The future funding of medical research: it’s not only about what, and to whom, but also about how support can be applied?

21st July 2015

Our previous post identified a simplified three-dimensional puzzle to help identify support strategies including;

  1. transparentDisease(s) or condition(s),
  2. The field(s) of research, and
  3. The translational pathway(s) to deliver impact

Applying this strategy by taking into account your internal expertise, capability and capacity, and the wider supporting ecosystem (including funding and access to facilities, expertise and translational support) can help identify effective giving strategies for medical research.  It can help organisations understand how their support can be applied and communicated. Building and maintaining capability and capacity by providing scholarships, fellowships, professorial Chairs, infrastructure and equipment through a structured longer-term program may be of significant interest to some donors and foundations.  This is particularly true where rare or ‘orphaned’ diseases are the primary interest. Depending on the starting position it may take some time for researchers in an emerging field to attain success in major funding streams such as the NHMRC or ARC.  Those seeking funding for rare diseases that falls outside of priority areas may also find they are not eligible for some grants and that leveraging can be more difficult find. Fields of research may also be of specific interest to some funders who may elect to focus on patient care or biomedical research for example.  Research projects across fields may be wide ranging and include community access and health programs, disease prevention, in-patient care and rehabilitation in hospitals and nursing homes, process evaluation and improvement (e.g. needle stick injuries and iatrogenic outcomes), biomedical research (blue-sky, or translational), technologies or clinical studies/trials. Each field and disease in a research program may have a different translational pathway, but there are some common attributes to explore when considering success. Some considerations (not in any order) when considering translation, aligning expectations and how support may be applied include:

The expertise required to efficiently and effectively support activities within this matrix of funding varies and may influence a donor or foundation’s decision to focus on one area or another.  It should also influence the potential for collaborations or partnerships with others. At NFMRI we have developed an impact-giving guide and a short presentation to help communicate where we fit into the puzzle. We look to partner with others including government, industry, other foundations and philanthropists to collaborate and assist each other achieve shared purpose. We are also holding a conference ‘putting rubber on the road’ on September 9/10th 2015 at the Australian Maritime Museum to provide an opportunity to engage and expand the conversation.

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