medical research draft narrative

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  • Medical Research Narrative

    Advancing Medical ResearchHigh-quality medical research institutes needed to deliver better health outcomes for all Australians

  • Medical Research Narrative

    A strong health and medical research sector is vital for the ongoing health of Australians. Our medical research institutes (MRIs) are working to develop research to diagnose, treat, manage and prevent illnesses that affect individuals in Australia and across the globe.

    However, the sector currently lacks the financial and policy support to deliver the best possible health outcomes.

    By building a policy that provides the support and funding that our researchers need, Australias MRIs will be in the best position to develop new treatments and effectively translate research from laboratories to hospital bedsides.

    A strong, well-supported industry will also be in a better position to attract Australias best and brightest to the areas where they are needed most.

    If we invest in medical research, Australias MRIs have the potential to be world leaders in driving better health outcomes.

    Professionals AustraliaSTREET ADDRESS 163 Eastern Rd, South Melbourne Victoria 3205, Australia

    POSTAL ADDRESS GPO Box 1272, Melbourne Victoria 3001, Australia

    TELEPHONE 1300 273 762



  • Medical Research Narrative

    An open letter

    Future-proofing Australias health and medical research sector starts here.

    But the benefits, never end.

    Dear Medical Research Professional,

    Australias health and medical research sector is among the best performing of its kind in the world. A large part of this strength is due to the performance of medical research institutes (MRIs), which have a strong history of high-impact research. However, the current funding system is holding back our MRIs, underfunding their research and discouraging career development.

    Funding in the health and medical research sector should ultimately aim to provide a robust, well-funded sector, where vital medical research can be produced for the benefit of the wider community. In order for this to be achieved, governments need to invest in medical research, and ensure that the system of funding encourages stronger MRIs.

    The current system of project-based funding leads to a number of unintended consequences for the industry, that impede optimal research outcomes. MRIs face uncertainty surrounding their funding, with grants unable to cover the full costs of medical research. As a result, MRIs need to find additional funds to cover the indirect costs of research and research infrastructure, taking time away from core research activities.

    Short-term grants also have a significant negative impact on workforce development in the sector. Researchers have to contend with an uncertain career path, as their position and funding are often only assured for one to three years at a time. This lack of a secure career path discourages Australias brightest minds from pursuing careers in medical research.

    The failings in Australias current system of funding medical research are complex but able to be solved, and with government now firmly committed to science and technology driven innovation and the establishment of the Medical Research Future Fund, there has never been a better time to fix the system. The time is now to ensure that this new funding is directed to repairing the holes in the current system, to help our MRIs in their vital work.

    Professionals Australia is calling for governments to establish a new, whole-of-sector policy to deliver stronger MRIs. If Australia is to maintain its existing world-class health and medical research sector, action needs to be taken now.

    With that, I extend an invitation to all medical research professionals to be a part of this initiative, and help shape our plan from the ground up to make the voice of your sector stronger to enable you to do your research better.

    Please visit: and register your interest.

    Otherwise, contact ____________________________________________________.

    Thank you,

    Chris Walton, CEO Professionals Australia


  • Medical Research Narrative

    Australias medical research institutes face ongoing pressure from a funding

    system in need of repair. While the Medical Research Future Fund is expected to deliver some support for the sector, it is critical that these funds are directed

    where they are needed most.

    A funding system under pressure

    The consequences

    Medical research institutes (MRIs) are a critical part of the wider health and medical research sector. Research conducted by MRIs is used in the development of medicines, vaccines, preventative devices, medical procedures and treatments.

    Australias MRIs are recognised world leaders in the health and medical research sector. However, the issues present for MRIs are preventing further advancement of medical research in Australia. The root of these issues is the lack of a guiding plan for the sector, and a resulting funding system that prevents optimal outcomes. The current system of project-based funding encourages a short-term focus, leaves MRIs underfunded and discourages Australias brightest talent from pursuing careers in medical research.

    With the development of a more comprehensive and consistent medical research strategy, a better system of fully-funded research and clearer career paths for researchers, the industry would be in a stronger position to tangibly improve the health and well-being of Australians.

    Strategy: no formal strategy to guide funding arrangements; unclear strategy increases uncertainty for the sector and employees; funding levels differ between states; incentives for medical research differ between states; no strategy to ensure research outcomes address national priorities; and commercialisation does not receive adequate support.

    Funding: current framework does not fund the full-costs of research; researchers have to waste time applying for various fragmented grants; funding does not encourage risk taking & innovation lack of funding limits researchers access to vital equipment; many qualified researchers may not gain funding, as over 80% of proposals are rejected; and lack of funding threatens the independence of MRIs.

    Workforce: no workforce development framework exists to encourage the attraction and retention of quality researchers; short-term grants mean no career stability for researchers; lack of stability encourages researchers to seek employment outside the sector; unstable and inadequate funding of indirect costs threatens the security of research support roles; female participation and advancement is hindered by a range of factors; and the grant process does not support those who have taken a career break, instead it favours those with a greater number of recent publications.


  • Medical Research Narrative

    StrategyThe industry currently lacks a national plan or strategy for the future of medical research. As a result, the organisation, coordination, funding and bureaucracy are highly fragmented.

    Australia does not have in place the very senior, whole-of-government, whole-of-industry health and medical research strategy forums that are increasingly a feature of other western jurisdictions. AAMRI, 2020: A Healthy Australia, 2012

    This finding by AAMRI points to the lack of an overall strategy guiding the various aspects of Australias medical research industry. The development of a cohesive strategy for strong MRIs will be vital in ensuring that the nations funding of medical research delivers the outcomes that the community need. This plan needs to be aligned with health priorities and should be supported by efficient frameworks. Any national plan should include strategies regarding issues such as commercialisation, collaboration, translational research, workforce development, innovation and risk taking, and should also propose funding measures to ensure that these strategies are achieved.

    FundingThe current funding framework does not cover the full costs of medical research, and leaves many MRIs underfunded.

    Medical research funding is typically contingent on short-term grants, which only fund project-specific costs. As a result, MRIs currently lack adequate funding for indirect costs including the infrastructure required to undertake research, the equipment needed, the administrative and laboratory staff, and other costs that are not specific to the project such as utilities. While some mechanisms exist at a state and national level to fund indirect expenses, the overall level of funding falls well short of widely accepted standard of $0.60 for every dollar of project funding.

    Fully-funded MRIs are vital in the delivery of a strong health and medical research sector. Full-funding of medical research is an investment that generates economic growth, better health outcomes, and encourages concurrent business and philanthropic investment in the sector.

    WorkforceThe current short-term focus of medical research does not, provide adequate stability and discourages researchers from entering or remaining in the sector.

    The nature of the work carried out by MRIs requires that Australias best and brightest minds be attracted and retained. A level of job security is important in this process. Despite the importance of high-quality research staff, the large majority are faced with significant job and income uncertainty, with their funding and employment tied to short-term project grants.

    The issue of attraction and retention is even more pronounced when considering female participation in MRIs.


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