Medical research funding in need of strategy and governing body, group finds

By Jackson Graham

Tuesday November 16, 2021

Coordination of medical research funding in Australia can be complex. (Gorodenkoff/Adobe)

Medical research’s crucial role has never been clearer than in the past two years, but the coordination of funding in Australia can be complex and less distinct, according to a peak body. 

Research Australia is launching a national consultation to address the coordination of funding for researchers, industry and health systems.  

It is testing the idea of a national strategy for health and medical research. 

The push came off the back of findings that, from the recommendations proposed by 20 health and medical reviews in the past 15 years, almost all included recommendations to improve the funding structure of health and medical research. 

But a Research Australia analysis found past recommendations have not only proposed funding increases. Instead, recommendations often asked for health and medical research funding to be “more streamlined and efficient”. 

“Over half of the 20 reviews also recommend establishing a national health and medical research strategy and governing body to help drive these efficiencies and improvements in funding,” the group found. 

Research Australia chief executive officer Nadia Levin says Australia’s history of medical and health research is proud but opportunities are lost due to “a poorly co-ordinated national approach” to research and innovation. 

“COVID has demonstrated unequivocally the value of medical research,” Levin said. 

“But the pandemic has also revealed the need for reform to meet the needs and challenges of an impacted health and medical research sector.”

She said a strategy and national body to better coordinate existing funding programs laid at the heart of the consultation reform proposals.

“With a clearer picture of Australian health and medical research funding, we can begin to understand instances of duplication of research efforts, gaps in the research funding pipeline, and identify areas of national strength and global competitive advantage,” Levin said. 

The online consultation campaign, Health and Medical Research – Australia can do better! calls for a clearer picture of what health and medical research is underway around Australia. 

Research Australia says the findings will help better direct resources in alignment with health priorities and further support the sector.


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