'Transformational' event in the history of Australian medical research

The Director of WA’s premier adult medical research institute has praised the vision of the Australian government in passing legislation for the Medical Research Future Fund in the Senate.

Professor Peter Leedman from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research said that the MRFF would deliver more than $400 million in disbursements to researchers over the next four years, building to $1 billion per year within the decade. Effectively the MRFF would lead to a doubling of investment by the federal government into health and medical research in the next 10 years.

“This is a transformational and landmark event in the history of medical research in Australia,” he said.

“It is essential that we have adequate support for our dedicated researchers to take their work well beyond just the next grant cycle.”

“It is accepted internationally that a major foundation for an excellent, high quality healthcare system is a robust and sustainable medical research industry. Vibrant health and medical research cultures within hospitals and primary care lead to great medicine, with the best outcomes. With the establishment of the Medical Research Future Fund, we have an extraordinary opportunity to foster this across the entire sector,” he said.

Professor Leedman said that it was a very stimulating time for medical research as new technologies, such as genomics, were revolutionising how researchers made discoveries and advanced these findings at a more rapid rate than ever before.

“The next few years will be an exciting time for Australian science as we, including the Perkins, embrace the technology and apply it to more rapidly develop new ways to better diagnose and treat human disease – we will work towards introducing “precision medicine”.

Professor Leedman said that survival rates for many cancers had improved as a direct consequence of medical research; for example, the cervical cancer vaccine and advances in the treatment of breast cancer and melanoma. But for some cancers, such as liver, pancreatic and some types of breast cancer, the prognosis remained poor, and it is these tumours that the Perkins was very interested in.

“We hope that the MRFF will also help Australian researchers make major advances in cardiovascular disease and diabetes, including heart attacks, stroke and blood vessel diseases, which remain the main cause of death in Australia for both men and women.”

Professor Leedman said it was a wonderful outcome for all Australians, especially those involved in the medical research and medical sectors and our scientists and clinicians of tomorrow who would have new and exciting future research opportunities to pursue as a consequence of the MRFF investment. 

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