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Medical Research Future Fund announces A$382m in grants

Image: University of Newcastle

Australian funding round emphasises Indigenous health, commercialisation and RNA studies

Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund has announced A$382 million in health research funding, with nearly 10 per cent going to Indigenous health issues.

In a statement on 15 March, the fund said that 193 projects had been selected across its priority areas.

The grants come from numerous “missions” and special initiatives, ranging from A$6m for a single brain cancer study to A$60.5m for 45 projects in public health and preventive interventions.

Some A$50 million will be funnelled to a biomedical commercialisation incubator known as CUREator, operated by Brandon BioCatalyst.

Health minister Mark Butler said the funding was “about strengthening opportunities for Australian health and medical research. It will help commercialise proof-of-concepts and deepen international research ties now and in the future.”

University projects

The majority of the funding will go to university-led projects. The University of Newcastle said its 10 successful applications were a “significant funding boost” totalling A$17.6m.

Among Newcastle’s funded projects are a study of personalised treatment of patients suffering shock, a study on reducing smoking by pregnant Indigenous women and a project that will work with middle-aged adults to determine whether improved sleep helps with controlling glucose levels.

Jenny Bowman (pictured), a professor in Newcastle’s school of psychological sciences, received a A$1.14m grant to study the interactions between mental health and life expectancy. The study will partner with non-governmental organisations that work with people with mental health conditions. 

Indigenous and early career funding

The Indigenous health projects include A$1.8m for a maternal and infant health project at the University of Queensland, a A$3.5m University of Sydney project working with primary healthcare services on screening for alcohol risks, and almost A$2m for an initiative targeting chronic respiratory diseases, to be delivered by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.

Around A$25m will go to five projects developing RNA technologies. A category for early career researchers will distribute around A$45m to more than 20 projects, ranging from a study of sepsis care in intensive care units to how patients move from paediatric to adult healthcare.