Backing Our Brightest Medical Researchers

Medical breakthroughs using artificial intelligence to more reliably detect skin cancer and smartphone technology that assesses mental health could be just around the corner, thanks to funding from the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy today announced the 30 innovative projects receiving funding to fast-track them from research to reality – which will mean better treatment for patients in Victoria and across the world.

The Labor Government’s $3 million Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund is in its second round, more than doubling the projects it will support after funding 13 pioneering projects in 2017.

In one project, Dr Victoria Mar is leading a Monash University team looking at the accuracy of artificial intelligence systems diagnosing skin cancer. If found to be accurate, AI has the potential to save lives by enabling more people to be checked, and referring people with suspicious moles to dermatologists earlier.

Professor Reeva Lederman’s team at the University of Melbourne is also using AI and smartphones to help young people predict their mental health and get support when they need it – using devices to crunch data and provide early warning signals to seek help – monitoring things like increased pulse, shortness of breath and lack of sleep.

Other grant recipients are looking at technology that could detect drug resistant superbugs, and brain implants that allow people with Motor Neurone Disease to control a robotic limb through direct thought.

The Victorian Research Acceleration Fund is part of the Labor Government’s $20 million plan to ensure Victoria stays a world leader in ground-breaking health and medical research that has the power to change lives.

The plan, Healthier Lives, Stronger Economy: Victoria’s Health and Medical Research Strategy 2016-20, outlines our key priorities to support new and evolving fields of world class medical research.

It provides the potential for the creation of new business opportunities, job and economic growth across Victoria and enhances Victoria’s reputation as a world leader in health and medical research.

Submission for round 3 of the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund open later this month, closing at the end of October.

For a full list of winners, please visit health.vic.gov.au/victorian-medical-research-acceleration-fund.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“Victoria is home to some of the world’s brightest medical minds who are saving lives with their ground-breaking discoveries.”

“We started this fund to ensure projects that have the potential to save lives across the world don’t get held up because they couldn’t attract early funding.”