MRFF projects

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) supports Australian health and medical research. Read about some of our projects.


Helping newborn babies to start breathing

One in ten newborns need help to start breathing at birth. Australian company ResusRight is developing a world-first portable resuscitation monitor. The Nemo monitor shows paramedics and birth attendants how much air to give the baby, helping to avoid injury or death.

Improving cancer outcomes by helping regional patients join clinical trials

Cancer specialist Associate Professor Craig Underhill is leading an ambitious program to improve cancer outcomes in regional Victoria by 2025. He is giving patients access to new treatments by increasing their access to clinical trials.

Smart glasses could help people who are blind or vision impaired navigate by sound

Augmented reality glasses combine machine vision and AI to add digital information to what we see. Entrepreneur Robert Yearsley is adapting this technology to help people who are blind or vision impaired navigate by spatial sound.

Measuring the wellbeing of First Nations youth

Australian youth are among the healthiest in the world, but First Nations youth continue to be left behind. To help close this gap, researchers are developing a wellbeing measure specifically for First Nations youth.

Nurses are helping rural and regional women access contraception and medical abortion

Women living in rural and regional areas have more unplanned pregnancies and less access to contraception and medical abortion. Professor Danielle Mazza AM is trialling a nurse-led model of care to address this need.

Virtual reality is helping brain injury survivors regain use of their arms and hands

Survivors of brain injuries caused by stroke and other serious events can lose function in their arms and hands. An Australian company is creating a virtual reality therapy system to help survivors regain the use of these limbs.

Can AI personalise mental health treatments for university students?

University students can feel severe psychological distress before their exams. The Vibe Up trial uses artificial intelligence (AI) to find out if digital mental health therapies can help, and which therapies work best for each student.

Does using telehealth affect our healthcare?

Telehealth was an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing patients to consult with GPs by telephone or video under lockdown. Post-pandemic, telehealth is here to stay. Professors Rosemary Korda and Christine Phillips are finding out how using telehealth affects primary healthcare.

A smart gas-sensing capsule invented in Australia could soon help people living with bowel syndromes

Doctors could soon use the smart Atmo Gas Capsule to diagnose and treat bowel syndromes, replacing invasive or hard to interpret methods. The Australian company Atmo Biosciences is developing and marketing this new device.

mRNA therapies to stop heart disease

Associate Professor Xiaowei Wang wants to stop heart disease. To reach this goal, Xiaowei is developing mRNA therapies. She uses nanoparticles in nasal spray and with ultrasound to target these therapies to disease sites in the body.

Reducing the stigma of elder abuse to improve older people’s health

Elder abuse causes declining physical and mental health in older people. But older people are often too ashamed to report it. Professor Bianca Brijnath is trialling a new model of care to help older people report abuse and improve their health.

Finding a drug to protect the heart from damage by COVID-19

COVID-19 can be fatal for patients with heart disease. Even patients without heart disease can suffer damage to their heart. Bioengineer Professor James Hudson has found a drug which could protect our hearts from this damage.

Emerging health and medical research leaders are solving health problems and improving health care

The MRFF’s Early to Mid-Career Researchers initiative helps emerging health and medical research leaders team up to solve difficult health problems or improve health care. Project leaders explain their ground-breaking research.

To celebrate National Reconciliation Week, we ask First Nations health and medical research experts how we are closing the gap

Reconciliation is about strengthening relationships between First Nations and non-First Nations peoples, for the benefit of all Australians. First Nations health and medical research experts tell us what we have achieved and what more we can do to improve the health of their peoples.

Birthing healthy and strong babies on Country

Professor Yvette Roe leads a collaborative partnership that is transforming maternity care to promote the best start in life for First Nations children. The partnership is translating the successful Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting study into rural, remote and very remote settings.

A new patient-centred approach to caring for cancer survivors

Cancer survivors don’t always get the follow-up care they need, according to specialist cancer nurse Professor Raymond Chan. To fix this, Ray is trialling a new nurse-led clinic to coordinate shared care between hospitals and GPs. He hopes shared care will give survivors a better care experience.

Finding new drugs for depression in bipolar disorder

People with bipolar disorder are depressed for almost half their lives but there is no effective treatment. After searching drug profiles, psychiatrist Professor Michael Berk discovered the common high blood pressure drug candesartan could help. He is testing candesartan in a clinical trial.

Responding to ethical issues in genetics research

Professor Dianne Nicol is passionate about talking to the community about ethical, legal and social issues in genetics research. We asked Dianne about becoming an expert in this field and the most urgent issues in genetics research today.

Is human gene editing good for our health? A citizens’ jury speaks

Gene editing allows us to modify our genes. This can cure diseases. But it could also be used in the future to select for traits that give social or competitive advantages. Professor Nicol asked a citizens’ jury to decide under what circumstances we should allow human gene editing.

This clinical trial is testing a new cure for a deadly rare blood cancer

In 2018 Scott Griffiths developed a deadly rare blood cancer in his brain. He believed he was going to die. But a new precision medicine developed by his doctor Professor Maher Gandhi cured Scott. Maher is conducting a clinical trial to test if his new treatment works for other patients.

Engaging childhood brain cancer survivors

Over 90% of childhood brain cancer survivors develop life threatening and disabling health conditions after they finish cancer treatment. Engage is a consumer co-designed telehealth trial that helps these survivors manage their health and improve their quality of life.

The Big Picture: Helping our medical researchers turn discoveries into products to improve our health

It takes time and money to turn a scientific discovery into a medical product ready for use. To help medical researchers along this road, in 2017 the MRFF began funding medical research commercialisation. The Big Picture asks what impact our funds are having.

Using big data to find the best health care for older Australians

Big data is giving us a whole picture of Australia’s ageing pathways for the first time. Professor Maria Inacio is working with this data from the Registry of Senior Australians. She aims to find the best aged care and health care services for older Australians.

Discovering an Australian antiviral drug for COVID-19

In 2020, 5 Australian research organisations with expertise in infectious diseases and 2 industry partners formed a consortium. Their aim: to produce an Australian antiviral drug for COVID-19. This research is growing Australia’s ability to discover, test, and manufacture antiviral drugs.

Funnel-web spider venom may provide a new drug for heart attacks

Blocked arteries cause heart attacks by reducing oxygen flow to the heart. Called ischemia, this leads to the death of heart cells. These injuries are permanent and can cause the heart to fail. A new drug could prevent this damage.

National DNA screening could save lives for people with high-risk hereditary disease gene variants

The DNA Screen study offers free DNA screening for high-risk hereditary disease gene variants to 10,000 young Australians. When the study launched it received national media coverage. Over 20,000 people registered in the first 3 days. We asked lead researcher Paul Lacaze what happened next.

Preventing age-related vision loss

Optometrist researcher Lauren Ayton is improving diagnosis and treatment pathways for patients with age-related vision loss.

Keeping young children, families, and educators safe during a health crisis

Early childhood educators have the right skills to prevent infectious diseases and communicate health information fast to families with young children. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, staff struggled to find relevant health information.

Reducing the high rate of chronic kidney disease in First Nations communities

Indigenous-led research is using advanced multi-omics technology to reduce the high rate of chronic kidney disease in First Nations communities.

Supporting bushfire responders after the fires

The largest ever pre- and post-bushfire fighters survey asks how the Black Summer fires in 2019-20 impacts their mental health. The results: we are better supporting professional bushfire fighters, but our volunteers need more help.

Suicide prevention for boys and men

Boys and men are 3 times as likely to die by suicide in Australia than girls and women. The Buoy Project is testing 7 different suicide prevention programs that target boys and men. The aim is to find out which programs might be most effective in reducing male suicide.

Australia’s unique, ultra-early surgery trial to minimise stroke damage caused by bleeding in the brain

Jenni trained in stroke research after her dad had a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain. She is Associate Investigator and consumer adviser on a trial designed to reduce loss of function in survivors of this kind of stroke.

World-first discovery promises new therapy for injured or wasted muscle

Professor Peter Currie dedicated his research career to finding a treatment for incurable muscle injury and disease. In 2021 Peter’s research team published their discovery of a new biological substance needed for skeletal muscle healing. Peter thinks NAMPT could be the cure he’s been looking for.

Our Journey Our Story

Aboriginal-led research is implementing and evaluating the Debakarn Koorliny Wangkiny (Steady Walking and Talking) co-design framework. The aim is to improve mental health services for Aboriginal young people.

Music therapy eHealth supporting people with dementia

A music therapist and a human-computer interaction expert help carers use music to calm people with dementia.

Using artificial intelligence to stop antibiotic resistant superbug outbreaks in our hospitals

The SuperbugAI Flagship is developing a hospital tracking and response system to detect superbugs. The system will also support personalised treatment to improve patient survival and control outbreaks sooner.

Helping surgeons get all the cancer out the first time

New surgical probes will help surgeons to identify microscopic cancer tissue in real time. This ability to check they have removed all the cancer during the operation will reduce the need for repeat surgery.

Improving the speed and accuracy of emerging genomic technologies

Dr Ira Deveson’s ultra-fast COVID sequencing workflow made global media headlines. At the peak of the pandemic in 2020, Ira’s new workflow reduced COVID variant sequencing time from one week to 4 hours. This allowed authorities to quickly trace the sources of infections and stop them from spreading.

MRFF funding for Australians leading COVID-19 research

The Australian Government has made available $96 million for the national effort fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about some projects, supported by the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

Improving septic shock treatment

The international Pragmatic Pediatric Trial of Balanced vs NormaL Saline Fluid in Sepsis will compare two treatments commonly used to treat sepsis in children to compare their safety and effectiveness.

Leading the world in phenomics

Your phenome is a dynamic fingerprint of your unique biology. The Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) studies phenomes to better understand diseases and an individual’s disease risk.

Sound approach helps babies with hearing loss

Infants with hearing impairment can struggle to learn language and engage fully with the world around them. But a new clinical tool – EarGenie™ – promises to give them a head start soon after birth.

Breathing new life into neonatal research

A premature infant's lungs lack a critical chemical that allows them to 'open' or 'fill'. To address this issue, the largest ever respiratory intervention trial is now underway in delivery rooms across the world.

Genetic testing gives couples family planning choices

Mackenzie's Mission is a ground-breaking initiative which identifies the risk of having a child with a genetic condition.

Getting rid of childhood brain cancer

The Zero Childhood Cancer Personalised Medicine Program (ZERO) is helping to improve survival outcomes for kids most at risk.

Reducing clot complications

Blood clots in leg veins and lung arteries are a significant public health problem. A new international clinical trial will test the 2 drugs currently used for treatment to compare safety and complications.

Supporting MND patients to access innovative treatments

Researchers tested a drug that could help to treat Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Thanks to donors and almost $2 million in MRFF funding, the trial was run at 6 centres.
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