Antimicrobial Resistance – Targeted Call for Research

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Investment

The Australian Government will invest $5.9 million to support research on antimicrobial usage and resistance in Australia.

Key elements

Through a Targeted Call for Research (TCR), novel and innovative research will be undertaken to help understand and address antimicrobial resistance in residential aged care facilities. Research opportunities include:
  • Addressing knowledge gaps on antimicrobial resistance in residential aged care facilities – focussing on the profile of antimicrobial resistance, strategies to reduce unnecessary and inappropriate use of antimicrobials, and mechanisms of transfer of resistance.
  • Novel technologies – exploring the use of whole genome sequencing of bacteria to determine resistance profiles and how they change in response to different treatments and behaviours.
  • Accelerated translation – development of new interventions and approaches to prevent, detect and respond to resistance.

Rationale

  • The effectiveness of existing antimicrobials is being reduced by emerging resistance.
  • Infections are becoming increasingly difficult to treat, and for some infections there are few remaining treatment options.
  • Antimicrobial resistance is an increasing problem in Australia, the region and globally.
  • Antimicrobial resistance is not only a problem in hospitals, but overuse of antimicrobials in primary care is driving high levels of resistance in the broader community.
  • New research investment is needed to ensure the ongoing availability of effective antimicrobials.

Desired outcomes

  • Understand the impact that patient movement has on antimicrobial resistance in residential aged care facility settings.
  • Early translation of research that promotes the development of optimal and appropriate use of antimicrobials in residential aged care facilities.

Key facts

  • The global unrestrained use of antimicrobials across human and animal health, in agriculture and food production has accelerated the development of antimicrobial resistance to the point where it has become a global health priority.
  • Australia has one of the highest rates of antibiotic use among countries with comparable health systems. Survey data suggest a large proportion of use is inappropriate and unnecessary.
  • In 2015, 10.7 million Australians were prescribed antimicrobials – 45 per cent of the population.
  • High rates of antibiotic use are associated with increasing rates of antibiotic resistance.
  • Rates of resistance to some common antibiotics are increasing globally. Australia has one of the highest rates of resistance to vancomycin in the world.
  • The commercial return on the discovery and development of new antibiotics is relatively low. This has resulted in most large and mid-sized pharmaceutical companies withdrawing from antibiotic research.
  • With an ageing population, the prevalence of people accessing residential aged care facilities in Australia is increasing.
  • A number of factors unique to residential aged care facilities contribute to a high use of antibiotics and a heightened risk of getting infections, including antimicrobial resistant infections.
  • There are significant gaps in our knowledge of antibiotic resistant organisms in residential aged care facilities, including our understanding of the spread of infections within facilities and between facilities, hospitals and other settings.
  • There is global recognition of the need for increased investment in research and development to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Implementation

  • The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is administering this grant round.
  • Research grants will be awarded to meritorious proposals submitted in response to a TCR consistent with standard NHMRC TCR procedures.
  • Further details on the opportunity can be found at GrantConnect.

Medical Research Future Fund

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) demonstrates the Government’s strong commitment to research and innovation. The MRFF provides a long term sustainable source of funding for endeavours that aim to improve health outcomes, quality of life and health system sustainability.

The MRFF will double direct Australian Government funding for health and medical research.

The MRFF is a dedicated vehicle for priority investment in health and medical research.

The MRFF, established under the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015, provides grants of financial assistance to support health and medical research and innovation in improving the health and wellbeing of Australians. It operates as an endowment fund with the capital preserved in perpetuity. At maturity, the MRFF will reach $20 billion.

The first disbursements from the MRFF focus on translating research into real health benefits, breakthrough investments in new technologies and challenges, and enhancing Australia’s reputation for research excellence and leadership.

Over $65 million will be injected into a range of programs that cut across the research pipeline – fuelling new discoveries and the translation and commercialisation of great Australian ideas.

Advisory Board

The Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, established in accordance with the MRFF Act, is responsible for consulting on and developing a five-yearly Strategy that sets out the vision, aims and objectives for the MRFF and an accompanying two-yearly list of Priorities. The Government must consider the Strategy and Priorities in making MRFF investment decisions.

Strategy 2016-2021

Vision: A health system fully informed by quality health and medical research.

Identifies key strategic investment platforms that set to position Australia to meet future healthcare challenges:
  • Strategic and international horizons
  • Data and infrastructure
  • Health services and systems research
  • Capacity and collaboration
  • Trials and translation
  • Commercialisation

Priorities 2016-2018

The first MRFF disbursements address identified Priorities under each strategic platform, are a mix of strategic investments, and use a range of administrative mechanisms to maximise impact. More disbursements will occur in 2017-18.

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