Home' News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin April 2016 Contents ADRF
A PERSONAL JOURNEY
My first introduction to dental research was in 1993 as a dental
student at the University of Western Australia (UWA), School of
Dentistry when I received an Australian Dental Research Foundation
(ADRF) research grant to study the shear bond strength of glass
ionomer cement bonded to composite resin.
Since that time and as my career developed, I moved into the
research area of oral oncology. However, the mainstay of my
research funding and support has always been the ADRF.
For the past eight years, I have proudly served on the ADRF Research
Advisory Committee and equally proud to have been appointed
Chairman-elect of the ADRF.
My working assumption has been that if the Foundation was able
to spark my interest in research and help me develop into a dental
clinician-scientist, then it has the potential to do the same for many
other aspiring dental researchers.
It is the role and responsibility of the ADRF to support research in
every manner possible.
IMPORTANCE OF RESEARCH FUNDING
As it continues to be difficult to obtain medical research funding,
there is increased importance to award ADRF grants. It is estimated
that Australia spends between $7 and $9 billion on research annually.
Success rates for major National Health and Medical Research Council
(NHMRC) project grants has hovered around 20% for some time, and
in recent years this has dropped from 16.9% in 2013 to 13.7% in 2015.
While the Government's Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)
underpins the hopes and dreams of many young and established
researchers, it is still not clear how the fund will disperse grants or
where it will get its budgeted $20 billion, up from just $1 billion
currently. To put this into perspective, Apple Corporation spent
US$6 billion on research and development (R&D) in 2014, while its
main competitor in the hand-held and electronics market, Samsung
Electronics spent more than double that at US$14 billion. It puts into
Research supports our profession
L to R: Doctor of Dental Medicine students, Megumi
Takiguchi and Borut Klopcic recipients of 2015 Australian
Dental Research Foundation Dental Student and
Trebitsch Research Grants.
sharp and stark contrast the long way forward for medical research
in this country. Indeed the MRFF has no specific allocation for dental
and oral research, a point the ADRF has raised with the Health
Minister, the Hon. Sussan Ley.
In 2015, only one NHMRC project grant was awarded under the
Dentistry Field of Research valued at $734,288. Although it is not
possible to deduce the percentage success rate for dental-specific
research project grants, it is highly likely it is well below the national
average of 13.7%. Although many researchers target (out of desire
or desperation) other funding bodies to support their research, it
is evident that a different approach is required to sustain dental
research into the future.
Collaboration between dental academics and industry must occur if
our profession is to thrive. Attention needs to be given to innovative,
applied and clinically applicable research. Research priorities must
be set and R&D funds allocated, not only based on academic whims,
but in close consultation with industry partners, the ultimate bearers
of products and services to our patients. Of course pure scientific
endeavour is a noble goal, but in the harshness of the current
economic reality and the dimness of an ever decreasing pool of
public funding for dental research, we must realign our priorities,
and work together not against each other, if our profession is to
continue to espouse the evidence base it does now.
In 2015, the ADRF received 83 research grants and 14 student
scholarship applications requesting almost $1 million in support.
There has been a consistently high number of grant applications
received in recent years. Only one-third of the applications are
expected to be funded from the available funds. Although this is an
improvement on the success rate of the 13.7% NHMRC grants, the
ADRF should be able to fund up to 50% of applications.
As the ADRF continues to refine its processes, and researchers
continue to improve the quality of their applications, there is no
reason why 50% of all applications should not be funded. Currently,
the cut off score for an ADRF funded grant is 7.5/10. This is no easy
feat, when there is only $250,000 available for disbursement.
40 | ADA NEWS BULLETIN | APRIL 2016
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