Health and medical research

Ms SANDERSON (Adelaide) (15:47): On 2 October, I had the great pleasure of attending the Australian Society for Medical Research Leading Light awards, and I would like to congratulate Professor Deborah White, Director of Cancer Research and Principal Research Fellow of SAHMRI, for her winning research regarding leukaemia. I would also like to commend Dr Renee Turner, head of Transl ational Stroke Research at the Centre for Neuroscience Research at Adelaide University, and the other finalist, Dr Rietie Venter, head of Microbiology, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences at UniSA, for her research in trying to combat the super bugs th at are now becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Health and medical research is one of the critical underpinnings of our diverse Australian fabric. Without health and medical research, there would be no antibiotics to treat infections or chemotherapy drugs to kill cancers, we would never have found out that a small bacterium by the name of Helicobacter pylori causes stomach ulcers which is now curable using a course of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors, and we would never have discovered the technology that allows us to unlock the molecular structures of proteins and subsequently design new targeted drugs for a plethora of diseases. Even the recent investigations by our national football codes into the long - term effects of recurrent concussions are under pinned by health and medical research.

Every day, thousands of scientists around the country go into their laboratories to innovate, investigate and implement. In a climate where health is so topical, whether it be our ageing population, unsustainable healthcare costs or the scourge of cancer and other chronic diseases, health and medical research offers hope and the expectation to millions of patients, their friends and families that they will receive the best care and treatments available because it i s based on the best, most well - researched evidence.

In the last 80 years, there have been 11 Australian recipients of Nobel Prizes for their work and contributions to better understanding human health and disease, then there are teams of Australian scient ists recently responsible for discoveries such as the Gardasil vaccine, cochlear implants, the CPAP machines, in - vitro fertilisation, rotavirus vaccine, nanopatch delivery of vaccine, folate supplementation during pregnancy and the list goes on. New Austra lian research will change the lives of millions. For example, the bionic eye will restore vision to those suffering vision loss.

 

Investing in health and medical research generates returns across multiple economic pillars: reduced healthcare costs, improved and increased productivity and increased export growth. The last 10 years of NHMRC - funded research alone has avoided almost $6 billion in health system costs due to increased wellbeing. Over the last decade, the largest increase in real exports has been i n medical instruments and medicinal and pharmaceutical products — something that could not have b een achieved without investment in research. We know that for every $1 invested in health and medical rese arch there is an average return of $2.17 in health and economic benefits. In 1961, a group of clinician res earchers led by Professor Barry Firkin held the first meeting of the Australian Society for Medical Resea rch — a society that would be the unified voice for all Australian health and medical researchers. Th eir first a ction was to establish the ASMR National Scientific Meeting, recognising the need to bring together scientists to share their research in the spirit of peer review and collaboration.

In the 53 years since that first meeting, the ASMR has grown to be the peak advocacy group for health and medical research, raising community awareness about the value of health and medical research, maki ng evidence - based submissions and communicating directly to government about key issues affecting the sector, and providing professional development opportunities for Australia's up and coming researchers.