The peak body for Australia's medical research institutes.
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August 2014

In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – MRFF Action Group formed, AAMRI President in The Australian, and AAMRI submission on ACNC replacement arrangements
  2. Government update – MRFF legislation to be introduced to Parliament
  3. NHMRC & ARC updates – Warwick Anderson leaving NHMRC, NHMRC consultations, ARC medical research policy update, and more
  4. Sector news – Intern program for Victorian women in science, new EMBL Australia node, and more
  5. Reports & resources 
  6. Funding & award opportunities
  7. Upcoming conferences & events

1. AAMRI news

MRFF Action Group formed
AAMRI has joined forces with other peak bodies representing Australia’s health and medical research sector to form the MRFF Action Group.
The MRFF Action Group will promote the groundbreaking benefits the Medical Research Future Fund will bring to Australia’s health and prosperity. The increase in medical research investment that will flow from the MRFF will underpin Australia’s future as a world leader in medical research.
AAMRI, as part of the MRFF Action Group, is advocating for the full realisation of the sovereign fund to the $20 billion proposed in the 2014-15 Federal Budget, which will then deliver $1 billion annually in health and medical research funding in perpetuity from 2022.

AAMRI President in The Australian supporting the MRFF
AAMRI President Prof Brendan Crabb and Baker IDI Director Prof Garry Jennings (a past AAMRI President) wrote an opinion piece in The Australian earlier this month supporting the Medical Research Future Fund, and the health and medical research sector more generally.

AAMRI submission on ACNC replacement arrangements
The Federal Government has released an options paper on proposed charity reporting and regulation arrangements following the abolition of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). Legislation to abolish the ACNC has already passed Parliament and is likely to come into effect in late 2014 or early 2015. Medical research institutes are charities, and so are affected by these changes.
The government is proposing to revert charity reporting and regulations to arrangements prior to the establishment of the ACNC, but with the additional requirement that charities self-report the following information on their websites:
⦁    names of responsible persons
⦁    details of funding received from governments
⦁    financial report.
AAMRI’s submission to the consultation was highly supportive of the proposed arrangements overall, but questioned the requirement that charities report funding received from governments on their websites.

2.  Government update            

Federal: MRFF update
The Medical Research Future Fund is back on the front page and will no doubt continue to make headlines in the lead up to its debate in Federal Parliament.
The MRFF is slated to be introduced during the current Spring session of Parliament, with the last sitting day on 4 December. Keep an eye on AAMRI’s website, follow us on Twitter (link) and, keep reading our monthly AAMRI eNews to ensure you are in the loop on all things MRFF.
In the meantime, AAMRI has created a handy two-pager for reference on the MRFF, and we continue to be in regular contact with MPs and Senators on all sides of politics in our bid to see this important fund become a reality.


Warwick Anderson leaving NHMRC to lead the Human Frontier Science Program
Professor Warwick Anderson has announced that he is resigning as CEO of the NHMRC with effect from the end of March 2015, before commencing an appointment as Secretary-General of the Human Frontier Science Program, beginning mid 2015.

Boosting dementia research initial delivery announced
The NHMRC has announced the first steps in its delivery of the Australian Government’s $200 million ‘Boosting Dementia Research’ budget measure.
It includes the announcement of a new Dementia Research Team Grants scheme to support research into the causes of dementia, improved methods of prevention, new treatment options and improved patient care.
The scheme is modelled on the NHMRC’s Centres of Research Excellence and is expected to fund five teams for up to $6.5 million each over five years. The grants are worth a total of $32.5 million and are just one part of the $200 million package.

Consultation: Draft statement on consumer involvement in health & medical research
The NHMRC/CHF Draft Statement on Consumer Involvement in Health and Medical Research has been released for public comment. The draft Statement is a revision of the current Statement on Consumer and Community Participation in Health and Medical Research, which supports consumer and community participation across all types and levels of health and medical research. The closing date for submissions is 19 September 2014.

Read Questions and Answers on NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres
The NHMRC has published Questions and Answers regarding its call for submissions for NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres. Submissions due 30 September 2014.

NHMRC funding announced by Health Minister Peter Dutton
Funding of $54.6 million will flow to 74 NHMRC Research Fellowships with a further $8 million for 17 Practitioner Fellowships. Four grants totalling $4.5 million are also part of the one-off Mental Health Targeted Call for Research into Indigenous youth suicide.

Updated ARC Medical Research Policy
Effective 25 August 2014, the ARC has updated its Medical Research Policy. The ARC Medical Research Policy version 2014.3 applies to ARC funding schemes as indicated in the relevant funding rules.

New ARC centre to explore the brain; new centre pushing frontiers of bio-nano research
The ARC is opening a new collaborative research centre at Monash University dedicated to understanding how the brain works. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function was awarded $20 million over seven years from the Federal Government through the ARC's Centres of Excellence scheme.
Also at Monash University, the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology was officially opened on 20 August. The centre will be the focus of bio-nano research activity in Australia.

4.  Sector news

Australian to head Oxford’s The George Institute
Professor Terry Dwyer will head The George Institute for Global Health, United Kingdom, where he will expand The George’s research with a new medical research effort centred on a childhood cancer study involving one million mothers and babies. Prof Dwyer was previously at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. The George Institute for Global Health, UK, is affiliated with Oxford University.

New Director of John Curtin School of Medical Research
Professor Simon Foote has been appointed to lead Australian National University's John Curtin School of Medical Research. Professor Foote, who is currently Dean of Macquarie University's Australian School of Advanced Medicine and is a past Director of the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, will start as the new director of the JCSMR in October when he takes over from Professor Chris Parish, who has been in the role since early last year.

Intern program launched to inspire women in science (Vic)
The new inspiring women industry internships – supported by veski and the Victorian Office of the Lead Scientist — aim to support, advance and inform Victorian women through partnerships with government, industry and academia. Female honours and masters students, and their university supervisors, come from STEM disciplines to partner with industry through short-term (4 month) focused research internships.

New EMBL Australia node at UNSW
UNSW’s Lowy Cancer Research Centre will be the new home of an EMBL Australia node. The new node, the UNSW Centre in Single Molecule Science, will focus on transforming medicine by providing a molecular perspective on complex biological systems and processes, encompassing biophysics, biochemistry and cell biology as well as nanotechnology and nanofabrication.

Successful bid for purpose-built storage of medical research data
Intersect, VicNode and QCIF (state nodes of the national capacity in eResearch infrastructure funded under the Federal Government's NCRIS/Super Science initiative) coordinated a bid in April 2014 for a national facility for storing and managing medical research data. The bid was in response to a call for proposals by the federally-funded Research Data Storage Infrastructure Program. The bid was successful in receiving $1.8 million in funding.

5.  Reports and resources

Patent pendency and inventories down, according to new research
An IP Australia report shows that while the inventory of patents doubled between 2000 and 2009, it has fallen steadily since a peak in 2009. The time to grant a patent, patent pendency, gradually increased over the last decade, but has been reduced by an average six months since 2010.

AIHW report: Mortality from asthma and COPD in Australia
Asthma death rates in Australia are high compared with many other countries and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of deaths in Australia and internationally. This report provides current information about mortality due to these conditions in Australia, examining trends over time, seasonal variation, international comparison and variation by age, sex, remoteness, Indigenous status, country of birth and socioeconomic disadvantage.

Baker IDI Pespectives on medical research funding
AAMRI member Baker IDI has published its most recent edition of Perspectives as part of its thought leadership program. This edition will be of particular interest to many members due to its focus on medical research funding, including the MRFF.

6.  Funding & award opportunities

Academy announces two new awards for public health and biomedicine
The Australian Academy of Science has recently announced two new national awards named after pre-eminent Australian scientists, Professors Gus Nossal and Jacques Miller. The Gustav Nossal Medal for Global Health and Jacques Miller Medal for Experimental Biomedicine will be awarded to Australian early- and mid-career researchers. The awards are open to researchers up to 15 years post PhD. Nominations for both awards close 24 September 2014.

Australia-Harvard Fellowships for researchers & educators in biosciences & medicine
Australia-Harvard Fellowships are aimed at innovators who are normally based at Harvard and have a persuasive plan to collaborate with Australia’s best bioscience researchers and educators. The award also supports Australian researchers who wish to follow-up joint initiatives at Harvard. Applications close September 29 2014.

Request for Applications from Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Australia
JDRF Australia has published a Request for Applications to be administered through the Australian Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network. Funding for this program is provided through the ARC’s Special Research Initiative for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. All queries regarding the Request for Applications should be directed to JDRF. Application deadline is 24 October 2014.

Opportunity for Australian & NZ health innovators to turn their ideas into reality
GSK is calling for Australian and New Zealand researchers to submit consumer healthcare ideas to their Consumer Healthcare Open Innovation website. If successful, entrants receive the support to commercialise their idea. The program supports scientists, innovators, researchers and start-up technology companies to commercialise their health-related ideas. The focus is in the areas of nutrition, wellness, oral health or skin health.

7. Upcoming conferences & events

Research Administrators’ Seminar in association with ARMS, Canberra, 3 and 4 December 2014
Registration for the 2014 ARC/NHMRC Research Administrators' Seminar is now open. The draft agenda for Day 1 is available on the ARC website while the draft agenda for Day 2 will be made available shortly. Registrations will close 30 September 2014.

Translational Research Excellence 2014 - TRX14, Brisbane, 24 October 2014
The theme for TRX14 is "Value Found in Translation" and the event will be held at the Translational Research Institute (TRI). TRX14 will aim to enhance trans-disciplinary collaborations across human disease research, drug and diagnostic discovery and development, IT and bioinformatics.

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