January 18, 2017  Print

Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) President, Professor Tony Cunningham AO, has welcomed the announcement of the Hon Greg Hunt MP as Health Minister and Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos to the Industry, Innovation & Science portfolio.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
The Hon Greg Hunt MP

“AAMRI is excited about working with Minister Hunt, who has demonstrated a great understanding of the role health and medical research plays in Australia. In his previous role Mr Hunt delivered a $250 million Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF) as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. I am delighted the new Minister has today spoken about his passion for the translation of medical research.” Professor Cunningham said.

Minister Hunt said he was “deeply honoured” to be given the health portfolio.

“My mother was a nurse. My wife is a nurse. All my life I have witnessed the absolute dedication of Australia’s medical professionals,” said the Minister.

“I now look forward to working with our excellent nurses, doctors, researchers, and all our healthcare professionals.

Our scientists are recognised as some of the best in the world for their medical breakthroughs.

“I am passionate about turning what is done in the laboratory into better healthcare for patients, and more effectively preventing illness in the first place.”

Professor Cunningham said he was also assured by the knowledge that Minister Sinodinos had spoken passionately about the health and economic benefits of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) in the past, calling it a ‘landmark coalition initiative’, and about the economic benefits that health and medical research hubs bring to our cities.

Professor Cunningham also congratulated the Hon Ken Wyatt MP on his appointment as Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health.

“Ten of AAMRI’s 47 members work in Indigenous health, helping to close the gap on many health conditions that disproportionately affect our first Australians such as rheumatic heart disease, diabetes and kidney diseases,” Professor Cunningham said.

“It will be an honour to work with the first Indigenous Australian in a Federal ministry to help further this important work, and AAMRI’s members will make him most welcome when he visits them.

Professor Cunningham said it had been shown time and again what a terrific investment medical research is for Australia. It’s estimated at least $3 is returned for every $1 invested in health and medical research through improved diagnostics, savings to the health system and improved treatments and cures.

“Just last week there was an announcement about the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s approval of the leukaemia drug Venetoclax, which was developed by AAMRI member the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, in conjunction with fellow AAMRI member Peter Mac, and the Royal Melbourne Hospital,” he said.  “This drug essentially ‘melts away’ cancer and will save lives and is another marvellous example of Australian medical research. There will be many more to come thanks to the new sustainable funding the MRFF will bring.”

Professor Cunningham also paid tribute to outgoing Health Minister Sussan Ley and wished her well in the future.

“Ms Ley has been incredibly supportive of health and medical research in Australia as Health Minister,” Professor Cunningham said.

“She was a dedicated advocate for the MRFF; she visited a number of AAMRI’s member institutes while in this role and always showed a keen interest in the work being undertaken.”