Medical Research Future Fund will help tough career choices

The Director of Western Australia’s adult medical research institute has welcomed the news that the Federal government will continue to support the ‘transformative’ Medical Research Future Fund.

Peter Leedman and Rikki

Professor Peter Leedman with
researcher Rikki Brown 

Professor Peter Leedman, from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, says the MRFF has been buried under recent discussions about Medicare co-payments and he was ‘incredibly pleased’ that the need to safeguard the future of medical research was now openly on the table.

Last year the main source of funding for researchers, project grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council, were at a record low, with a 14.9% success rate.

“It’s a tough career path for our PhD students to tread,” Professor Leedman says. “I have my own students in the Perkins’ Laboratory for Cancer Medicine and I acknowledge that it’s going to be hard for these very talented young scientists to get established.”

Professor Leedman says that while scientists are now able to produce results faster than ever before due to new technology, this also means that research has become more expensive, while funding has stayed the same.

He says there are also fewer grants available for medical researchers because many research projects are now funded for 5 years, rather than the traditional 3 year time frame.

“The pass rate is getting lower and lower,” he says. “However, this is a great day because we know the future fund has support. In Western Australia, it will help us to reverse the brain drain and bring the best and brightest to the Perkins.”

Professor Leedman says the Medicare co-payment was only one component of the MRFF and there are still funds available from the Health and Hospitals fund as well as healthcare savings in the sector.

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