6 Dec 2019

Monash researcher honoured by national advocacy role

Associate Professor Christoph Hagemeyer (left)
and outgoing ASMR president Dr Roger Yazbek.
Follow @cehagemeyer, @TheASMR1 
by Anne Crawford

Monash University’s Associate Professor Christoph Hagemeyer has been elected president of the Australia Society for Medical Research (ASMR), the peak professional body representing all national health and medical researchers.

A/Prof Hagemeyer, who heads the NanoBiotechnology Laboratory at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD), took over the presidency at the ASMR’s recent National Scientific Conference in Perth in November.

The ASMR, which has a long-established role in scientific, political and public advocacy, represents 20,000 health and medical researchers from 75 affiliated professional societies, institutes and medical colleges.

“The ASMR has a long history of educating government, through evidence, about the health and economic benefits of medical research, to raise community awareness and enthusiasm for research and to support Australia’s research community,” A/Prof Hagemeyer said.

“The society has been instrumental in the previous doublings of the budget of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in 1999 and 2006. Currently, we are advocating for an urgently needed immediate increase of $400 million to the NHMRC, to gradually committing 3% of total health expenditure to medical research and to improving transparency and governance of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF),” he said.

“This will ensure medical research is adequately supported in this country and we can stay internationally competitive.”

A/Prof Hagemeyer said he felt “honoured, excited and terrified at the same time” to be elected president. “The immediate past president Dr Roger Yazbek has been working with ASMR for over 10 years including three times as president so these are big shoes to fill.”

Dr Yazbek had passed on some of his extensive knowledge of science advocacy since Associate Professor Hagemeyer joined the ASMR board in 2018, “so together with an outstanding board of 10 directors, I feel well prepared to drive ASMR’s agenda forward next year.

“I think we can all agree that medical research needs more funding. While the MRFF has been a welcome boost for the sector, it is targeted at the clinical end of the research continuum and support for the critically important fundamental discovery science via the NHMRC has been stagnant for years,” he said.

Australia currently spends just over 0.5% of total health expenditure on medical research.

A/Prof Hagemeyer said that during his term as ASMR president, he hoped to increase the visibility of medical research, meet with many politicians and stakeholders and “convince them that Australia has to fast-track its transition from a natural resources focused nation to one that is knowledge and innovation savvy so it will continue to prosper in the future.

“Having spent the first 35 years of my life in Germany, a research powerhouse with very little natural resources, I know first-hand that funding for research and technology is one of the best investments government can make. We know that in Australia each $1 of medical research funding returns over $3 in health and economic benefits so increasing support to 3% of total health expenditure will not only improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians but also provide substantial economic benefits,” he said.


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