AAMRI eNews 6th edition 2016

AAMRI eNews 6th edition 2016

3rd August, 2016

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – New Ministry, AAMRI staff changes, submissions and more
  2. Government update – Consultations galore, around the states, and more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – NHMRC Structural Review, awards, and more
  4. Sector news – CRC Programme Grants, new Ausbiotech CEO, and more
  5. Reports & resources
  6. Funding & award opportunities
  7. Events & conferences

1. AAMRI news

July is normally a quieter month for AAMRI with Parliament off for the winter break, but July 2016 has been anything but for both us and the sector. With the federal election, public consultation on the Structural Review of NHMRC’s Grant Program, an event in Sydney, and a changing of the guard at the AAMRI office it was a hectic month.

Same Health Minister, new Science Minister
AAMRI publicly congratulated the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, on her re-appointment to her role and welcomed the Hon Greg Hunt MP to his new role as Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. We’ve also sent letters of congratulations to the Opposition, the Greens and other members of Parliament post-election. You can find the new Ministry list here and the Shadow Ministry here.
Minister Ley has also accepted our invitation to be our guest speaker at the AAMRI 2016 Annual Dinner. If you haven’t booked for the dinner and convention yet, please do so.

Farewell Nicole, welcome Peter
We bid the fondest of farewells to Nicole den Elzen this month, as she left AAMRI to take up a new position at Baker IDI. Nicole was AAMRI’s longest serving Director of Policy and Operations and achieved much in her time with us. We now welcome Peter Thomas to the role who is looking forward to engaging and working with AAMRI members.

Sharper Incentives for Engagement: New Research Block Grant Arrangements
AAMRI has made a submission to the consultation paper on proposed new research block grant arrangements for universities, Sharper Incentives for Engagement: New Research Block Grant Arrangements.
The consultation paper puts forward new arrangements addressing many of the main recommendations within the Review of Research Policy and Funding Arrangements (the Watt review) and the ACOLA Review of Research Training. Implementing the Watt review findings by developing new arrangements for the Research Block Grants provides an opportunity to enhance the way funding support is delivered for both research and research training. You can read AAMRI’s full submission online.

Sydney MRI Directors and Board members event
AAMRI President, Professor Doug Hilton, and President-elect Professor Tony Cunningham, welcomed MRI Directors and board members at a special event in Sydney on 11 July.
Almost 40 guests attended the event in the QVB’s Tea Room. Representatives from the Sydney-based Westmead, Victor Chang, ANZAC, Garvan, Neura, Woolcock, Brien Holden Vision, Children’s Cancer, Children’s Medical and the Heart research institutes all attended.

AAMRI summary of the proposed alternative NHMRC grant program models
The NHMRC has released a consultation paper for the Structural Review of the NHMRC Grant Program, and has called for input from the sector. Three alternative grant program models are put forward in the paper. To assist members in comparing the three different models, AAMRI has compiled a summary table based on the information in the consultation paper. More on the review below.

AAMRI President Professor Doug Hilton awarded Curtin Medal
Congratulations to AAMRI President Professor Doug Hilton for being awarded the Curtin Medal for Excellence in Medical Research. The Medal was presented to Professor Hilton in recognition of his outstanding contributions to medical research in the field of immunology, and his advocacy for gender equity in science.

Doug’s update
Doug has a video update for you on what’s happening with the MRFF and NHMRC updates, and on our AAMRI staff changes.

2.  Government update 

Biomedical Translation Fund officially launched
The Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF) was officially launched at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute today by Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Greg Hunt MP. The fund was previously announced in the National Innovation and Science Agenda, and was a key recommendation of the McKeon Review. Fund managers can apply to establish a licensed fund under the BTF programme until 16 September. AAMRI put out a media release welcoming the official launch of the fund and highlighting its potential.

MRFF public consultation events
The Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, which is overseeing the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), will continue holding public consultation events around Australia this week. These consultations are part of the process to develop the Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy and the related Priorities.

MTPConnect’s Draft 10-year Sector Competitiveness Plan released
In consultation with the sector, MTPConnect, the MedTech and Pharma Growth Centre, has drafted a Sector Competitiveness Plan that outlines immediate actions to drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness in the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector.
Additionally, MTPConnect is looking for collaborative, industry-led projects through a dollar-for-dollar matched Project Fund Program. Consortia large and small are sought to creatively address some of the barriers to growth, as outlined in the Plan.

Consultation on Australia’s future research infrastructure priorities
The Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, has released an Issues Paper on Australia’s future research infrastructure capability needs and priorities. Comments on the paper are due by 9 September. Further information on the consultation process and a copy of the Issues Paper is available from the Chief Scientist’s website. Information and registration details for consultation events around Australia during August and September are in an AAMRI update from last week.

Additional NCRIS funds announced
The Federal Government has announced an additional $16 million for 10 critical research projects that will generate meaningful social and economic benefits for all Australians in areas including bioscience and health. The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) Agility Fund will “help unlock Australia’s potential as an innovation nation,” according to the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Simon Birmingham MP.

Vic: Health and Medical Research Strategy
The Victorian Government has released a new Health and Medical Research Strategy, Healthier Lives, Stronger Economy. The strategy outlines the government’s key priorities over the next four years to support new and evolving fields of world-class medical research such as precision medicine, health services research and big data. A summary and the full strategy are available online.

Qld: Queensland’s Biomedical and Life Sciences 10-Year Roadmap
A Biomedical and Life Sciences 10-Year Roadmap is being developed, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, to diversify Queensland’s industry base, create high-value, well paid, knowledge-based jobs and drive export growth, with a discussion paper written to stimulate broad engagement with stakeholders and obtain constructive feedback. Comments are encouraged to ensure the eventual roadmap and action plan effectively guides future decision-making. Submissions close 5 August.

ACT: Govt signs up to the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund
The ACT Government has signed a seven-year membership to the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), investing more than half a million dollars in the ACT’s research sector.


Structural Review of the NHMRC Grant Program
As mentioned above, the NHMRC has released a consultation paper for the Structural Review of the NHMRC Grant Program, and has called for input from the sector. Submissions are due on 25 August. At the public forum on the review at Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, NHMRC CEO Anne Kelso said the Expert Advisory Group was especially keen to hear of unintended consequences of any of the three models, and from those working in public health.
AAMRI will be making a submission on behalf of members, with consultation from our Board and member MRI Directors, but we also encourage individual MRIs and scientists to make their own submissions.

Infectious Disease Emergency Response Research funding
The NHMRC has announced almost $5 million in funding for the Centre of Research Excellence in Infectious Disease Emergency Response Research. The centre is led by Professor Sharon Lewin of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.
The centre will establish the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies, a national network of leading Australian researchers that will deliver a coordinated and evidence-based response to infectious diseases.

NHMRC Research Excellence Awards
The outstanding achievements of 17 of Australia’s most talented health and medical researchers were celebrated at the NHMRC’s annual Research Excellence Awards. Now celebrating their tenth year, these awards recognise outstanding performance and excellence in health and medical research and innovation.

Targeted Call for Research – priorities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
The NHMRC invites stakeholders and members of the public to submit research priorities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, which could form the subject of a Targeted Call for Research. Information must be provided to substantiate the nominated priority and how the research could contribute to improved health outcomes. Submissions close 4 September.

Human Research Ethics Application moves into beta testing
The NHMRC’s Human Research Ethics Application (HREA) has commenced beta testing, which will continue until 26 August. To date, 36 institutions, representing universities, public hospitals, private hospitals and other health care organisations across Australia, have confirmed their involvement in the beta testing. These sites are recruiting researchers to prepare and submit ethics applications using the HREA, coordinating the HREA processing in the ethics offices and asking their committees to review the project using the HREA.

4.  Sector news

Community to give input into advancing medical research
A $3.2 million grant from Lotterywest will allow the successful Consumer Involvement Program of the Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia’s School of Population Health to be expanded to 18 other WA organisations. The Australia-first initiative will give the public a direct say and input into medical research.

Successful CRC-P 1st Selection Round Projects
Just over $3 million has been awarded to life sciences under the Cooperative Research Centres Projects stream of the CRC Programme. Grants were awarded for an antibody based in vitro diagnostic for metastatic cancer and for strengthening Australia’s radiopharmaceutical development capabilities.

Ausbiotech CEO steps down
Long-time Ausbiotech CEO, Dr Anna Lavelle, will hand over leadership of the organisation after more than 11 years of service to the Australian biotechnology industry – to be succeeded by AusBiotech’s current Chief Operating Officer, Glenn Cross. The changes will take effect from 1 September 2016 and see Dr Lavelle’s tenure at AusBiotech continue in the role of Principal Advisor to the Board.

Science & Technology Australia’s new CEO commences
Science & Technology Australia has appointed Kylie Walker as its chief executive officer. Ms Walker was formerly Director of Communications and Outreach at the Australian Academy of Science.

5.  Reports and resources

Securing Australia’s Future – Skills and capabilities for Australian enterprise innovation
This report from the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), provides a window into the business practices of innovation leaders today, and insight to the expectations on workers in the decades ahead. The report finds skill integration is a strong and growing theme in the workplace strategies of 19 case study enterprises, including the iconic Cochlear (medical technologies). The report is available online.

OECD health-care quality indicators for Australia 2015
This report summarises information Australia provided to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Health at a glance 2015 report, and compares data supplied by Australia in 2015 with data it supplied for previous years and with data reported by other OECD countries.

Infographic: how much does Australia spend on science and research?
The latest OECD figures show that Australia is behind many other OECD countries when it comes to federal government funding for research and development. As a percentage of GDP, the government only spends 0.4% on research and development, less than comparable nations.

AIHW report: Use of medicines by older people with type 2 diabetes
This Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report describes dispensing patterns of glucose lowering medicines and medicines for other conditions associated with diabetes in a concessional population cohort of Australians aged 65 and over diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It uses linked data from the National Diabetes Services Scheme and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to explore medicine supply patterns in 2012 by age and time since diabetes diagnosis.

AIHW report: Skin cancer in Australia
Skin cancers overall account for the largest number of cancers diagnosed in Australia each year and Australia has the world’s second highest melanoma incidence rates, according to a report released by the AIHW.

AIHW report: Poisoning in children and young people 2012–13
This report provides information about children and young people aged 0–24 who were hospitalised as a result of poisoning in Australia. Almost half (49%) of all cases occurred among 18–24 year olds and a quarter among 15–17 year olds (26%).

AIHW report: Non-admitted patient care 2014–15: Australian hospital statistics
In 2014–15, about 34.9 million non-admitted patient service events were provided by Australia’s public hospitals. About 46% of non-admitted patient service events occurred in Allied health and/or clinical nurse specialist clinics, 30% were in Medical consultation clinics, 13% in Procedural clinics and 10% in Stand-alone diagnostic clinics.

6.  Funding & award opportunities

Centenary Institute Lawrence Creative Prize 2016
The Lawrence Creative Prize recognises bold young researchers who are taking the risks to ask the big questions of today. It will be presented to the Medical research scientist based in Australia who demonstrates the greatest creativity in their scientific approach in a given year. The overall winner receives $25,000, with two $5000 prizes for the runners-up, and a $1000 People’s Choice award. Entries close 5 August.

180 Seconds of Science
The 180 Seconds of Science video competition provides EMCRs with an opportunity to share their passion for innovative research with the public, showing what you can do in 180 Seconds. Four category winners will be invited to Science Pathways 2016 (see below), and a number of $2000 prizes are on offer. Submissions close 13 August.

Slater and Gordon Health Projects and Research Fund
This fund provides grants of up to $25,000 to eligible not for profit organisations in Australia and the UK that focus on illness and injury prevention, and the improvement of treatment and care for people with: an asbestos-related illness; an occupational-caused cancer; or significant disability caused by catastrophic spinal cord or brain injuries. The 2016 grant round closes on 26 August. Email researchfund@slatergordon.com.au for a copy of the Grant Application Guidelines.

MND Research Institute of Australia Research Grants
The Motor Neurone Disease Research Institute of Australia is inviting applications for: postdoctoral fellowships; grants-in-aid; PhD top-up grants; the Susie Harris Travel Fellowship. Proposals for postdoctoral fellowships and grants-in-aid must reach research@mndaust.asn.au by 26 August. Applications for PhD top-up grants and the Susie Harris Travel Fellowship will close on 27 January 2017.

Search for Victorian health promotion champions
Organisations from across Victoria are encouraged to enter the 2016 VicHealth Awards, recognising the state’s most innovative and successful health promotion work. Nominations close 19 August.

2017 Australia-Harvard Fellowships
Australia-Harvard Fellowship awards are available to researchers and educators in biosciences and medicine who have links with scientific and medical research and/or education activities in Australia. Typically, a Fellowship award is sufficient to cover the Fellow’s return international travel, project-related travel within the country, and reasonable living and accommodation expenses for the period. Applications close 12 September.

7.  Events & conferences

Science Pathways 2016: Future Leaders, Sydney, 26-27 September
The EMCR Forum’s fourth national meeting will bring together EMCRs and scientific leaders from academia, industry and government, and will provide insights from nationally and internationally recognised leaders who will explain what leadership in their industry means, and how to develop yourself as a leader in their sector.