AAMRI eNews June 2014

AAMRI eNews June 2014

1st July, 2014


In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – new AAMRI Communications Officer, MRFF update, AAMRI President travels with PM to USA and Canada, and more
  2. Government update – ACNC Repeal Bill, changes to Senate, funding announcements, and more
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – NHMRC consultations, ARC Linkage Projects Funding Outcomes
  4. Sector news – formation of MIMR-PHI Institute, ECR grant writing workshop, and more
  5. Reports & resources
  6. Funding & award opportunities
  7. Upcoming conferences & events

1. AAMRI news

New look for AAMRI
As you may have noticed from our Twitter page, we have launched our new AAMRI brand, and along with it our new website.
Our website has a new member database that allows visitors to search MRIs via research categories and state/territory, and our website also includes our Twitter feed.
We’d love to hear any feedback you may have.

AAMRI’s new Communications Officer
Rebecca Thorpe has joined AAMRI as our new full-time Communications Officer, with our former Communications Manager Lisa Kuspira soon to start at St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research.
Rebecca has spent the past seven years working in communications within the Victorian Government and also worked as a journalist with News Ltd for five years prior to this. She can be reached via email on rebecca.thorpe@aamri.org.au or on 0401 419 590.

Update on the Medical Research Future Fund
Supporting the passage of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) through the Senate has been taking up much of the time of both AAMRI President Brendan Crabb and President-elect Doug Hilton.
Brendan and Doug have been meeting with representatives from all sides of politics in Canberra in a bid to ensure the remarkable opportunities the $20 billion MRFF presents to the health and medical research sector are not lost.
Doug also made an appearance on Lateline earlier this month to discuss the MRFF, while McKeon Review chair and CSIRO Chairman Simon McKeon spoke at the National Press Club on the same topic.

USA and Canada business delegation with the Prime Minister
AAMRI President Brendan Crabb joined Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb on their recent tour of the USA and Canada.
Brendan was part of a delegation of business leaders who visited Toronto, New York and Houston. The Garvan Institute’s Professor John Mattick and Peter Mac’s Dale Fisher were also on the tour. Read more about the trip in another of our new website features, the President’s blog.

AAMRI 2014 National Convention
AAMRI’s National Convention will once again be held in Canberra, this year on 27 and 28 October.
We encourage each AAMRI member organisation to have their Director and a senior executive attend the convention and Annual Dinner, and a representative of their Board to attend the Board Members’ Pre-Dinner Drinks and Annual Dinner.
More information, including registration details and the convention program, is available on the AAMRI website.

CSL Young Florey Medal
A highlight of the AAMRI Annual Dinner will be the presentation of the inaugural CSL Young Florey Medal. The medal will be awarded to an Australian biomedical researcher of no more than 45 years of age for significant career achievements in biomedical science and/or human health advancement for research conducted primarily in Australia.
In addition to the silver medal, the award carries a prize of $25,000 due to the generous support of CSL. Nominations close on 7 July 2014.

AAMRI submission on the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme
In the 2014-15 Federal Budget, the Government established the $484.2 million Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme (EIP), replacing Commercialisation Australia, Enterprise Connect, the Innovation Investment Fund and several other discontinued industry and commercialisation programs.

In a discussion paper on the EIP released on 6 June, the Government proposed three streams — Business Management, Research Connections and Commercialising Ideas — including the following grants:

  • up to $20,000 (matched 1:1) to engage external expertise to implement projects recommended in a business evaluation
  • up to $50,000 (matched 1:1) over 3-12 months to bring short-term research capabilities into businesses
  • up to $250,000 (matched 1:1) over a period of up to 2 years to assist early-stage commercialisation activities.

You can read AAMRI’s submission, or a summary of the submission, on our website.

2.  Government update 

Federal: Changes to Senate and Shadow Ministry
The outcome of last year’s federal election will see a significant change in the Senate’s composition from 1 July 2014.
The incoming and retiring Senators will also result in changes to the Shadow Ministry.
Of particular relevance, the new Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health will be Mr Nick Champion, replacing Senator Amanda Rishworth, who will be promoted to Shadow Assistant Minister for Education and Shadow Assistant Minister for Higher Education.
New Secretary for Department of Health, Jane Halton appointed to Finance
Ms Jane Halton PSM, Secretary of the Department of Health since 2002, has been appointed the new Secretary of the Department of Finance, replacing Mr David Tune PSM. The new Secretary of the Department of Health will be announced soon.

Senate Repeal Bill inquiry – Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission
The Senate Economics Legislation Committee has concluded its inquiry into the ACNC (Repeal) (No. 1) Bill 2014 with a report recommending the legislation be passed (i.e. for the ACNC to be abolished), with dissenting reports from the Labor Party and the Greens submitted.

AAMRI and several individual medical research institutes made submissions to the inquiry, and representatives of AAMRI and Neuroscience Research Australia also provided evidence at the Senate inquiry’s public hearing in Canberra.

While more than 80 per cent of submissions opposed the repeal of the ACNC Act, AAMRI and several individual medical research institutes, along with Universities Australia, supported the repeal of the Act.

We will keep you updated on progress of the Repeal Bill. Should the Bill be passed, the repeal of the ACNC Act will not take place until the passage of other legislation for a body to replace the ACNC. Therefore, medical research institutes are still obliged to meet ACNC reporting and governance requirements at this stage.

Launch of Transition and Wellbeing Research Program
The Federal Government has announced a $5 million Transition and Wellbeing Research Program to fund research into the mental health and wellbeing of contemporary service personnel and veterans. The program will fund three major studies to be conducted by the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of Adelaide and the Australian Institute of Family Studies

NSW: $19.3 million funding boost for translational cancer research
NSW Health and Medical Research Minister the Hon Jillian Skinner MP announced $19.3 million in funding over five years for three new cancer research centres that will translate cancer research into patient care. The three new research hubs will join four already operating in NSW through the Cancer Institute NSW Translational Cancer Research Program.

The three new Translational Cancer Research Centres are:

  • Hunter Cancer Research Alliance ($6.5 million): a collaboration between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Local Health District and Hunter Medical Research Institute.
  • Centre for Oncology Education and Research Translation ($6.5 million): a collaboration between South Western Sydney Local Health District, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and ACT Health.
  • Northern Translational Cancer Research Centre ($6.3 million): researchers from the Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Royal North Shore Hospital, Mater Hospital, Macquarie University and Sydney University.

VIC: $6 million for health innovation
Victorian Technology Minister the Hon Gordon Rich-Phillips MLC announced funding of up to $6 million for four innovative health projects under the Health Market Validation Program (Health MVP). (hyperlink to media release)
The Health MVP is a $15 million Victorian Government program to promote demand-driven innovation in Victoria’s healthcare system. The program offers grants of up to $100,000 for feasibility studies and up to $1.5 million for selected projects to undertake a validation stage to demonstrate new technology solutions in clinical environments.

QLD: Research facility to be built on Thursday Island
Queenslanders will benefit from a world-class research facility based on Thursday Island that will revitalise frontline services by reducing the costs of treating people suffering from diseases such as Dengue, hook worm, bacterial sepsis, malaria and tuberculosis.
Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the facility would be one of the sites for the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, with a $14.3 million commitment towards establishing the institute this year.

WA: New Chief Scientist appointed
Professor Peter Klinken has been appointed Western Australia’s new Chief Scientist. Professor Klinken was previously the Director of Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

State Budgets
Queensland, NSW and SA all announced their budgets during June. We have published a summary on our website highlighting items of health and medical research sector interest.

Of special note is $500million to the Queensland Entrepreneurial and Innovation Fund, “to reinvigorate research and innovation across Queensland”.


NHMRC consultations on a new human research ethics application form
The NHMRC is developing a human research ethics application form to replace the existing National Ethics Application Form (NEAF).
Consultation meetings taking place across Australia in July are aimed at HREC members, researchers, institutional ethics and governance officers, universities, Medical Research Institutes, public and private health organisations and jurisdictional staff who oversee and coordinate the submission of research applications. You can RSVP here.

NHMRC consultations on streamlining clinical trials in Australia
HealthConsult Pty Ltd, on behalf of the NHMRC, is conducting consultations in each state and territory during July on streamlining clinical trials.
There are two consultations: one around developing a revised list of standard items for clinical trials; the other to ascertain views of stakeholders who conduct or are otherwise involved in the conduct or governance of clinical trials regarding the feasibility of implementing a redesigned process for site assessment and site authorisation of clinical trials.
If you are interested in taking part, please complete an expression of interest form ASAP.

ARC Linkage Projects Funding Outcomes
Minister for Education, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, has announced the Funding Outcomes for ARC Linkage Projects for funding commencing in 2014.
The selection report outlines the selection process, outcome statistics and funding outcomes.

4.  Sector news

MIMR and PHI have merged to form MIMR-PHI
After a combined 75 years of discovery and innovation, Monash Institute of Medical Research and Prince Henry’s Institute have joined forces as MIMR-PHI Institute of Medical Research. Changing the landscape of Victorian medical research, the merger positions the institute as one of the state’s top five independent medical research institutes, and the largest in Melbourne’s southeast region.

Want to be a grant writing star?
The RIAus Early Career Researcher (ECR) Network will run a grant writing workshop with Tanya Monro (Director of IPAS, University of Adelaide) on Thursday 24 July. This workshop is one of the most requested events of the year so if you are a researcher or know one, book early so you don’t miss out. If you can’t get along to the event in Adelaide you can watch online on a livestream and take part on Twitter using #ECRchat.

Australian firms invited to participate in major innovation showcase in India
Leading Australian research institutions, technology firms and universities seeking investment or partnership opportunities in India are invited by Austrade to participate in the second Australian Innovation Showcase there from 15 September to 15 October 2014.
The 2014 Australian Innovation Showcase is a month-long program of events in major Indian cities to promote Australia’s world-class research capabilities, technologies and services, and help develop new trade and investment opportunities.

5.  Reports and resources

Australia’s Health 2014
Australia’s Health 2014 is the 14th biennial health report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and finds we are not only living longer, but living many more years free of disability.
This edition combines analytical feature articles on topical health issues with other statistical snapshots including: The Australian health system; Leading types of ill health; Health behaviours and risks; Indigenous health; Preventing and treating ill health; Indicators of Australia’s health.
An excellent summary of the report was appeared in The Conversation.

Kidney transplant demand expected to rise in next decade
The number of people receiving kidney replacement therapy for end-stage kidney disease is expected to rise by at least 45% from 19,800 cases in 2011 to 28,800 cases in 2020, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

AIHW Report: Coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Indigenous Australians
The pattern of coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Indigenous Australians differs to that in non-Indigenous Australians.
This paper shows that Indigenous Australians have higher hospitalisation and death rates for these conditions than non-Indigenous Australians, and are more likely to die from these conditions at younger ages.
However, there are some encouraging trends seen in the Indigenous population, such as declining death rates from coronary heart disease, improved chronic disease management and declining smoking rates.

AusBiotech Industry Position Survey
AusBiotech released its Industry Position Survey this month. It found that 2013 was a good year for biotech in Australia, following the United States’ positive lead.

Children’s headline indicators
The Headline Indicators for children’s health, development and wellbeing are a set of 19 indicators endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference, Community and Disability Services Ministers’ Conference and the Australian Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs Senior Officials Committee. The indicators are designed to focus policy attention on identified priority areas for children aged 0–12, with a focus on different groups of children (for example, Indigenous children, children living in remote areas).

Healthcare in Australia 2012-13: Five years of performance
COAG Reform Council’s final report on the National Healthcare Agreement shows that Australians have overall good health and enjoy a high quality healthcare system. However, areas of concern such as obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes could put strain on our healthcare system and require attention from governments.

National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospital Services: Performance report for 2013
COAG Reform Council’s second report on this National Partnership Agreement shows that despite some improvements in performance, most states have failed to meet agreed targets for elective surgery and hospital emergency departments.

6.  Funding & award opportunities

Time to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship
Applications are now open for a range of Fulbright Scholarships for everyone from post-graduate students through to professors to undertake research for 3-10 months in the US. Applications close on 1 August, and the scholarships must commence after July 2015.

The Australian Innovation Challenge Awards
Entries are open for the $65,000 Australian Innovation Challenge Awards, honouring excellence in many areas, including health.
The awards are open to individuals and teams, and you can enter more than one project. International collaborative projects are eligible as long as the work was driven from Australia. The awards recognise innovation purely for the public good as well as breakthroughs with a direct commercial focus. Entries close on 14 July 2014.

Young Scientist Study Award 2014
If you are 30 or younger and work in the fields of life, materials, chemical or environmental sciences, you can enter the competition run by ATA Scientific to win a $1,000 award, with two runner-up awards of $500 each.
You need to send your 400 words or less in answer to the question below for your chance to win.
“In the recent federal government budget many prominent scientific projects, initiatives, agencies and research organisations, such as the CSIRO, have not fared well. Several changes are also in store for tertiary students including the announcement to deregulate university tuition fees and changes to student loan repayments (HELP).What impact do you think these changes will have on our level of innovation and our ability to create the jobs in the future?”
The competition closes on 31 July 2014.

Dr John Dixon Hughes OAM Medal for Medical Research Innovation nominations open
The National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation (NFMRI) is pleased to offer the Dr John Dixon Hughes OAM Medal for Medical Research Innovation every two years to a researcher under the age of 45 for outstanding contribution towards the development and advancement of a biomedical innovation related to the nature, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and incidence of disease and other health problems that have a significant impact on the health of humans.
The medal will be awarded with a prize of $50,000. The prize will be in the form of a grant to support the research activities of the recipient.
The medal will be awarded to the researcher judged to be responsible for the best biomedical innovation and development paper published, patent taken out, or commercial-in-confidence report in the previous two calendar years. Innovations will include Australian research and discoveries into new medicines, vaccines, biologicals, devices, tools or diagnostics. Nominations close on 29 August.

$3 million for bold cancer researchers with big ideas
Victorian researchers with bold ideas should apply for Cancer Council Victoria’s Venture Grants Scheme (Round 2). The Venture Grants Scheme was designed to support researchers with courageous ideas that would not usually be funded by conventional research grant schemes. Applications close 5pm Friday 4 July.

QLD Government Accelerate Ideas Program: applications now open
Queensland researchers and industry are encouraged to work together on turning good ideas into commercial reality through the new $1.5 million Accelerate Ideas grant program. Grants of between $25,000 and $50,000 are available to firms and researchers who are at the point of demonstrating the commercial viability of their innovations. Grant recipients will also need to come up with a financial co-contribution.
Applications for Accelerate Ideas will be assessed on a quarterly basis with the first deadline on 31 August 2014.
Molecules to Medicine Program in Victoria
Molecules to Medicine is an innovative on-the-job training and mentoring initiative for early career researchers in translation and commercialisation of biomedical advances. The program is open to postdoctoral early career researchers (up to about five years post PhD) employed at participating institutions. All Victorian biomedical research organisations, whether commercial or not, can apply.
Research Australia Awards: Nomination period extended to 15 July
Do you know someone who:
– is making an impact early in their research career?
– constantly advocates for health and medical research?
– is making breakthroughs in the field of health services research?
– is a philanthropic hero?
– has been an exceptional leader and pioneer for many years?
Then vote for them today. Full details and nomination forms here.

Travel to Germany for the EMBL PhD symposium
The 16th EMBL PhD Symposium, ‘Inspired by Biology – Exploring Nature’s toolbox’, will explore the diverse ways in which biological knowledge can be applied to solve problems of public, academic and industrial interest. If you’d like to head to Europe to attend the symposium, EMBL Australia can help you get there. Applications are now open for travel grants to attend the symposium in Heidelberg, Germany from 23 to 25 October 2014.

7. Upcoming conferences & events

AIDS 2014, Melbourne, 20-25 July
US President Bill Clinton and musician and campaigner Sir Bob Geldof will be prominent speakers at AIDS2014 in Melbourne next month.

Cancer forum, QIMR Berghofer, 15 July, 6-8 pm
Hear about the latest discoveries in the cancer field from QIMR Berghofer’s leading cancer research experts.

Diabetic Eye Disease information forum, CERA, 17 July, 11 am-12 pm
The Centre for Eye Research Australia will host a free community forum on diabetic retinopathy at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

Tech Transfer Summit, Adelaide, 2-3 Sept
This year’s program features presentations from industry experts in commercialisation and collaboration, technology transfer, biotechnology, device technology, licensing, and other key areas. Early bird registrations close 4 July.

2014 Research Australia Philanthropy Conference, Melbourne, 18-19 Aug
The 2014 Research Australia Philanthropy Conference brings together groups committed to raising the profile of health and medical research in the philanthropic sector including fund givers, fund seekers, government, foundations, consumers and corporates.