MFR 13 - Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research in Australia

Matter for Review

13.  "Opportunities for Australia’s health and medical research activities to assist in combating some of the major barriers to improved health globally, especially in the developing world."


Global Health Dataset - NHMRC

Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases

Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) - supports international and interdisciplinary collaborations in research, focusing on chronic non-communicable diseases.

Particular emphasis is placed on cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), chronic respiratory conditions, type 2 diabetes, and several cancers. Work of the GACD will focus in particular on the needs of Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) and on low income populations in more developed countries.

Current members of the GACD include: the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Medical Research Councils (MRC) of the United Kingdom and South Africa, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS).

In 2011 the NHMR and the Global Alliance for Chronic Disease (GACD) invited investigators to submit proposals to improve effective approaches to the prevention and control of hypertension in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) and in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This request for applications was developed following a GACD symposium in Beijing in October 2010.

A joint peer review of submitted applications was conducted by CIHR and NHMRC in November 2011.

International Cancer Genome Consortium

International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC)  - a confederation of members (mostly key funding agencies in major countries) that have agreed to work in a coordinated and collaborative manner to characterise a minimum of 500 unique cases for 50 different cancer types or subtypes that are of the highest clinical and societal importance across the globe.

The aim is to obtain a comprehensive description of the full range of genetic events associated with these tumour types and make the data available to the entire research community as rapidly as possible, and with minimal restrictions, to accelerate research into the causes, diagnosis and control of cancer.

The ICGC is one of most ambitious biomedical research efforts since the Human Genome Project. The Consortium will help to coordinate current and future large-scale projects to understand the genomic changes involved in cancer. This genomic information will accelerate efforts to develop better ways of diagnosing, treating and preventing many types of cancer. Countries participating in the ICGC include Australia, Canada, China, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States and many European nations.

As of September 2011, there were 39 projects teams in 13 countries that were announced via the ICGC website. The ICGC Data Coordination Centre now has data on 25 of the cancer projects. NHMRC synopsis of information on the ICGC website.

Heads of International (Biomedical) Organisations

Heads of International (Biomedical) Organisations (HIROs) brings together the Chief Executives of the world’s main funding agencies for medical research, including the NHMRC, UK Medical Research Council, US National Institutes of Health, Indian Academy of Medical Science, Wellcome Trust, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and 12 other international health and medical research funding agencies. HIROs play a significant role in the promotion of policy collaboration towards health and medical research issues. Participation in HIROs offers NHMRC important linkages with international research organisations and the opportunity to collaborate on and influence health and medical research issues of global relevance. HIROs meet biannually in June and December.  The most recent meeting of this group was in Canberra in November/December 2011 where leaders discussed tackling health challenges of the future.

Global Health – addressing the health needs of the Asia/Pacific region

NHMRC hosted a workshop on ‘Global Health – addressing the health needs of the Asia/Pacific region’ on Tuesday 25th May, 2010. This scientific and policy workshop was part of the NHMRC’s consultation process, promoting discussion around the health issues facing our region and how best to address them.

Nineteen key researchers with expertise in fields ranging from malaria to mental health issues presented at the Global Health workshop (see Program and Abstracts below). Presentations were followed by a roundtable discussion, where participants were asked to elaborate on issues that are fundamental to bringing about successful health and medical research outcomes in the Asia/Pacific region. The results of this discussion are summarised in the Outcome Summary below.

International collaborative initiative – Grand Challenges for Mental Health

NHMRC Joins $31.8 Million International Partnership to Focus on Health Problems of the Asia Pacific Region

The UK-based Wellcome Trust, in partnership with Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology and Health Research Council of New Zealand, launched a major program, focusing on the health problems of developing countries in South and South East Asia and the Pacific. The A$31.8 million (£12m) scheme concentrated on major health issues of countries in the Asia Pacific region and aimed to promote collaborative research and training in these regions with Australia and New Zealand.

The Wellcome Trust contributed £6 million, matched by the NHMRC and the government of New Zealand, through their Health Research Council.

Media releases announcing the establishment of this partnership and the outcomes:

NHMRC Clinical Practice Guidelines Portal

See also NHMRC Clinical Practice Guidelines Portal.