Medical research heavyweights to help guide MRFF distributions

Medical research heavyweights to help guide MRFF distributions

4th April, 2016

The announcement of the expert advisory board that will guide priorities for the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is another milestone in the full realisation of this visionary fund for medical research and innovative healthcare in this country, Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) President Professor Doug Hilton says.

Professor Hilton is among eight appointees to the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, to be chaired by former Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer AC.

The Board will be responsible for shaping the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy (every five years) and the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities (every two years) to guide the allocation of financial assistance and grants from the MRFF.

“It’s an honour to be appointed to such an important board that will help shape the future of medical research in this country, and its translation into better health outcomes for our community,” Professor Hilton said.

“I’m pleased to see so many stellar contributors to health and medical research on the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, alongside some of Australia’s finest leaders from health policy and research commercialisation.

“The members of this Board bring a broad understanding of all the components that make up successful medical innovation, from fundamental research, public health research and clinical trials through to commercialisation and translation of research from bench to bedside.

“We look forward to seeing Australian health and medical research better funded through distributions from the MRFF, overseen by this Board.”

The MRFF is expected to deliver more than $400 million in disbursements to researchers over the next four years, building to $1 billion per year by 2020. This funding is in addition to medical research funding currently provided by the NHMRC, and will double Federal Government funding for medical research and innovation.

“This visionary fund couldn’t come at a better time after yet another year of record-low NHMRC success rates in 2015,” Professor Hilton said.

“The Board announcement brings with it renewed confidence for the health and medical research sector, knowing that within the decade we will have a doubling of funding for medical research via a safe-guarded future fund.

“We’ve still got a long way to get to $20 billion in the MRFF, and with it the doubling of funding to our sector, but it’s great to see the Government honouring its commitment to health and medical research by appointing this Board.”

Professor Hilton said that medical innovation supported by the MRFF would not only improve life expectancy and quality of life for Australians, it would also deliver financial returns to the nation by reducing the burden of disease on the health system and productivity through the creation of innovative businesses and jobs.

“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 condition/s.”

Media Contact: Rebecca Thorpe, 0401 419 590, rebecca.thorpe@aamri.org.au.

 

Fast Facts about the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board

  • The members of the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board are:
    • Professor Ian Frazer AC (Chair)
    • Professor Anne Kelso AO, CEO, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
    • Professor Doug Hilton, President, Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI)
    • Professor Peter Hoj, Vice Chancellor, University of Queensland
    • Professor Karen Reynolds, Flinders University and Chair, Biomedical Engineering College, Engineers Australia
    • Dr Deborah Rathjen, CEO & Managing Director, Bionomics
    • Yasser El-Ansary, Chief Executive, AVCAL (Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association Limited)
    • Jennifer Williams, former Chief Executive, Australian Red Cross Blood Service
  • The Advisory Board will develop a five-year Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy to ensure that a coherent and consistent approach is adopted in the funding of medical research and innovation from the MRFF.
  • The Advisory Board will also develop and publish research priorities every two years.
  • The Health Minister must take into account the Board’s priorities in the allocation of financial assistance from the MRFF.
  • The Advisory Board must consult organisations with expertise in medical research or medical innovation and organisations that represent consumers who would benefit from medical research or innovation in preparing its strategy and priorities.
  • The CEO of the NHMRC will have a permanent seat on the Advisory Board to support coordination of approaches.
  • For transparency, the Minister for Health will also be required by law to report to the Parliament once every two years on how research funded by the MRFF meets the strategy and priorities that are independently set by the Advisory Board.
  • The reports from the Minister for Health will also outline how the spending profile for the MRFF compares against other sources of Commonwealth funding for medical research and innovation. This will demonstrate the MRFF is building upon existing funding.