Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Medical Research Cut?

By Stephen Luntz

Medical researchers have launched a campaign in response to rumours of large cuts to science funding in this year’s Budget.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

A combination of election promises, commitments to return the Budget to surplus by 2013 and flood costs not covered by the proposed levy have left the federal government seeking expenditure savings. Numerous reports indicate that scientific research is a major target, with high-level reports of a $400 million cut to the National Health and Medical Research Council over 3 years.

The NHMRC’s annual budget is $700 million. A similar cut was mooted in 2008, but Prime Minister Kevin Rudd overruled the proposal. Australian Research Council funds are reportedly under similar threat, but it is medical researchers who have launched the Discoveries Need Dollars campaign, with an initial kick-off from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

Numerous researchers have become involved, pointing out that already there is plenty of high quality medical research lacking funding. “The peer review system is very tough, and it assesses 40–50% of grant applications as first class research that should be funded no matter what,” says WEHI Director Prof Doug Hilton. “Currently about 20% get funded, so morale is low because you have to submit five applications to get one funded. If we drop much lower we will see good people walking away from the profession, as has happened in the [United] States.”

Hilton says he has no problems with the process the government is going through of...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.