$6 million funding boost for translation of medical research into health solutions for patients

17 Jul 2018
$6 million funding boost for translation of medical research into health solutions for patients

The translation of Australia’s world-leading medical research into patient benefit has been boosted by a three-year funding commitment announced today by the Turnbull Government.

The South Australian Academic Health Science and Translation Centre (SA Centre), which brings together medical researchers and clinicians across South Australia, will receive $6.1 million from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to continue its efforts to translate cutting-edge research into health impact.

Federal Minister for Health, the Honourable Greg Hunt MP, announced the investment in the work of the SA Centre, who are working collaboratively to deliver tangible health solutions to some of Australia’s greatest health challenges.

The Honorary Executive Director of the SA Centre, Professor Steve Wesselingh, welcomed the funding commitment.

“This funding will assist the SA Centre to support the next generation of projects and help speed up the process of taking new scientific discoveries from the bench into day-to-day clinical practice,” Professor Wesselingh said.

“The SA Centre is about using what we know from research and working collaboratively with health services, consumers and other important stakeholders, to facilitate changes that will improve the health of South Australians, but this isn’t possible without funding, and for this reason, we are incredibly grateful to Minister Hunt and his team.

“We are confident this funding will assist in translating research into real health benefits, and enhancing Australia’s reputation for research excellence and leadership.

“The projects we funded with the first round of MRFF support were selected because they were identified as areas of greatest clinical concern to the Australian community.

“But thanks to this boost in funding, we can branch out further and address additional areas of concern, improving health outcomes for even more Australians.”

To date, the MRFF has enabled nine projects to be funded that will deliver translational outcomes in 2018 through a $2 million allocation to the SA Centre. Support to the SA Centre’s projects has already enabled the implementation of new knowledge into the health care system, evaluation and refinement of existing health care services, and support for bi–directional collaboration between researchers and health care providers to enable a dynamic and thrilling hub with a shared focus on improvements to healthcare for all.

There is currently transformational work occurring in the Aboriginal health space, with the SA Centre providing leadership through the SA Aboriginal Chronic Disease Consortium. Aboriginal people experience significantly higher rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer at younger ages in South Australia and there has been little or no improvement in recent years. Working together with the Aboriginal community, the Consortium aims to reduce the impact of chronic disease on this group, through implementing cross-sector, evidence-based service provision strategies.

Another interesting priority area is healthy ageing, where South Australia has established a comprehensive state-wide registry to support activities to improve health outcomes for older South Australians. This prospective and retrospective registry will facilitate a range of projects that will better inform the provision of health services for older people across the state – an example of this is an investigation into the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or ‘superbugs’ in residential aged care. 

Other priority areas include: the implementation of current knowledge to improve the outcomes for preterm babies using omega-3 supplementation; understanding the impact and implementing strategies to improve outcomes from joint replacements; improving the uptake and outcomes of bowel cancer screening; improving services and support for patients in rehabilitation after a cardiac event; providing improved models of care for high-risk diabetes patients; and enabling better stroke services and rehabilitation.

About the South Australian Academic Health Science and Translation Centre (SA Centre):

The South Australian Academic Health Science and Translation Centre (SA Centre) was competitively accredited by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in 2015 as one of the first four research translation centres in Australia. In a unique whole-of-state collaborative network, the SA Centre brings together SA Health and its five Local Health Networks, the State’s two Primary Health Networks, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, the University of South Australia, the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) – the peak body representing the Aboriginal community controlled sector in South Australia, the Cancer Council SA and the Health Consumers Alliance (HCA).

At a national level, the SA Centre works with the eight other Centres on five national system reform projects. The other centres are Monash Partners and Melbourne Academic Centre (MAC) in Melbourne, Sydney Health Partners (Northern Sydney) and SPHERE (South East Sydney), Western Australian Health Translation Network, Brisbane Diamantina and Centres for Regional Innovation in Regional NSW and Central Australia through the Australian Health Research Alliance (AHRA).