$673.3 Million for Biggest Ever Investment in Health and Medical Research

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Summary media release information

17 October 2011
Ministerial Media Release
Contact for further information: 
Virginia Kim, 0407 415 484

The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, today announced the single largest investment in grants for health and medical research in Australian history.

The Gillard Labor Government is providing $673.7 million for 1,140 grants to support researchers, research projects and research institutions Australia-wide.

This investment, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, will ensure that Australia continues to expand the frontiers of health and medical research.

“These grants support our research community to continue to make cutting edge discoveries that improve the diagnosis, treatment and cure of illnesses that touch all Australians,” Mr Butler said.

“Health and medical research is an area where Australia shines.  We are renowned internationally for our outstanding contribution to health, including the development of a rotavirus vaccine to protect children against this gastro killer, the first humid cribs for premature babies and more recently, the cervical cancer vaccine.

“The grants announced today will ensure that young researchers have a solid foundation for their future career, experienced researchers can continue to run innovative research projects and clinicians can integrate their clinical skills into research practice.

“Australia’s up and coming scientists will have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the outstanding researchers who have gone before them.

“The Gillard Labor Government is committed to supporting Australia’s role as the clever country, a prosperous country that contributes to tackling the health challenges of our time, both at home and internationally.

“That’s why the Government continues to fund health and medical research at record levels.”

Researchers speaking at Adelaide University today provided an overview of their work, and the contribution it makes to the Australian community.

  • Professor John De Wit of the University of NSW will receive $419,897 to determine when and why people who are HIV positive start antiretroviral treatment (ART).  The study will examine the potential public health impact of promoting ART use on the HIV epidemic, contributing to the better use of treatments and HIV prevention.
  • Dr Leila Cuttle of the University of Queensland will receive $294,892 to continue her work in improving burn wound healing in children.  Burns are a huge physical and psychological burden for children and their families. Dr Cuttle’s work will look at burns prevention, the development of more effective first aid treatment and new treatments to improve healing.
  • Professor Maria Makrides and her team at the University of Adelaide will receive $429,231 to investigate the effect of omega-2 dietary supplements, like fish oil, in pregnancy to determine whether they reduce asthma and allergies in school age children.  This research has the potential to reduce the number of children affected by chronic and potentially fatal asthma.  

Top 5 Research Facts

  • Victoria will receive the highest amount of funding, with $278.2 million for 472 grants.
  • University of Sydney was the research institution receiving the greatest amount of funding, with $87.8 million for 149 grants.
  • 129 up and coming researchers will be supported by a NHMRC Early Career Fellowship
  • Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Victoria, was the independent medical research institute receiving the greatest amount of funding, with $29.2 million for 39 grants.
  • International collaboration will be strengthened through 9 Australian-European Union Collaborative Research Grants, for a total value of $5.6 million.

Further information on all NHMRC grants announced today can be found at www.nhmrc.gov.au.