications for Round Three of the Junior Doctor Research Fellowships close at 12pm AEST 11 August 2017.

Rebecca L Cooper Medical Research Foundation
The Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation award provides a two-year grant valued at $50,000 per year for early career researchers. The grants are designed to enable recipients to take ownership of a discreet research project and to provide a stepping stone towards independence. Research must be in the areas of  brain sciences: psychiatry or neurology (excluding dementias); endocrinology (excluding diabetes); geriatrics (excluding dementias); lung disease (other than cancer); rheumatology; vision sciences; dermatology with an emphasis on psoriasis. Applications close on 1 September 2017.


8.  Events & conferences

AusBiotech 2017 – Australia’s Life Sciences Conference – 25-27 October 2017
The AusBiotech conference brings together Australian and international biotech leaders and stakeholders in a forum to reflect on the sector’s achievements and exchange ideas to further advance the sector’s standing both nationally and globally. The 2017 conference will address pressing issues critical to industry. This will include global biotech trends, breakthroughs, challenges and success stories. There will be Panel discussions and key themes will cover regulation and reimbursement, research translational strategies, new markets, business development and capital access, emerging technologies, clinical trials and commercialisation.

National Health Innovation and Research Symposium – Mid North Coast Local Health District – 3-4 August 2017
The Mid North Coast Local Health District will host the National Health Innovation and Research Symposium on 3 – 4 August 2017. The Symposium will focus on creating a connected health environment for patients and the community. The aim is to provide a platform for information exchange through interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral collaboration. Further information is available on the event website.