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Experts appointed to guide A$227m in MRFF investments


Medical Research Future Fund announces panels for priorities including childhood mental health and long Covid

The Australian government has allocated a total of A$227 million to four priority funding streams in the Medical Research Future Fund.

Expert panels have been appointed to advise on research investments in each of the new MRFF priority areas, which are: primary healthcare, childhood mental health, translation of diabetes and cardiovascular disease research, and long Covid.

The panels were announced on 26 June, with grant opportunities in these areas expected to open in the third quarter of 2023 and funding set to begin in 2024.

Terms of reference

The long Covid group’s terms of reference require it to consider a recent parliamentary inquiry into long Covid, as well as existing research funding. Its three main priorities will be post-viral syndromes, the effects of Covid-19 in triggering specific conditions, and “medically unexplained conditions” such as fatigue. The panel will be chaired by Gail Matthews, head of infectious diseases at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. The funding for this stream is A$50m.

The primary healthcare research funding of A$50m will go to priorities including “multidisciplinary models of primary care”, with “a focus on addressing inequities in access and outcomes” in certain populations. This stream will also fund research into better use of data, and translational research to bring new knowledge to the sector.

The childhood mental health plan will distribute A$50m for research involving children aged up to 15. The mental health panel includes senior officials from the Black Dog Institute for mental health, as well as representatives from specific areas, such as the Australia and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders. It also includes a member drawn from the MRFF’s consumer reference panel.

The diabetes and cardiovascular disease research translation panel includes executives from medical technology firms, the chief executive of Diabetes Australia and the chief medical adviser of the National Heart Foundation of Australia. This stream of funding has A$77.5m to distribute. This complements A$47m that has already been committed to a research accelerator being operated by MTPConnect, a not-for-profit medical technology growth centre.