Building scale, scope and excellence in research and translation

Collaboration between researchers, heath care professionals and the private sector is essential if Australia is to get the most out of its public investment in health and medical research.  Increasingly, collaboration between institutions has become ever more essential to, it we are to maximise resources in pursuit of health benefits from research. We can learn much about how to foster this collaboration in Australia by looking at those who already do it well.

The international powerhouses of research and translation are usually characterised by being substantial in size, with strong interactions between institutions in clusters of excellence, with diverse skills and disciplines available, and with at least one major hospital.

These hospitals usually attract the most difficult and complex patients and deliver them outstanding care. The staff also undertake high quality research to advance knowledge.

Australia already has some excellent precincts and campuses which combine research and clinical care, education and training.

Many of our major tertiary hospitals sites have clinical researchers who hold NHMRC and other competitive grants, who play key roles in clinical care and clinical leadership, and who teach students, enthusing them with the value of research and evidence in health care.

These campuses also usually have academic departments, research centres and usually one or more independent medical research institutes with excellent research facilities.

To build further on these foundations, and to work towards other successful international models, NHMRC today announced a call for partnerships to submit applications to be recognised as an Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre.

Submissions will be reviewed by an international panel who will provide advice to NHMRC on which are the leading centres in Australia, and what is needed to further enhance these centres and others to provide the evidence based leadership in the health system comparable to the world’s best.

We view this as the first step toward ensuring that Australia has centres of scale, scope and excellence in research translation in the health care system.

We are confident that stronger combination of the hospitals, universities and medical research institutes is in Australia’s interest.

As other nations commit to improving research translation in health and medical research, Australia too must take action.

NHMRC’s Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre initiative is designed as the first step towards ensuring accelerated growth in Australian research quality, international competitiveness and value to the taxpayer through translation of research into improving health care for patients. I am confident that these will grow in the future, as their value becomes increasingly apparent to health policy makers and funders.

Professor Warwick Anderson AM
Chief Executive Officer, NHMRC