AAMRI eNews 7th edition 2015

AAMRI eNews 7th edition 2015

2nd September, 2015

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – MRFF update, AAMRI Convention reminder, AAMRI submission on research training
  2. Government update – Review of research block funding, IP inquiry & more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – NHMRC committees announced, Code of Research Conduct review & more
  4. Sector news – Vale Professor Brien Holden, forum on open access to data & more
  5. Reports & resources
  6. Funding & award opportunities
  7. Upcoming conferences & events

1. AAMRI news

MRFF update
The Governor-General approved the MRFF legislation on 26 August, paving the way for the appointment of the MRFF Advisory Board and for the remaining money in the Heath and Hospitals Fund to be transferred to open the MRFF account. You can find the final MRFF Bill online. A summary of amendments made to the MRFF Bill to improve governance and transparency is outlined in our recent MRFF update.

In response to some negative commentary on the MRFF in The Australian on 19 August, the AAMRI Board wrote a letter to the editor expressing their views on the transformational nature of the fund and the improved governance arrangements in the final MRFF Bill. Niki Savva also had a column in The Australian on 27 August highlighting the broad coalition that makes up the MRFF Action Group and some of the behind-the-scenes work that went into making the MRFF a reality.

We’ll soon be launching our television and online campaign “What’s the fuss?”, letting the community know why health & medical research is so important to Australia and why investing in it via the MRFF is critical to the nation’s future. The MRFF Action Group has been incredibly fortunate to have had creative services provided to us pro bono by Big Red, along with pro bono air time provided by several television stations. The campaign features prominent medical researchers, patients and celebrities connected with medical research including Carrie Bickmore and Ita Buttrose.

AAMRI 2015 Convention, Canberra, 11-12 November
If you are a Business Manager or Director of an AAMRI member institute, don’t forget to register for the AAMRI Convention in November (a free member-only event). We’ve just added a new function to the program – the AAMRI President’s breakfast, with a special guest speaker we hope to announce soon. Confirmed speakers for the MRI Directors’ meeting include Graeme Samuel AC (Chair, MRI Review Panel) and Chris Nave (Principal Executive, Medical Research Commercialisation Fund), with more to follow. If you have any questions about the convention, please get in touch with Rebecca Thorpe.

AAMRI submission to the review of research training
The Review of Australia’s Research Training System is being carried out by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) on behalf of the Australian Government. AAMRI’s submission supports mandatory training of PhD students in key skills areas, including technology transfer, project management and communication skills. It also calls for more equitable distribution of government funding for the training of PhD/Masters students to those organisations outside of the university sector that also train post-graduate students, including medical research institutes and hospitals.
You can register your interest in attending one of several consultation events being held in October-November across the country.

2.  Government update 

National Science Week speeches
During the recent National Science Week the Minister for Industry and Science, The Hon Ian Macfarlane, Opposition Leader, The Hon Bill Shorten, and Greens Senator Janet Rice all made speeches in Federal Parliament about the importance of science to Australia’s future.

Federal review of research funding and policy
The Australian Government has announced a review of university research funding and policy as part of its plan to boost the commercial returns from research. The review includes consideration of simpler and more transparent approaches to the allocation of funding for the indirect costs of research. The review will be undertaken by Dr Ian Watt AO (former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet), assisted by an expert working group, with a report due by November 2015. An issues paper was released in August, with submissions due by 18 September. AAMRI will contact member institutes shortly for input into our submission.

Intellectual property inquiry
Treasurer Joe Hockey has asked the Productivity Commission to commence an inquiry into Australia’s intellectual property arrangements, due August 2016. The inquiry will examine whether Australia has the right balance between access to ideas and products, and encouraging innovation, investment and production of creative works. An issues paper has not yet been released, but you can register your interest to be informed of the review’s progress.

Interim report on Australia’s innovation system
The Senate Economics References Committee has tabled its interim report on the inquiry into Australia’s innovation system, which highlights the importance of science, research and innovation in creating the jobs and industries of the future. The interim report includes a comprehensive issues paper by Professor Roy Green summarising the key issues and emerging trends identified in the 181 submissions received to date. The final report is due 25 November 2015.

Review of National Survey of Research Commercialisation
The final report of the Review of the National Survey of Research Commercialisation (NSRC) is now available, along with submissions made to the NSRC review discussion paper. A number of actions identified to improve the NSRC will be progressively implemented by the Department of Industry and Science.

WA initiative to improve health research translation
The WA Government has announced $1.3 million in funding for two initiatives to improve the translation of research into practical outcomes and to increase research capacity among Western Australia’s health and medical researchers. The WA Health Translation Network will receive $650,000, and another $650,000 will go towards a new training program for researchers.

NSW Government funding for research equipment and cannabis trial
The NSW Government has announced Australia’s first medical cannabis trial for terminally ill adults as part of its $9 million commitment to support medical cannabis clinical trials. It also announced $5.5 million in funding to the 17 recipients of the 2015 Cancer Institute NSW Research Equipment Grants, providing researchers with the tools they need to gain new insights into cancer and novel treatments.

SA medical device industry alliance
The SA Government is investing $750,000 to form the MedDev Alliance, an alliance of South Australian medical device manufacturers aimed at boosting the state’s presence in the globally growing sector.

Victorian strategies for medical research, medtech and pharmaceuticals sectors
The Victorian Government has released two discussion papers related to medical research and the medtech/pharmaceuticals sector. The first discussion paper will guide the development of a Victorian Health and Medical Research Strategy. This work complements another discussion paper on the future of the medical technology and pharmaceuticals sector, which will help inform the Victorian  Government’s $200 million Future Industries Fund. Submissions have closed for the health and medical research strategy, while submissions into the medtech/pharmaceuticals sector close on 7 September.

Advance Queensland initiative – $180 million for research & innovation
The Advance Queensland initiative, investing $180 million over four years in innovation, skills, education, business development and startups to diversify the Queensland economy and deliver knowledge-based jobs, was one of the highlights of the Queensland Government budget handed down in July.
The initiative includes $50 million to attract and develop world-class researchers, a $40 million Business Development Fund providing early-stage venture capital, $45 million to support collaborative R&D projects, a $12 million Commercialisation Program for proof-of-concept projects, and a $24 million Startup Queensland Program to attract and increase the formation of startup companies.
See further below for funding rounds that are currently open. You can subscribe for updates on future Advance Queensland funding opportunities.


Experts appointed to NHMRC Council and committees
Thirteen leading health researchers, academics, clinicians and administrators were appointed to the Council of the NHMRC for 2015-2018. The Health Minister also announced those experts appointed to five NHMRC committees tasked with providing advice and guidance to the NHMRC Council and CEO. Congratulations to all the appointees.

NHMRC 2016 funding calendar
The NHMRC has released key application dates for the 2016 round of NHMRC funding shemes.

Draft NHMRC policy on research misconduct
The NHMRC is proposing to replace the NHMRC Policy on Actions to be Taken in Response to Research Misconduct Involving NHMRC Funding with a new draft policy. NHMRC Administering Institutions are invited to provide feedback on any issues with the draft policy by 11 September.

Review of the Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research
The NHMRC, ARC and Universities Australia are undertaking a review of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. The review process includes both targeted and public consultations. AAMRI has been invited to participate in the initial targeted consultation, and will contact member institutes during September to coordinate input into our submission.

Consultation on ethical guidelines on the use of reproductive technology
The NHMRC has opened a public consultation on draft changes to the clinical practice section of the Ethical Guidelines on the Use of Assisted Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice and Research, 2007. Submissions close on 17 September.

Good Practice Process for site assessment and authorisation of clinical trials
The NHMRC has developed the Good Practice Process for Site Assessment and Authorisation Phases of Clinical Trial Research Governance (the Good Practice Process). The Good Practice Process aims to streamline the site assessment and authorisation of clinical trials by outlining a set of principles and critical success factors; a set of planning and preparation activities to make a site more clinical trial ready; and a proposed streamlined workflow for site assessment and authorisation. The Good Practice Process is being trialled in 16 clinical trial sites across Australia.

Announcement of NHMRC dementia research institute, grants and priorities
The Federal Government has announced how part of its $200 million commitment to dementia research will be distributed. Six team grants totalling $35.6 million were awarded, and Alzheimer’s Australia was announced to run the NHMRC’s $50 million National Institute for Dementia Research.The Health Minister also released the NHMRC National Dementia Research & Translation Priority Framework, including five national dementia priorities.

NHMRC awards $5 million for diabetes research
Three Australian research teams have been awarded a total of $5 million in diabetes research funding from the NHMRC as part of a multi-country grant call through the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases.

ARC Linkage Project funding announced
The Federal Government announced $87 million in funding for 252 ARC Linkage Projects to support collaborations between university-based researchers and industry or other partner organisations.

Upcoming variations to the NHMRC Funding Agreement
Following consultation, the NHMRC is varying its January 2014 Funding Agreement. Further details, including a summary of the changes that will take effect on 1 October 2015, are on the NHMRC website.

Two new streams for NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence
The second round of the NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence for 2015 (for funding in 2016) is likely to include two additional streams: Infectious Disease Emergency Response Research, and Indigenous Researcher Capacity Building. More details will be available when applications open on 11 November.

Notice of Intent for the NIH BRAIN Initiative call released
The NIH and NHMRC will cooperate in a BRAIN Initiative involving Australian and US scientists. The NIH has released a Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for BRAIN Initiative: Foundations of Non-Invasive Human Brain Imaging and Neuro-Recording Techniques (R01) in participation with the NHMRC. This Notice aims to provide applicants with sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and competitive projects. The full call for applicants is expected to be published in October, with applications due in December 2015.

4.  Sector news

Vale Professor Brien Holden OAM
We were saddened to learn that Professor Brien Holden OAM, CEO of the Brien Holden Vision Institute and a Professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at UNSW, passed away in July. Professor Holden’s career was spent inspiring scientists and health care professionals around the world with his dream of ‘vision for everyone, everywhere’.

Nominate for the Academy of Science EMCR Forum Executive
Expressions of interest to join the 2016 executive of the Australian Academy of Science’s Early- and Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) Forum will open from 7 September – 4 October. The forum champions improvement in the national research environment, and is looking for motivated people who combine research excellence with a passion for advocacy. Further information on the EMCR Forum and how to apply will be available on the EMCR Forum website.

Forum on increasing access to data from publicly funded research
This free forum hosted by the Australasian Research Management Society and the Australian National Data Service in Canberra on 10 September will facilitate dialogue on the opportunities, challenges and actions needed to increase access to research data. The forum will include a panel consisting of ARC CEO Professor Aidan Byrne and the NHMRC’s Executive Director of Evidence, Advice and Governance, Samantha Robertson, among  others.

Eureka Prize winners
Congratulations to all the Eureka Prize winners, finalists and runners-up. Health and medical researchers were well represented among the prize winners, including scientists from the Garvan and Walter & Eliza Hall institutes.

UA partners with Canada in global research internship program
Universities Australia has signed an agreement with Canadian organisation, Mitacs, which will allow Australian undergraduate students to participate in an elite research internship programme in Canada for the first time. The Mitacs Globalink Research Internship (GRI) is a competitive initiative already available to undergraduate students from Brazil, China, France, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Vietnam. The program is highly sought after, attracting several thousand applications each year.

5.  Reports and resources

Ten of the Best NHMRC research projects
Ten NHMRC research grants that led to ground-breaking medical discoveries and important changes to health care have been highlighted in this year’s Ten of the Best Research Projects.

AIHW report reveals 50% of Australians battling chronic disease
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released new statistics showing that about half of all Australians have at least one chronic disease. The statistics also show that one-in-five Australians have at least two of the most common eight chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental health conditions.

Australian youth mental health survey published
The Australian Government released the Second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being, the largest ever survey of youth mental health in Australia. The survey found that one in seven children and young people experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months – the equivalent of 560,000 young Australians. About one in 13 teenagers (aged 12 to 17) reported contemplating suicide – the equivalent of 128,000 youth – with one in 20 reportedly making a plan to take their own life and one in 40 attempting it.

Report recommends healthcare system funding reform
More than 30 healthcare experts and community representatives have issued a report calling for immediate changes to the way Australia’s healthcare system is funded. Investing in healthier lives: Pathways to healthcare financing reform in Australia was compiled following a roundtable workshop, and made seven recommendations.

Falls most common cause of injury — with numbers rising
More Australians are being hospitalised for injuries, with falls both the leading cause of injury hospitalisation and the type of injury that has increased the most in recent years, according to a new report by the AIHW.

Cancer death rate projected to decrease over next decade
The current downward trend in cancer death rates looks set to continue, according to a new AIHW report. Cancer mortality trends and projections: 2013 to 2025, shows that between 2013 and 2025, the death rate from all cancers is predicted to decrease from an estimated 214 to 183 deaths per 100,000 males, and from 135 to 120 deaths per 100,000 females.

Arthritis sufferers likely to have at least one other chronic condition
New information released by the AIHW shows that about three quarters of people with arthritis are also affected by at least one other chronic condition. About 3.3 million Australians – or 1 in every 7 people – reported having some form of arthritis in 2011-12. Of these, 2.4 million also had another chronic condition.

Lower death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cardiac conditions
A new AIHW report shows that there have been some improvements in cardiac care and lower death rates from cardiac conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The AIHW report Better Cardiac Care measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: 2015 shows that the death rate from cardiac conditions for Indigenous Australians decreased by 41% between 1998 and 2012, from 347 to 215 per 100,000 people.

World Alzheimer’s Report 2015 – dementia to cost $1 trillion within three years
The Global Impact of Dementia: An analysis of prevalence, incidence, cost and trends report finds there are currently 46.8 million people living with dementia around the world, with numbers projected to nearly double every 20 years, increasing to 74.7 million by 2030. The report also indicates that the current annual cost of dementia is US$818 billion, and is expected to become a trillion dollar disease in just three years’ time. This shows that the cost of dementia has increased by 35% since the 2010 World Alzheimer’s Report, which estimated US$604 billion.

6.  Funding & award opportunities

Qld: Emergency medicine grants
Queensland Emergency Medicine Research Foundation (QEMRF) supports high quality research directed at improving the care of patients in Emergency Departments and develops emergency medicine research capacity in Queensland. Up to $370,000 in research funding is available in its latest funding round. Applications close 6 September.

The Australian Innovation Challenge
Now in its fifth year, the Challenge has attracted entries from researchers in laboratories and start-up companies around the country, from people making a difference in university lecture theatres, schools and the community, and from backyard heroes inventing in their spare time. Entries close 7 September.

Have your costs covered for the 2015 Australian Frontiers of Science
Applications are open to early and mid-career researchers to attend the Australian Academy of Science’s 2015 Theo Murphy Australian Frontiers of Science Symposium – Materials for the 21st century: From design to application to be held in Melbourne on 9-11 December. Registration, travel and accommodation costs of successful applicants will be covered by the Theo Murphy (Australia) Fund. Applications close 7 September.

Harkness Fellowship for Australian Health Professionals
Promising academic researchers, clinicians, hospital and insurance managers, and government policymakers from Australia are invited to apply for the opportunity to spend up to 12 months in the US working with leading US experts to study health care delivery reforms and critical issues in the health policy agenda in both the US and their home countries. Applications close 8 September.

Johnson & Johnson Industry Excellence Awards
The Johnson & Johnson Innovation 2015 Industry Excellence Awards will be awarded to individuals and organisations that have made a significant contribution to the biotechnology industry, and through their leadership, continue to make a difference to the growth of the bio-economy. Nominations close 11 September.

EMBL Australia scholarships
Up to five fully-funded PhD scholarships of $30,000 per annum are being offered to successful applicants for the EMBL Australia International PhD program. The scholarships include travel grants and participation fees for EMBL courses and symposia. Applications close 16 September.

Vic: veski innovation fellowships
Applications are open for the 2015 veski innovation fellowships from individuals with outstanding skills in the fields of science and innovative technology, typically in the top five per cent of their fields. Successful individuals may receive up to $50,000 per annum for a maximum of three years to undertake their research in Victoria. Applications close 17 September.

Juvenile diabetes mentored clinician fellowships and career development awards
The Mentored Clinician Researcher Fellowship provides an opportunity for qualified and promising clinicians to increase their research capacity in the field of type 1 diabetes, and to enable research and research training in high quality and supportive environments.
The T1DCRN Career Development Award aims to foster the development of the best and brightest independent researchers who show outstanding potential to lead and influence type 1 diabetes clinical research. Applications for both schemes close 28 September.

Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation grants
The 2015 Dementia Grants Program – Round 2 will open today and close on 16 October. There are four half-funded scholarships and one travel grant on offer in this round.

Qld: Advance Queensland fellowships and PhD scholarships
The first round of the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland early and mid-career fellowship and PhD scholarship schemes has opened, with applications due by 16 October and 23 October, respectively.

Qld: Advance Queensland Women’s Academic Fund
The Queensland Government’s new Women’s Academic Fund provides financial assistance to female researchers in Queensland-based universities. Maternity funding is available to help pay for another researcher to progress research while on maternity leave, or to assist with research following maternity leave. Carer funding is available to cover childcare or respite care costs while presenting at a conference or sitting on a committee. The fund is continuously open to applications.

2016 Clunies Ross Awards
This year there are three categories for the Clunies Ross Awards:

  • Clunies Ross Entrepreneur of the Year Award for those who have been responsible for the creation of a product or service with a financially successful outcome, in either an early stage or mature company environment with demonstrated impact for Australia.
  • Clunies Ross Knowledge Commercialisation Award for those who have been responsible for a technology which has been commercialised, most likely by licensing, with a financially successful outcome.
  • Clunies Ross Innovation Award for those who have been responsible for the adoption of a technology, at a stage where the financial outcomes are yet to be realised and/or the benefits are of a measurable broad community nature.

Nominations close 30 October.

7. Upcoming conferences & events

Academy of Science EMCR Forum, Perth, Sydney, Hobart, 7, 9 & 16 September
The Early and Mid-Career Researcher Forum of the Australian Academy of Science invites you to an evening of networking and learning about what the EMCR Forum does and how you can be a part of it. The events will be held in Perth on 7 September, in Sydney on 9 September and in Hobart on 16 September.

2015 Medical Research Innovation Conference, Sydney, 9-10 September
This conference from the National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation (NFMRI) will provide an overview of the current medical research funding system, gaps, challenges and opportunities, and identify strategic opportunities that can assist researchers and funders of medical research to maximise the potential for impact.

Marketing your talents, a veski lunch function, Melbourne, 14 September, free
This two-hour lunchtime function is part of the veski inspiring women professional development and networking series. Hear from specialists in online and off-line media and communications, and personal branding, as well as industry-based peers sharing tips on storytelling and putting your best foot forward.

Webinar: Clinical data disclosure – the 5 P’s, 16 September, 3-4 pm AEST
In this webinar coordinated by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), Iain Hrynaszkiewicz (Head of Data and HSS Publishing at Nature Publishing Group and Palgrave Macmillan) will discuss practical considerations, for researchers, of publishing articles about clinical data, and preparing clinical data for sharing and publication.

NARI Annual Seminar 2015, Melbourne, 25 September
Each year, the National Ageing Research Institute brings together leading experts in ageing for this full-day event aimed at researchers, policy makers, aged care providers and others interested in research and policy in ageing. Early bird registration ($140) closes 11 September.

AusBiotech Invest 2015, Melbourne, 7-9 October
More than 1000 participants are expected to attend AusBiotech Invest 2015, with the conference attracting a strong contingent of delegates from throughout the Asia-Pacfic region, USA and Europe.

The Art and Science of Donor Development workshop, Melbourne, 29 October
This practical workshop about breakthrough performance in major gift fundraising is based on 20 years of research into what motivates top donors to make transformational gifts. Presented by Melbourne consulting firm Philanthropy Squared and experts from US-based Advancement Resources, it will help participants connect donors’ personal passions to organisational goals.