Australian Health and Medical Research, The early years, International Collaborations, Areas of health and medical research.
This article is a brief overview of Australian health and medical research, with the role of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) as a main focus.
A history of health and medical research in Australia
Health and medical research has significantly contributed to the improvements in human health and well being all over the world, and Australia has played its part. As outcome of this research, they have gained a lot by being healthier for longer through better treatments and also improved health care and from contributions to national wealth through the advancements of pioneering industries. In spite of the significant role of research in Australia, there have been a few specific compilations on the Australia history and medical research.
Before the 1900s, medical research efforts of Australia scientist attention were on Australian flora, parasitology and bacteriology. In this early years daily accounts record significant observations made by medical practitioners based on unique surveillance on smallpox in the late 1700s, successfully smallpox vaccination by john Savage and Thomas Jamison in the early 1800s and also Harry Allen’s study of the pathology of syphilis also John Thomas’s work on hydatid disease in the late 1800s. The University of Melbourne begins its first medical school in 1862, followed by the University of Sydney in 1883, and other states and territories in the end. Firstly the most research was done in traditional academic departments but, gradually it was carried out in dedicated research centers and institutes.
The independent medical research institutes long times now have been distinctive feature of the Australian health and medical research. The Australian first formal medical research facility in 1910, the Australian institute of the tropical medicine, it was established in the northern Queensland, closely followed by the founding of the Walter and Eliza hall Institute in Melbourne in 1915.
The founding of the NHMRC in 1936 was arguably the most significant occurrence among the two Worlds for medical research here. The NHMRC was found to the improve understanding and treating the cause of disease. Including Vitamin, viruses, and endocrine disorders. In the definition of the scope of the new council, the Minister for Health, William Hughes, said Research have to be actively pursued and develop as well, as fast as a new knowledge is needed it must be applied. This early identification that the role of a body such as the NHMRC was to maintain the discovery research and also to work to achieve the benefits of research for the community has remained an important center for NHMRC over it’s approximately eight decades and is articulated as a precedence action in its current strategic plan.
The Examples of research advances between 1900 and 1950 comprise:
- epidemiological studies on the 1900 Sydney plague outbreak — John Thompson
- development of the first portable electrocardiograph — Edward Both
- development of a respirator — Edward and Donald Both
- treatment of bipolar disorders with lithium — John Cade
- isolation of a strain of the influenza A virus — Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet
- Better understanding of malaria and development of an antimalarial drug— Sir Neil
Since the early days of the 19th century, medical researchers in Australian universities and the independent institutes and hospitals have corresponded and collaborated with researchers and health professionals overseas. Such partnership has continued, and the extent of international teamwork has almost double over the past 20 years. In the period 2005-2009, 41% of Australian health and medical research publications involve international collaboration, compared with 21% during 1993-1994.
Australia has standards and guidelines on research ethics and integrity for 50 years. National guidance on general scientific practice (1990) and the Australian Vice-Chancellors’ committee’s strategy for liable practice in research and problems of research misconduct (1990). The existing Australian code for the responsible conduct of research (2007) gives wide guidance on the responsibilities of institutions and researchers when conducting research and a framework for investigating allegations of investigated misconduct. The present National Statement on ethical conduct in human research (2007) was preceded by numerous guidance equipment initially the NHMRC’s statement on human test that was issued in 1966.
After a confidential focus of research, Australian health and medical research became broadened and today it includes:
- The basic biomedical science
- Clinical medicine and science
- Public health and health services.
This is proof y the Australian Government’s costs on health and medical research through the NHMRC in 2013 that totalled $852.9 million, including $365.1 million for essential biomedical science, $282.9 million for medical medicine and science, $120.4 million for open health and $42.1 million for health services.
The early research involves the Indigenous people and was largely observational. In October 2002, the NHMRC adopted some indigenous health research as a tactical priority and made also a committee to assign a minimum of 5% of the medical research endowment account to indigenous health. Between 1995 and 2013, the NHMRC funded above $410 million in research of relevance to the health of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Research into the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People collect an exact focus in the NHMRC’s consideration of grants, through assessment against an exact criterion of community engagement, gain, sustainability and transfer ability, creating capacity, priority and significance. Additionally, the NHMRC has published guidance on ethical conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research.
There are seven Australian-born Nobel laureates in medicine or physiology, among the five wholly conducted researches partly in Australia:
- 2005 — Barry Marshall and Robin Warren for discovering the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease
- 1996 — Peter Doherty for discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell-mediated immune defense
- 1963 — Sir John Eccles for discoveries concerning the ionic mechanisms involved in excitation and inhibition in the peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane
- 1960 — Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet for discovering acquired immunological tolerance.
The other Australians who have won a Nobel Prize conducted outside Australia include Elizabeth Blackburn in (2009) and Howard Florey in 1945.
Community maintains and recognition of health and medical research has been high in recent decades. This is indicated by the number of Australian researchers who have been made Australian of the year, including Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet (1960) and Sir John Eccles (1963), and in more recent years, Peter Doherty (1997), Sir Gustav Nossal (2000), Fiona Stanley (2003), Ian Frazer (2006) and Patrick McGorry (2010) — all of whom have been supported in their research careers by NHMRC financial support.
The Australian health and medical research has highly rates against benchmarks. Biblical analyses of Australian health and medical research publication for the past two decades have established the international competitiveness of Australian health and med. Researchers.
Right from 1973 till 2013, the Australian government, through the NHMRC, has appropriated a predictable $8.46 billion for health med. research (adjusted for inflation). In 2013, research spending through the NHMRC was $852.9 million, compared with total health financial support of $140.2 billion in 2011–2012. Some key funding milestones are outlined in government reviews of Australian health and medical research and of NHMRC funding, as well as independent reviews commissioned by the NHMRC in recent years, have suggested and led to improvements to the research structure in Australia. The NHMRC has been a pioneering funder. It has implemented novel research funding approaches in efforts in efforts to encourage the faster translation of research into health policy and clinical practice. For example, centers of clinical research excellence were introduced in the 1990s and expanded to cover public health and also open health services research excellence was introduced in 2010; and practitioner fellowships for researchers delivering health care were introduced in 2000. Beginning in 2009, the NHMRC’s Partnerships for Better Health initiatives introduced two flexible models for policy and practice research, cofunding these with organizations (from the government, non-government and private sectors) that have a need for research to inform their work. Support for early and mid career researchers across biomedical, clinical and population health research has been a feature for a decade, and the NHMRC’s longstanding Research Fellowship scheme has been an important factor in growth of the medical research sector over more than three decades.
The NHMRC was also one of the earliest funders to introduce specific criteria for peer review into its grant assessment practices, predating the recent call for this in the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment.
The success of Australian researchers in contributing to major advances continues in this century. Already, Australian researchers have led developments in vaccines against human papillomavirus, malaria and group A streptococcus; have developed spray-on skin cells for burns victims; and have led discoveries in genetics (eg, human enhancer sequences in DNA and functions for “junk DNA”).
Countries with a high-quality health system need an active, involved health and medical research effort. The challenge put by Hughes in 1936 remains — that research must be actively pursued and developed, and as fast as new knowledge is acquired it must be applied.
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