Medical research survives another budget

Posted: May 16, 2012 by ycox in Health, Melbourne
Tags: , ,

by Yvette Cox

Australian medical researchers  breathed a sigh of relief as the Federal Government maintained the funding to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in last week’s budget.

While many are grateful for the continued funding there are also calls for the government to do more to support researchers in Australia.

The federal government has allocated $760.5 million to the NHMRC’s Medical Research Endowment Account for 2012-13. This is comparable to the $746.1 million allocated in the 2011-12 budget once inflation is taken into account.

These amounts of money may seem quite large, however for every research project that is funded by the NHMRC two more cannot receive funding despite being considered ‘worthy of funding’ by expert panels.

Medical research funding came to the attention of the general public last year when, just before the budget, it was leaked that the government was considering a $400 million cut to the funding of the NHMRC.

Vocal protests ensued led by the ‘Discoveries Need Dollars: Protect Medical Research’ campaign. The campaign gained widespread attention and resulted in the government committing to support medical research. The government also announced the independent McKeon Review into the health and medical research sector.

A year on and Ms Penny Fannin – creator of the Discoveries Need Dollars campaign -was relieved to hear that medical research had survived a tough budget.

Given that the sector is under review, maintaining the funding of the NHMRC is an appropriate response until the recommendations of the review have been made.

Penny Fannin, Discoveries Need Dollars

The Melbourne public consultation of the McKeon Review was held recently. A common theme was the difficulty in obtaining funding and the flow-on effects on job instability. 

This is a concern held by many PhD students who worry about the future of medical research and whether it will be worthwhile pursuing a research career in Australia.

Australian medical research has led to discoveries such as the Gardasil vaccine, penicillin and treatments for childhood leukemia. Australians have also developed medical technologies such as the Cochlear implant, the humidicrib and the heart pacemaker.

  1. Karisa McCauley says:

    Hi Yvette,
    Good story. Would like to hear more about Australia’s contribution, if you had a link you could add to the end of the final paragraph?

    • ycox says:

      Hi Karisa,
      I’ve added a link to a page listing some of Australia’s research successes. The actual contribution that Australia makes to medical research is extensive. Australian researchers are world leaders on a number of stages.

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