THE federal government’s decision yesterday to revise the funding mechanism for its proposed Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) has been welcomed by the director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Professor Doug Hilton.
Professor Hilton said the government’s decision had removed a significant barrier to the community and government support that would be required for the proposed $20 billion fund to be realised.
“I encourage federal MPs and senators to reach agreement on the proposed funding model for the Medical Research Future Fund,” Professor Hilton said. “The fund would provide a substantial boost to the efforts of Australian health and medical researchers to reduce the burden of disease on our community.”
Professor Hilton, also president of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) and a member of the MRFF Action Group, said the fund was a critical investment in the future health of Australians. “Without a vibrant medical research sector, Australia runs the risk of missing out on the fruits of medical research: new treatments, diagnostic tools and preventive health strategies,” he said.
“Every day all of us benefit from discoveries made by medical researchers. Discoveries about how diseases occur, and how they can be better prevented, diagnosed and treated.
“The current funding structure for medical research has not been able to support the full potential of our research workforce, and for many years we have been telling governments that stronger investment is required. I congratulate the Australian government on having the courage to take a bold approach to improving how research is funded,” Professor Hilton said.
“There is no doubt that the Medical Research Future Fund will underpin exciting new breakthroughs in the long term, that improve the outlook for Australians living with disease,” Professor Hilton said.
Independent analyses have demonstrated that investment in Australian health and medical research results in long-term economic savings, with a return of at least $2 on every $1 invested in research.
“As the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute approaches its centenary year in 2015, we have reflected on the many advances in health brought about by Australian medical research over the past 100 years. Many of these came from research programs with long-term funding support, enabling creative thinking and experimentation that is not possible for researchers who lack steady funding support.
“Today, too many researchers, especially our brightest young minds, are so occupied by competing for scarce government funds that they cannot devote themselves fully to long term, productive research. The Medical Research Future Fund offers a never-before-seen opportunity to break this cycle and allow our medical researchers to do what they do best, make discoveries that will improve health,” Professor Hilton said.
Source: Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Image: Professor Doug Hilton