Major $640 million investment in Australia’s world-leading medical research

The Turnbull Government will invest $640 million to support Australia’s world-leading health and medical researchers as they continue their work in the laboratory, clinic and the community to find the next major medical breakthrough. Cancer research continues to be a major priority for the Turnbull Government with $109 million allocated to projects for research into better cancer detection, treatments, care and cures.

I am delighted to announce the funding today at the Australian National University (ANU) where researcher Professor Emily Banks will lead a project to examine the health and wellbeing issues facing long-term cancer survivors. Medical research investment is driving an increase in cancer survival rates. It is estimated that more than one million Australians are living with cancer or have survived a cancer diagnosis. A grant of $1.16 million will be provided to Professor Banks and colleagues to use data from 70,000 cancer survivors and 190,000 people without cancer to generate new knowledge to improve policy, clinical practice and health outcomes. Also at ANU, Dr Leonie Quinn and colleagues will use their $940,000 grant to investigate new drug therapies for brain tumours. Dr Quinn will focus on glioma, the most common type of malignant brain tumour. Her innovative research project aims to find new ways to diagnose and treat this disease.

Across Australia, 732 projects will receive funding to support research in National Health Priority Areas including (but not limited to):

  • Cancer – $ 109,372,127
  • Cardiovascular Disease – $ 96,807,391
  • Diabetes – $ 48,138,328
  • Mental Health – $ 53,357,755
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health – $ 31,345,012
  • Injury – $ 28,487,333
  • Dementia – $ 14,278,383
  • Obesity – $ 13,078,741
  • Asthma – $ 12,335,400
  • Arthritis and Osteoporosis – $ 10,397,697

The funding announced today includes the single largest investment in HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) research by the Australian Government – with $16.1 million. University of Melbourne researcher, Professor Stephen Kent, will lead the innovative research program that will bring together an outstanding team of Australian HIV researchers to tackle this health challenge. The research program aims to advance the understanding of the biology of HIV, ultimately leading to significant clinical benefits for HIV-infected patients and those at risk of acquiring HIV.
Despite advances in management of HIV infection with antiviral therapy (the combination of several antiretroviral medicines used to slow the rate at which HIV copies itself in the body), there is still no cure and no effective vaccine, and several co-infections reduce life expectancy for those living with HIV.

Mental health is a continuing priority area for the Turnbull Government and we are leading a transformation in the way mental health care is delivered in Australia. Over $53 million will be targeted through research projects that aim to help the four million Australians who suffer from a form of mental illness each year. This part of the record funding for mental health research that the Turnbull Government is providing this year.

Prioritising the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is again a focus with an investment of over $31 million for research grants on Indigenous health issues. And to support our most talented female researchers, the National Health and Medical Research Council is also introducing a new initiative to reduce the gap in funded rates between male and female lead investigators for Project Grants. Every year the funded rates for Project Grants are higher for men than women. Additional funding has enabled 34 more female lead investigators to be funded in addition to researchers funded through the usual allocation to the Project Grants scheme.

The funding announced today builds on the $202 million of medical research funding announced by the Prime Minister in October and the allocation of $70 million through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Next Generation Clinical Researchers program announced in November, $35 million through the MRFF to support biomedical sector and $100 for the Australian Brain Cancer Mission. The Turnbull Government is committed to supporting Australia’s best health and medical research – and the $640 million investment announced today is a clear demonstration of that commitment.


The breakdown by State is:

2017 outcomes by State and Territory for competitive grants
State Applications Funded Funded Rate Amount % of TOTAL FUNDING
ACT 102 26 25.5% $18,885,257 2%
NSW 1484 282 19.0% $252,014,111 30%
NT 44 13 29.5% $14,317,679 2%
QLD 825 130 15.8% $96,755,468 12%
SA 451 89 19.7% $75,666,385 9%
TAS 94 9 9.6% $5,125,721 1%
VIC 2028 431 21.3% $335,614,204 40%
WA 333 55 16.5% $42,754,477 5%
Total 5361 1035 19.3% $841,133,303

Victoria retains its mantle of receiving 40% or greater of NHMRC funding -but only just.

The top ten administering institutions are:

Administering Institution Applications Funded Funded Rate Amount
Monash University 644 151 23.4% $106,250,800
University of Sydney 548 111 20.3% $97,170,039
University of Melbourne 558 119 21.3% $95,390,809
University of New South Wales 406 80 19.7% $83,770,966
University of Queensland 474 90 19.0% $67,466,218
University of Western Australia 222 39 17.6% $32,976,299
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute 150 38 25.3% $32,365,742
University of Adelaide 247 45 18.2% $31,336,914
Flinders University 78 17 21.8% $24,616,810

These results are significant as it is the first time Monash university is the top ranked administering institution. Victorian organisations are part of the top ten with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute only just outside this group ($24,525,892)


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