Call for more oversight in medical research

It’s not just more money it’s who decides where it goes

Labor’s Chris Bowen wants changes to Medical Research Future Fund allocations, in particular to the policy of targeted calls for applications for research in priority areas.  He suggests once MRFF priorities are set the National Health and Medical Research Council could “identify the most efficacious bids for research,” (CMM November 29).

It’s an idea as old as the MRFF and it still has supporters. Following Mr Bowen’s suggestion, the Australian Society for Medical Research  warned “years of static investment” is having “devastating impacts” on the full-time NHMRC-supported research workforce, down 20 per cent between 2012 and 2017.

The association added that NHMRC funded projects are “subject to rigorous peer review and return over $3 in health and economic benefits for every $1.00 invested.” However, MRFF research, “in the later stages of the discovery-to-translation pipeline … are not necessarily subject to expert review.”

ASMR calls for an immediate increase of $400m for the NHMRC research fund and for the government to “ensure transparency and an overarching principle of peer-review for MRFF disbursements.”


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