Health and medical research is Australia’s largest and most celebrated research field. Strong public investment in Australian health and medical research has led to internationally recognised breakthroughs, including the Cochlear implant, the cervical cancer and influenza vaccines and spray-on skin for treating burns. Universities are integral to Australia’s health and medical research efforts, linking hospitals, independent medical research institutes, government science agencies and industry, and providing the majority of research training.
Australia’s exceptional performance in health and medical research is founded on having a strong research sector more generally, with a base of excellence in underpinning disciplines. Medical research draws on many disciplines that would benefit from the same longer-term, whole-of-government strategic thinking that underpins the MRFF and the proposed Strategy.
The proposed building blocks for the Strategy are sensible and provide a strong focus on creating the right policy settings to drive new research developments with the potential to improve interventions and services for better health outcomes. The key issues affecting the wider research and innovation system need to be considered. Australia’s ability to capitalise on the MRFF will be diminished if the fundamentals of the research system are not maintained.