Significant and relevant research outcomes are key to the objectives of MS Research Australia and paramount to achieving our vision of ‘freedom from MS’. The results of the audit will be used to inform strategic decisions regarding the MS Research Australia funding portfolio moving forward.
In the time since we were established in 2004, MS Research Australia has awarded $14,280,211 in funding for investigator-led research via 154 separate grants. These grants cover applications from researchers around the country and can be about any aspect of MS. The audit took the form of a survey and was completed by the lead investigator on each project. We had an excellent response rate with $9,024,252 of funding covered by the audit.
Highlights from the findings included identification of additional follow-on funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council of $16,130,549 over the last three years. This gives a multiplier factor of 2.6 on the original funding investment of MS Research Australia. The survey also captured over 200 peer-reviewed scientific publications and 4 patents arising directly from research funded by MS Research Australia. Many clinical assays and biomarkers have also been developed from MS Research Australia funding.
Another aspect of the survey was capacity building in the MS research field, with 94% of MS Research Australia-funded researchers continuing to have a research interest in MS. The survey also found that 38 of the investigators funded by MS Research Australia trained 148 other researchers during their grant time.
These insights and others will now form the basis of a much larger resource map of MS research that is currently being prepared. The resource map will be used to identify gaps in research and determine research priorities.
To encourage participation in the survey, MS Research Australia offered a giveaway to researchers who completed the survey. The winning researcher, Dr Jun Yan from the University of Queensland, is now the proud owner of an Apple iPad. ‘I am so happy to be the lucky recipient of this prize,’ commented Dr Yan, ‘I would like to thank MS Research Australia for conducting this survey which gave us a chance, and place, to express and submit our suggestions about funding strategies and to review and summarize our own research progress and achievements. I felt that it was not only essential feedback for the grant funders, but also for MS researchers, in that it provided an insightful viewpoint which might help with future direction. I believe that it will make the new funding program more suitable for both the funder and the researcher and help us work together in combating this disease’.
‘Tracking the outcomes of our research funding is a large part of what we do at MS Research Australia’, said Dr Matthew Miles, Chief Executive Officer at MS Research Australia, ‘and due to the longer term nature of a lot of research, outcomes from funding ten years ago is still ongoing as initial findings are built upon. We are very pleased with the audit findings and feel that the results confirm MS Research Australia is funding the best and most valuable research for people with MS in Australia’.