Australia's medical research sector advocates for the Medical Research Future Fund

Tuesday, 02 September, 2014

Australia's medical research sector advocates for the Medical Research Future Fund

The newly formed Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Action Group is advocating for what it claims to be the most important initiative in Australian medical research in generations.

The organisations that carry out and support Australia’s world-leading medical research, including AusBiotech, have joined forces to support the federal government’s proposed MRFF. The MRFF Action Group, which comprises members from organisations representing all of Australia’s medical researchers, will promote the groundbreaking benefits the MRFF will bring to Australia’s health and prosperity.

The health benefits of medical research are well understood. Australian medical research has extended lives and reduced suffering in Australia and across the world. Over many decades, Australia has developed a highly skilled health and medical research workforce, establishing a global reputation for discovery and innovation. 

The increase in medical research expenditure that will flow from the MRFF will underpin Australia’s future as a world leader in the health industry. Australian discoveries are too numerous to mention but include the development of penicillin, spray-on skin, the cochlear implant, a cure for peptic ulcers, the Gardasil vaccine for cervical cancer and novel treatments for cancers.

MRFF Action Group Chairman Alastair Lucas said, “While the health benefits of medical research are well understood, the economic impact of world-leading medical research should also be emphasised. Medical research is Australia’s best knowledge industry, employing 23,000 research professionals supporting a medicines industry of over 40,000. Annually, Australia now exports more than $4 billion worth of products developed through medical research, making it Australia’s largest product export industry.

“However, while our research skills excel, the reality is that our medical research spending lags many other western nations. Australia will fall behind if this funding gap is not addressed. The Medical Research Future Fund will bridge this gap.”

Professor Christine Bennett, the chair of Research Australia, said: “The MRFF will more than double Australian medical research expenditure. It will give Australia a perpetual funding body for medical research with the scope and impact of the Wellcome Trust in the UK and the Howard Hughes Institute in the US. The MRFF will make Australia a global centre for lifesaving research for generations.

“We know that most Australians support additional medical research expenditure. There is multi-party support for existing medical research funding and the MRFF guarantees we can build on this solid foundation to ensure we reap the rewards in terms of future health and wealth.”

Professor Bruce Robinson, the chair of the Group of Eight Deans of Medicine Committee, said: “The MRFF will provide a sustainable future for Australian’s talented young medical researchers who underpin Australia’s superb medical research skills. The MRFF will help drive the efficiency, effectiveness and long-term sustainability of our health system. We hope to explain to Australians that the MRFF will be profoundly beneficial for generations of Australians.”

Professor Brendan Crabb, the president of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes, pointed to the benefits the MRFF will bring to Australia’s capacity to deal with new and emerging diseases.

“It is an unfortunate reality that we do not know where another health threat to Australia might emerge from,” Professor Crabb said. “The MRFF will provide a real boost to Australia’s capacity to address new health problems, as well as the particular health issues faced by Australia’s indigenous communities.”

The MRFF will propel many further groundbreaking discoveries. The benefits the MRFF will bring cannot be measured now, but the MRFF Action Group argues that its benefits will profoundly advantage our nation.    

On behalf of

The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes
The Australian Society for Medical Research
Group of Eight Universities Australia
Go8 Deans of Medicine Committee
Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand
Research Australia

Members of the MRFF Action Group include:

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