2016/2017 has been a significant year for Biomedical Research Victoria and we can rightly be proud of what we have achieved. It is important that we remind ourselves of the key role BioMedVic plays as the premier voice for linking health and medical research to clinical care in Victoria.
Our reach is significant and should not be underestimated.
BioMedVic embraces more than three quarters of Victoria’s 25,000 biomedical scientists and clinicians across universities, academic hospitals, medical research institutes, CSIRO and other organisations.
Our think tanks identify synergies and facilitate knowledge exchange between opinion leaders who shape future health delivery and policy. Our programs span the frontiers of leading edge research, world-class clinical care and front line policy. In combination, BioMedVic’s work helps ensure generational step-change in the skills and expertise of health and medical researchers and emerging students of STEM.
These are big responsibilities that require us to be constantly aware of, and pay attention to, our positioning as an organisation, and hence the positioning of our Members, against a shifting political landscape and in the increasingly dynamic world of medical research and clinical care.
During 2016/2017 BioMedVic made many significant achievements in advocacy, training and forging key links on behalf of Members.
We made direct representation to key Victorian Government committees including the Science, Medical Research and Technology (SMaRT) Panel, the Digital Health Strategic Advisory Committee and the Ministerial Advisory Council providing input into the Victorian health system state-wide service and infrastructure plan.
We also provided genuinely authentic representation of the diversity of interests of our member health and medical research organisations in briefings to state and federal Ministers, ministerial advisors and senior leaders in key departments.
This was reflected in the invitations we received to provide trusted support of Victorian Government initiatives worth over $5 million including delivery of the inaugural Victorian Health and Medical Research Fellowships, advising on the Medical Research Acceleration Fund and leadership of stakeholder workshops to articulate a Victorian Medtech Initiative.
We also further bridged the gap between scientists and policy makers through the Researcher in Residence program by placing six ECRs in the offices of state or federal parliamentarians and a government department.
In a major positioning success, we achieved international recognition of Melbourne: A City of Science and Innovation in a partnership with the iconic science and medicine publisher Springer Nature to launch the online, interactive research network map showing our members’ output and how they collaborate in high quality research across greater Melbourne.
This dovetailed with our efforts to raise international awareness of Victoria’s expertise and capacity in health and medical research on business missions to Beijing, Tianjin, Osaka and Medical Japan.
Knowledge exchange and expanding sector intelligence, as always, was a high priority for BioMedVic’s unique key opinion leader networks, the Scientific Advisory Council and the Hospital Research Directors Forum.
In partnership with Principal Sponsor CSL, BioMedVic stimulated the research careers of 46 Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) scholars, taking the grand total to over 630 undergraduates. We also upskilled more than 200 PhD candidates and ECRs through the STEMM Central Commercialisation Bootcamp delivered with the Cancer Therapeutics CRC.
Importantly for the sector, BioMedVic initiated efforts to enhance Victoria’s efficiency and competitiveness in commercially sponsored clinical trials through modelling for cost recovery and best practice.
As one would expect there was a raft of other achievements; some small, some personal – all significant at some level.
We celebrated the career achievements of Professor Len Harrison and supported conference attendance for four early-career clinician researchers through the 2016 BioMedVic Clinician Researcher Awards.
We demonstrated leadership at all levels of the organisation around gender equity.
We are a Foundation Partner of the Regenerative Medicine Industry Interface (RMI2) and provided numerous letters of support for Member activities including establishment of the Medicine Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) to whose Advisory Board I’ve recently been appointed.
And, we continued our advocacy for a long-term science and innovation plan for Victoria. A plan that has bi-partisan support, is overseen by a senior Minister and is well coordinated, focussed and supported by ongoing sufficient investment.
There is no doubt Victoria is Australia’s biomedical research capital, capable of competing successfully with the world’s innovation hotspots, including Boston, London and Singapore, in the drive to improve health and create wealth.
But, this is a mantel that deserves and must receive constant nurturing.
We know that given the right circumstances and the right support, our Member organisations will continue to be leaders in health and medical research and clinical care.
BioMedVic’s role is to advocate and to shape the understandings and opinions of those who impact our Members’ ability to do what they do best. BioMedVic’s role is to harmonise the efforts of its Members so that Victorians get the very best return on the monies invested in their future health. BioMedVic’s role is to be the premier voice for linking health and medical research to clinical care here in Victoria and beyond.
This is what we did in 2016/2017.
And, with the ongoing support of our Members, is exactly what we will continue to do.
Prof Jan Tennent