AAMRI eNews 3rd edition 2017

AAMRI eNews 3rd edition 2017

10th April, 2017

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – Melbourne member event, ATO submission, and more
  2. Government update – ISA 2030 Strategic Plan consultation, and more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – NHMRC TRIP Fellowships open, and more
  4. Sector news – CSIRO Medtech & Pharma Roadmap, and more
  5. Reports & resources
  6. Funding & award opportunities
  7. Events, conferences & training

1. AAMRI news

AAMRI Melbourne member event
On 27 March, AAMRI member gathered at The Florey Institute to hear from AAMRI President Professor Tony Cunningham about what is on the agenda for AAMRI in the coming year, on both the national and state stages. Tony spoke about the Medical Research Future Fund and other ongoing issues including the need to address indirect costs. Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Medical Research Frank McGuire MLA also spoke to the audience, expressing the Victorian Government’s commitment to medical research and the important role it plays in the Victorian economy.

AAMRI submission to the review of Australian Taxation Office Advice on scholarships
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is undertaking a review of its taxation advice on scholarships. AAMRI has put forward a submission in response to a discussion paper released by the ATO. In the discussion paper the ATO is considering the income tax eligibility status of scholarships that result in commercial benefits being delivered to the scholarship provider. This can sometimes be the case for scholarships that provide industry placements. AAMRI’s submission states that the principle purpose of a scholarship, to support students in achieving a qualification and skills, should be the determining principle when deciding the income tax exemption status of a scholarship.

ICYMI: Australian National Science Statement 2017
The Federal Government released the Australian National Science Statement 2017 late last month, providing a framework to ensure Australia’s science remains world-class.
AAMRI put out a media release supporting the Statement, especially its highlighting of the importance of the Medical Research Future Fund, and the role medical research plays in improving Australians’ health and the economy. Medical research is described as one of the five major strategic science-related initiatives in the Statement.

MRFF Priorities video
Thanks to everyone who has viewed and shared our video on the MRFF Priorities. If you haven’t seen or shared it yet, please check it out.

2.  Government update 

Consultation on Innovation and Science Australia’s 2030 Strategic Plan
Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) is seeking views on the key challenges and opportunities in the Australian innovation system, and has released an Issues Paper for consultation. The Issues Paper nominates six challenges ISA sees as central to shaping the strategy, and suggests themes and questions for discussion. Submissions close 31 May. AAMRI will be making a submission on behalf of our members.

Vision for bionic eye steps closer to reality
Bionic Vision Australia, an Australian Government supported research consortium, has announced it has secured substantial international investment—US$18 million—into its commercialisation company, Bionic Vision Technologies, to manufacture a bionic eye implant. The foreign investment into Bionic Vision Technologies was made by Hong Kong-based company, China Huarong International Holdings Limited, together with State Path Capital Limited BVI.
AAMRI members the Bionics Institute and the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) are members of the Bionic Vision Australia consortium.

Opportunity to participate in audit for the Medical Countermeasures Initiative
Industry, academia and publicly funded research agencies are invited to participate in an audit of Australia’s capability and capacity to support Medical Countermeasures product research and development. The audit closes on 10 April.

New Mental Health Advisory Panel appointed
The Federal Government is establishing a new mental health advisory panel, a key element of its Long Term National Health Plan. The Primary Health Network Advisory Panel on Mental Health will work closely with the Federal Government on its plan to deliver more frontline mental health services.

New abilities to enhance cancer research at the Australian Synchrotron
The Australian Synchrotron’s new multi-million dollar Australian Cancer Research Foundation Detector will fast-track new and better ways of responding to cancer by more than doubling the beamline’s capacity to collect data.

COAG Health Council Communique
The Federal and state and territory Health Ministers met in Melbourne on 24 March at the COAG Health Council to discuss a range of national health issues. Major issues discussed included advancing the clinical trial environment, an increase in Meningococcal W infections, and an update on medical research at Commonwealth and state level, including the Medical Research Future Fund.

Consultation: Social and Cultural Determinants of Indigenous Health
The Department of Health is inviting submissions from organisations and individuals on the social and cultural determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Submissions close on 30 April.

Consultation: Strengthening monitoring of medicines in Australia
The Therapeutic Goods Administration is proposing to implement changes that will strengthen safety monitoring for medicines available in Australia. The changes will apply to medicines only and will be implemented progressively from late 2017 onward. Submissions close 1 May.

Government strengthens NISA tax incentives and tax compliance
The Australian Government has strengthened tax incentives for investors in start-ups and has simplified information sharing between the ATO and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission with the passage of the Treasury Laws Amendment (2017 Measures No.1) Bill 2017 through Parliament last week.
The legislation provides certainty for investors who are looking to invest in start-ups and certain venture capital arrangements through an interposed trust. This will ensure that investors are able to access the capital gain concessions provided by the new tax incentives for early stage investors and arrangements for Venture Capital Limited Partnerships measures delivered through the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Vic: Collaboration key to tackling public health issues
Health promotion foundation VicHealth has announced up to $500,000 in funding to foster new international research partnerships addressing the impact of emerging challenges on public health. VicHealth’s Sustainable Development Goals Partnership grants aim to foster collaboration between Victorian and international partners to explore how social and environmental issues such as climate change, ageing populations and the exponential growth of technology will affect our health over the next two decades.

NSW: Mental Health Innovation Fund Round 2
The Innovation Fund Round 2 will provide seed funding for innovative local initiatives that aim to improve mental health service delivery and outcomes in NSW in five specific target areas. Applications for the fund close 9 May.


Translating Research Into Practice (TRIP) Fellowships
NHMRC TRIP Fellowships provide support for health care professionals (e.g medical specialists, general practitioners, public health practitioners, physiotherapists, nurses, midwives, radiologists, and other allied health providers), health care personnel (health service managers, hospital department leaders, clinical trial managers) health systems personnel, health researchers and health policy makers to translate evidence into health care and public health improvements. Applications for 2017 Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) Fellowships for funding commencing in 2018 close on 31 May.

Insufficient evidence for the safety of e-cigarettes
NHMRC CEO, Professor Anne Kelso AO, has released a statement updating Australians on the latest evidence for the safety, quality and efficacy of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). The statement concludes that ‘there is currently insufficient evidence to support claims that e-cigarettes are safe, and further research is required to enable the long-term safety, quality and efficacy of e‑cigarettes to be assessed.’

NHMRC Program Grants applications open
Funding for 2017 Program Grants commencing in 2019 is now open. Program Grants provide support for teams of high calibre researchers to pursue broad based, multi-disciplinary and collaborative research activities. Teams will be expected to contribute to new knowledge at a leading international level in important areas of health and medical research. The scheme is available for all research approaches relevant to better health—biomedical, clinical, public health or health services research and is typically for five years. Applications close 17 May.

Report on the activity of Human Research Ethics Committees and certified institutions for 2015
Organisations and their HRECs that are certified under the National Certification Scheme of Institutional Processes related to the Ethical Review of Multi-centre Research are obliged to also self-report on activities related to the ethics review of multi-centre research. The latest report is now available.

Linkage Projects—new industry-research collaboration
An additional $1.4 million to support three new research projects funded under the ARC Linkage Projects scheme has been announced, including  $466,072 to Dr Monika Doblin from Melbourne University, for a project working with Under the Tree Biopharmaceuticals, to improve yields of therapeutically-active cannabinoids to resource a new and growing global industry.

4.  Sector news

CSIRO Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Roadmap
CSIRO has revealed a blueprint for how medical technologies and pharmaceuticals (MTP) could add $18 billion to the Australian economy and about 28,000 new jobs within the next eight years. The Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Roadmap, sets out a path for how Australia could become an important player in the MTP sector, which is expected to grow to almost $3 trillion globally by 2025. The roadmap was written in collaboration with industry, government and researchers.

Australian scientists begin world’s largest genetic study into depression
QIMR Berghofer researchers are seeking 20,000 Australians who have been treated for clinical depression to take part in the world’s largest genetic investigation into the devastating illness.
The Australian Genetics of Depression Study aims to find:

  • Genetic markers common to people who have experienced depression, compared to those who have not; and
  • Genetic markers common to people who respond well to anti-depressant medication, compared to those who do not.

Japanese company to make Adelaide the birthplace of clinical trial SMOs in Australia
Tokyo-based I’rom Group Co Ltd has invested AU$10 million for a 61% share in CMAX Clinical Research Pty Ltd, a Phase 1 clinical trials unit in Adelaide, and plans to fully acquire CMAX after June 2017. I’rom pioneered the Site Management Organisation (SMO) model for conducting clinical trials in Japan, a segment of the R&D market that is now valued at more than AU$350 million a year in Japan, and employs more than 5,000 people.

Postdoc working conditions survey
The Life Science Network is collecting data on postdoc working conditions and training in different countries around the world. If you are a postdoc, please consider adding your thoughts to the quick, anonymous survey and sharing with postdoc friends and colleagues. The data collected will be shared later in the year when the project is finished.

19th round for CRCs to open soon
With the 19th round for Cooperative Research Centres opening soon, the CRC Association has put together a list of common issues that bidders need to be on top of well ahead of lodging their bid.

Gates Foundation announces open-access publishing venture
The Gates Foundation is set to launch its own open-access publishing venture later this year. The initiative, Gates Open Research, will be modeled on a service begun last year by the Wellcome Trust. Like that effort, the Gates Foundation’s platform is intended to accelerate the publication of articles and data from research funded by the charity.

5.  Reports and resources

Australia will lead world in medical technology, says Bill Ferris
Innovation and Science Australia chair Bill Ferris has pinpointed the medical technology sector as the shining light of the country’s innovation, believing it could become the world leader in genomic medicine. His comments appeared in an article in the Australian Financial Review.

Rates of girls immunised against HPV improve, but some local communities lag behind
Significant improvements have been made across Australia in immunising girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV), according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). The school-based National HPV Vaccination Program for girls began in 2007, and was extended to include boys in 2013.

Life expectancy and disability in Australia: expected years living with and without disability
Australians are living longer, and their state of health in these years has important implications for population health and wellbeing and for Australia’s health and care systems. Between 2003 and 2015, life expectancy at birth increased for both sexes, and most of this increase corresponded with an increase in years living free of disability and free of severe or profound core activity limitation. Older Australians have also seen increases in the expected number of years living free of disability, according to this AIHW report.

AIHW report: Burden of lower limb amputations due to diabetes in Australia
The Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 captured four complications of diabetes-diabetic neuropathy, diabetic foot ulcer, lower limb amputation, and vision impairment-and their prevalence and burden were estimated. In 2011, it was estimated that about 730,000 Australians had diagnosed diabetes, 1.7% (12,300) of whom experienced lower limb amputation.

6.  Funding & award opportunities

The Bridge Program
Queensland University of Technology, in collaboration with MTPConnect and 14 pharmaceutical companies, universities and industry associations, will be delivering an innovative education program that will provide the necessary training to enable the successful commercialisation of Australian pharmaceutical research. The program will select participants from across Australia to take part in face-to-face and online training in the scientific, legal, financial, clinical, regulatory and reimbursement disciplines that contribute to research translation and the commercialisation of medicines. Some fees are involved but scholarships and waivers are available. The six-month program commences in June.

‘Researcher in Residence’ opportunity
A short-term ‘Researcher in Residence’ opportunity will be provided for up to five early career researchers from Biomedical Research Victoria Member organisations to be placed part-time in the Victorian office of a range of state and federal parliamentarians and government agencies. Expressions of interest close 26 April.

The Bioinformatics Peer Prize
The inaugural ‘Peer Prize’ for bioinformatics aims to accelerate wider knowledge exchange and drive multi-disciplinary collaboration with the latest bioinformatics research from around the world, while celebrating the most exciting new discoveries made in the field as voted by peers. Submissions close 30 April.

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science – closing soon
The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are Australia’s most prestigious and highly regarded awards for outstanding achievements in scientific research, research-based innovation and excellence in science teaching.
Seven prizes are awarded annually to Australian citizens or permanent residents recognising the contributions that our scientists, innovators and science teachers are making to Australia’s current and future scientific capabilities.
Nominators should read the relevant guidelines for their chosen prize and submit their nomination online. Nominations close on 12 April.

7.  Events, conferences & training

Learning opportunities in ethics and other research management essentials
PRAXIS Australia provides an array of training resources for ethics committee, researchers and others involved in the planning, review and conduct of research. They have a number of webinars and short courses coming up around Australia.

Australian National Data Service webinars in May
ANDS will be hosting a series of three short 30 minutes lunchtime webinars that aim to support better management and publication of health and medical data. These webinars will be recorded. If you can’t attend register and you will be sent the recording and handout links.

ATSE 2017 Dialogue: The Crisis in Ageing, Brisbane, 14 June
This Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering event will discuss how health technology can help Australia rise to the challenge of adapting to the ageing face of the nation, in order to mitigate issues of rising and shifting healthcare costs and needs. Australian and international experts will address fields including economic and societal impacts, leapfrog technologies, personalised health and prevention.

6th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation, Brisbane, 14-15 November
This year’s symposium will be co-hosted by the NHMRC and the Lowitja Institute. Under the theme “The Butterfly Effect: Translating Knowledge into Action for Positive Change”, the Symposium will present an opportunity to focus on action needed to improve the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples through effective translation of health, wellbeing and medical research into policy and practice. It will also be a forum to share knowledge of what successful research looks like at community level and what the key elements of success are. Abstracts are due by 9 June.