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Stop calling for more funding and use what you've got better

By John Zalcberg - posted Monday, 29 August 2011

Next month the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research will release the results of its Strategic Roadmap for Australian Research Infrastructure.

This document will articulate Australia's national research infrastructure priority areas. This is an important step in managing the distribution of the finite pool of resources available for medical and health research and will, it is hoped, ensure new approaches, strategies and technologies are given scope to develop, securing the best possible health outcomes for Australia.

It is not just governments who should be considering their strategic directions. It is critical that Australian researchers position their organisations to make the greatest possible impact with the limited funds available.


At the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group we have devised an innovative approach to identifying potential improvements in bowel cancer research.

We will be holding a consensus meeting on 23 August which will bring together cancer survivors, health care providers, funders and researchers to identify the areas of bowel cancer research that are in need of attention. Identifying gaps in bowel cancer clinical trials will help define and prioritise future research into improving patient care and outcomes.

Cancer survival rates in Australia are currently among the best in the world.

This is due to many factors, amongst which are well-trained clinicians who practice evidence-based medicine. In doing so, they themselves have a focus on research with the current emphasis on translational trials. These trials translate laboratory research into clinical practice.

The goal of co-operative clinical trials groups is to conduct clinical trials to improve the treatments on offer to Australian patients by driving innovation into cures and disease management strategies.

The focus of our work is on finding better cancer treatments, prevention and early detection, as well as studying quality of life and rehabilitation issues.


Co-operative clinical trials groups are comprised of doctors, nurses, researchers and patients who volunteer their time and expertise to test the latest innovative treatments with patients in hospitals and medical centres across the country.

These organisations are funded indirectly by the federal government, industry and the community and must compete with other health and medical research organisations for the finite pool of funds available.

The benefit of carrying out clinical research in Australian hospitals is that it gives Australian doctors a direct involvement in the latest research and treatment techniques, providing better outcomes for Australian patients.

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About the Author

Professor John Zalcberg is Chair of the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group -

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