$1.1 billion is available from the Medical Research Future Fund for research projects that boost illness prevention and promote early intervention.

 

Medical Research Future Fund

The Medical Research Future Fund is providing grants of financial assistance to support health and medical research and innovation, with the objective of improving the health and wellbeing of Australians.

 

Background

As part of the 2014-15 Budget, the Australian Government announced the establishment of the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to provide a sustainable source of funding for vital medical research over the medium to longer term. Through the Medical Research Future Fund, the Government will deliver a major additional injection of funds into the health and medical research sector.

The MRFF offers the opportunity to strategically fund research and address national priorities in a cohesive and coordinated way. It complements existing medical research and innovation funding to improve health outcomes by distributing new funding in more diverse ways to support stronger partnerships between researchers, healthcare professionals, governments and the community. MRFF funding will complement the work of the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Commonwealth Science Council and the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, including the Biomedical Translation Fund.

The MRFF is managed by the Future Fund Board of Guardians. The Treasurer and Minister for Finance set the investment mandate for the Medical Research Future Fund that provides broad direction to the Future Fund Board of Guardians in relation to its investment strategy. Net earnings on Medical Research Future Fund capital for a given financial year will be available for drawdown the following financial year, with the capital of the MRFF preserved in perpetuity.

 

Strategy and Priorities

As required by the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015, the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board developed the inaugural Australian Medical Research and Innovation Strategy 2016-2021 and the accompanying Australian Medical Research and Innovation Priorities 2016-2018. These documents were registered with the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments on 9 November 2016 and announced by the Government on the same day.

The Strategy and Priorities have been considered by Government in deciding the first disbursements from the MRFF.

 

Funding

Contributions to the Medical Research Future Fund endowment have been sourced from savings within the Health portfolio that will accumulate until the capital target of $20 billion is reached. Disbursements over the first five years of the Medical Research Future Fund are projected to be $1.4 billion, and when the fund matures it is anticipated that annual disbursements of up to $1 billion per annum.

The first disbursements from the Medical Research Future Fund focus on translating research into real health benefits, breakthrough investments in new technologies and health challenges, and enhancing Australia’s reputation for research excellence and leadership.

From 2016-17, the first disbursements from the Medical Research Future Fund will inject over $65 million into a range of programs that cut across the research pipeline – fuelling new discoveries and the translation and commercialisation of great Australian ideas.

 

Update – 26 March 2019

The Liberal Government will provide over $65 million in competitive research grants to Australia’s best and brightest researchers to unlock the power of personalised medicine through genomics and potentially find cures for cancer, children’s illnesses and diseases with low survival rates.

Genomics means that each patient will have their particular disease individually tested through what is known as genomic sequencing.

This new type of medical treatment works by looking deep into each patient’s cells, analysing their DNA to work out how to target and destroy the cancer or disease.

The result is a tailored treatment based on the individual and it means we can find out what medicine might work for a particular disease and then get it to the patient.

These grants are the first competitive call for applications under our Government’s $500 million Genomics Health Futures Mission, which was announced at last year’s Budget.

This Mission will help save and transform the lives of more than 200,000 Australians through research into better testing, diagnosis and treatment.

Researchers will be able to apply for grants for a range of projects to develop the research evidence for implementing genomics knowledge and technology delivering better targeted treatments and diagnostic methods, avoiding unnecessary health costs and improving patient care and outcomes.

Funding will be available over three years from 2019–20 to 2021–22 for research into:

    • Cancers (including lung cancer and mesothelioma) and diseases with high mortality and low survivability ($15 million);
    • Paediatric acute care genomic research for critically ill children ($15 million); and
    • Ethical, legal and social issues related to genomics in health care ($3.7 million).

Funding will be available over four years from 2019-20 to 2022-23 for flagships for pathogen genomics, including infectious respiratory diseases ($32 million).

The grants will also encourage collaboration and multidisciplinary teams to work together to answer complex genomics research questions.

This funding further demonstrates the Government’s commitment to health and medical research.

The Genomics Health Futures Mission is the centrepiece of the Government’s $1.3 billion National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan and is funded by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

The Mission Steering Committee has delivered an Operational Plan to Government outlining a structure and roadmap for the Genomics Mission.

The Steering Committee will continue to guide the Mission’s work under the leadership of Professor Ian Frazer AC. It will now focus on implementation and will be strengthened with additional expertise in areas such as cancer genomics and pathogenomics.

To support the Expert Advisory Committee, a new genomics scientific sub-committee will be established and led by Professor Kathryn North AC.

The Government will also create a National Health and Medical Research Office to oversee the Genomics and other Missions under the MRFF.

The MRFF, a $20 billion endowment fund, is going from strength to strength – backing our world-class researchers, addressing barriers to sector growth, enhancing academic and industry collaboration and improving access to new and emerging technologies, drugs, devices and treatments for Australians.

It is enabling good science to be turned into life-changing health improvements and commercially feasible products.

Our Government’s strong economic management ensures the continued record investment into vital essential services including medical research, life-saving medicines, Medicare and hospitals.

The Projects Grant opportunity opens 28 March 2019 and the Flagships: Pathogen Genomics Grants opportunity will open on 14 May 2019. The Guidelines are available on the GrantConnect website.
 

Update – 26 February 2019

The Liberal National Government is launching a comprehensive research effort to tackle the nation’s two biggest killers – heart disease and stroke – with an unprecedented $220 million for a 10-year Mission for Cardiovascular Health.

The funding, awarded under the Government’s landmark Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), will support Australian researchers to make game-changing discoveries, develop a global biotech industry and enable the implementation of changes in healthcare.

Cardiovascular disease is the underlying cause of 43,500 deaths in Australia.

One Australian dies of cardiovascular disease every 12 minutes, with one Australian experiencing a heart attack or stroke every five minutes.

In 2017 alone, more than 100,000 Australians experienced a heart attack or stroke and cardiovascular disease was the underlying cause of 43,500 deaths in Australia.

The figures are telling but they don’t convey the tragedy of heart disease and strokes for individuals, their families and loved ones.

The Mission for Cardiovascular Health aim to improve health outcomes through prevention strategies, earlier detection and improved outcomes for patients suffering a heart attack or stroke.

It will aim to reduce hospitalisations, develop clinical trials and new drug therapies, use the unique DNA of a patient to develop new therapies and also look into why people wo don’t lead a unhealthy lifestyle or have a genetic cause suffer heart attacks.

The Mission will be overseen by an appointed expert advisory panel chaired by Professor Gemma Figtree and will have a broad scope.

Open and contestable grant opportunities will stimulate new and emerging research to address heart disease and stroke.

This Mission includes the recently announced $20 million in funding to help defeat congenital heart disease by better understanding genetic causes and treatment options through the the HeartKids Project.

Earlier this month our Government established the HeartKids Project to tackle childhood heart disease, which affects more than 65,000 Australians. In Australia, of the approximately 300,000 births each year, 2,400 to 3,000 babies are born with a form of congenital heart disease.

On the weekend, I was also delighted to announce the creation of a new Medicare item for heart health checks, ensuring Australians at risk of heart disease receive timely and appropriate medical advice.

From April 1 this year a new dedicated Medicare item for heart health checks will support General Practitioners and patients in assessing cardiovascular risk.

Over the weekend our Government also announced $35 million for the development of a vaccine to combat rheumatic heart disease.

The funding provided from the Medical Research Future Fund will allow fast-tracking and funding of clinical trials, and the commercial production of a vaccine for use in Australia and internationally.

Rheumatic heart disease claims the lives of up to 150 mainly young Australians a year, and 500,000 people worldwide.

This 10-year Mission for Cardiovascular Health, the funding to develop a rheumatic heart disease vaccine and the range of Medicare items that cover services and tests where people may have heart disease or are at risk of heart disease will ensure we are tackling heart disease and heart conditions from every front.

Additionally, since 2013 the Coalition Government has provided $662.2 million for research into cardiovascular disease and $7.7 billion to subsidise medicine to treat cardiovascular disease on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

 

Update – 08 November 2018

Antimicrobial resistance, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, and Aged Care are among the second set of Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) priorities for 2018-2020. These priorities will help guide the Morrison Government’s project investments.

The focus areas for research have been set following a thorough national consultation process with over 1,200 community and industry stakeholders.

The priorities take into account the burden of disease experienced by the Australian community and the need to enhance evidence translation in clinical practice.

The 12 new priorities include:

      • Antimicrobial resistance
      • Global health and health security
      • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
      • Ageing and Aged Care
      • Digital Health Intelligence
      • Comparative effectiveness research
    • Primary Care research
    • Clinical researcher capacity
    • Consumer-driven research
    • Drug repurposing
    • Public Health interventions
    • Translational research infrastructure

With over $1.7 billion already invested through the MRFF, the Morrison Government’s on-going investments are supercharging the growth in cutting-edge health and medical research. Leading to new cures and treatments that are improving health outcomes across Australia while fuelling jobs, economic growth and export potential.

Our Government’s strong economic management means we can support medical research that gives Australians access to the next generation of life saving technologies.

The $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund was established as an endowment fund to provide a sustainable source of funding for vital medical research and is the single largest boost in health and medical research funding in Australia’s history.

This support is in addition to our record funding for public hospitals, new medicines and Medicare guarantee.

 

Update – 08 October 2018

The Morrison Government will invest $1 million to improve recovery and rehabilitation and help stroke survivors back to work.

The National Stroke Foundation will receive $1 million over three years through the Medical Research Future Fund for the Return to Life, Return to Work research package.

The project will enable more Australians of working age who have had a stroke to access new innovative and cutting edge treatment options to aid their recovery.

The package will include a clinical trial of Perispinal Etanercept in Australian stroke patients.

Perispinal Etanercept has been used been used in the United States to treat chronic stroke and brain injury in selected patients. This is the first clinical trial of its type in Australia.

The treatment is predicted to reduce inflammation in the brain and therefore stroke’s impact.

There are more than 475,000 stroke survivors living in the community and one third of stroke survivors are under the age of 65.

Stroke kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer, and is a leading cause of disability. More than 56,000 Australians have strokes every year.

This funding builds on the $1.5 million I announced earlier this year to allow the Stroke Foundation and Cochrane Australia to provide health professionals with the latest clinical guidelines and real-time research findings, to give stroke patients the best chance for survival.

Supporting medical research is a key priority of the Coalition Government’s long-term national health plan and provides benefits to all Australians.

The Government will invest $7 billion over six years through the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Medical Research Future Fund and the Biomedical Translation Fund.

 

Update – 16 November 2017

The Turnbull Government is today announcing an additional $70 million for Australian health and medical researchers to help boost their research capability and to find innovative, practical solutions for better health care.

This investment is being made over the next five years from 2017-18 through the Turnbull Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Next Generation Clinical Researchers program.

This program will boost the talent and capacity of Australia’s health and medical research workforce by increasing the scale of existing fellowship schemes offered by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Building researcher capacity is vital to Australia’s continued success as a global health and medical research leader and innovator.

Fellowships encourage leading researchers in the early to middle stages of their careers to remain in the competitive research arena. It’s about supporting the next generation of Australia’s researchers.

Expansion of fellowship schemes was recommended by the independent Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, which advises the Government on the best use of MRFF funds.

The Next Generation Clinical Researcher program increases the funds available to researchers through three NHMRC fellowships schemes.

The program received $8 million from the first tranche of MRFF disbursements. The first group of MRFF fellowships were announced by the Prime Minister and myself in October.

Today, we are also announcing the allocation of $1.79 million to the next group of MRFF fellowships.

Ten MRFF Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) Fellows will use the funds to work on a broad range of health issues, from suicide prevention to chronic kidney disease and to translate theory and laboratory work into improved health care practice and outcomes for patients.

In addition, the successful applicants for the 12 TRIP fellowships funded by the NHMRC are also being announced today. These fellowships are worth a total of $2.15 million.

These TRIP fellowships will increase the number of opportunities for Australia’s talented researchers to continue their important work.

The announcement today of a further $70 million for fellowships into the future will ensure Australia has the research capacity to maintain its global research powerhouse status.

Translation of research into clinical practice is crucial to improve the health outcomes of all Australians and the operation of our health system.

This reinforces the Turnbull Government’s unprecedented commitment to health and medical research.

Update – 26 May 2017

The Turnbull Government will invest $5.9 million from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to help tackle the threat of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses or parasites becoming resistant to standard medical treatments.

Resistance results in standard medical treatments such as antibiotics, antivirals or anti-malarials becoming ineffective, allowing infections to persist and possibly spread.

Infections are becoming increasingly difficult to treat, leaving health care professionals with limited – or in some instances zero – treatment options.

Australia has one of the highest rates of antibiotic use in the world and rates of resistance to some common antibiotics are increasing globally.

Commercial returns on the discovery and development of new antibiotics is relatively low, so it is an area of research that doesn’t attract sufficient private sector investment.

That’s why the Turnbull Government is stepping in to invest in this important area of medical research.

The research will be consistent with the achievement of the objectives of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019, which was developed by the Australian Government in partnership with states and territories, academics, research organisations and industry, and will include a focus on:

    • knowledge gaps in relation to the development and spread of resistance; and
    • the development of new products, including diagnostic technologies and therapies, policies and approaches to prevent, detect and respond to resistance.

The Coalition’s $20 billion MRFF provides a long-term sustainable source of funding for research that aims to improve health outcomes, quality of life and health system sustainability.

This investment in critical antimicrobial resistance research is part of the $65.9 million in MRFF disbursements announced in the Budget.

The Turnbull Government is committed to supporting Australia’s talented researchers to find solutions to challenges that make a difference to patients’ lives.