Medical research and innovation funding boost applauded by Perkins Director

The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Nedlands hosted an announcement today by WA Premier, Hon. Mark McGowan MLA and Health Minister Hon. Roger Cook MLA who affirmed their commitment to invest in a long-term health and medical research and innovation fund. 

Mark McGowan, Peter Leedman, Barry Marshall, Roger CookThe fund will address a gap in current investment in health and medical research and increase the calibre and capacity of projects undertaken locally.  

Perkins Director, Professor Peter Leedman, said the fund had the potential to safeguard promising research projects that had missed out on other funding sources.

“Medical researchers spend months applying for federal funding, of which about one in six applications are successful, so we welcome this progressive plan to sustain groundbreaking research in Western Australia,” Professor Leedman said. 

The proposed legislation would see annual interest from the $1.3 billion WA Future Fund be repurposed to supercharge future investment in health and medical research and innovation, effectively doubling the current annual expenditure and transforming Western Australia into a leader in medical research and innovation.

In addition to the health benefits, this commitment will also act as a catalyst for State-wide economic and workforce growth. An evaluation in 2017 of 25 NHMRC-funded clinical trials found that if the outcomes from these trials were implemented in the wider population, every $1 awarded in NHMRC grants would result in a return of $51.10.

Byford father-of-two, David Crispin, is familiar with the importance of local clinical trials after taking part in a new drug trial at the Perkins-owned Linear Clinical Research Ltd.

Mr Crispin who was diagnosed with follicular Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2012, has undergone five types of chemotherapy but was not responding positively. 

In October, Mr Crispin was the first person in Australia to receive the new treatment and has subsequently experienced near-complete remission with a PET SCAN showing no sign of disease. 

Linear CEO, Dr Michael Winlo, said the State funding boost would help to ensure that research breakthroughs could reach their life-saving potential in clinical trials. “We want West Australians like David to have access to the latest medicines, and investment in pioneering medical research and clinical trials is the only way to develop these new medicines,” Dr Winlo said. 

Professor Leedman said the new investment would help to bridge the current funding gap which jeopardises the ability of research institute’s to support essential services such as research services, commercialisation and IT, and data management. 

“In 2016 the Association of Australia Medical Research Institutes found that institutes received on average only 42% of the funding needed to cover the full systemic costs of research, so this important funding boost will help to ensure WA does not lose potential innovation and commercialisation opportunities.”

Premier Mark McGowan said the secure source of funding would boost research capability and create jobs and opportunities for Western Australians.

“By establishing the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund, we will build a legacy for future generations - improving the future health and wellbeing of Western Australians and delivering new jobs and opportunities,” Mr McGowan said.

Health Minister Roger Cook emphasised the importance of investment in health research and innovation as essential to drive discoveries. 

“Just one discovery can potentially improve or save millions of lives around the world and can lower the cost of health care. Experience has taught us that supporting research and innovation also leads to better skilled and better informed clinicians and health workers, which translates to better care for patients,” Mr Cook said.

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