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No extra funds for research

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned that there will be no additional funding for medical research as the Commonwealth focuses on containing health spending.

But Mr Abbott has vowed the Government will push ahead with promised reforms to National Health and Medical Research Council grants, including introducing a screening process to weed out unlikely applications at an early stage, and increasing the length of grants.

The Prime Minister made the comments while announcing the award of almost $560 million for grants approved by the NHMRC. He said there had been more than 5000 grants applications, of which 963 (19 per cent) were successful.

There was no increase in funding beyond that already provided for by the out-going Labor Government, but Mr Abbott said the Government remained committed to support health and medical research.

“The Government is determined to do everything that we reasonably can, even in these fiscally challenged times, to ensure that Australia’s health and medical research effort continues,” he said.

“At this point in time, we don’t have additional funding, [but] there’s a lot of work that we are going to do, even within the current fiscal envelope.”

By research area, cancer claimed the largest share of funding, with projects receiving almost $128 million. The next largest amount, $70 million, was for cardiovascular disease, while mental health projects shared $60 million, diabetes $45 million, injury $41 million, Indigenous health $32 million, obesity $24 million and dementia $22 million.

Adrian Rollins