Burnet Institute has been cited as an exemplar in health and medical research in an editorial in The Age advocating vigorous and ongoing investment in science in Australia.
The Age singled out Burnet for the excellence of its work in sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, infectious diseases and immunisation, and ways to alleviate the harms caused by alcohol and drug abuse.
“Researchers there (Burnet) have just announced they have identified a way that the human body’s immune system utilises proteins to help prevent malaria parasites from infecting red blood cells,” the editorial noted.
“Discoveries such as this can form important steps in the long path to finding vaccines to target diseases, such as malaria, which kill so many people in vulnerable communities around the world.”
The Melbourne-based Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, which is in its centenary year, was also praised for its research into cancer, immune disorders and infectious diseases.
The Age acknowledged Australia’s “quiet achievers” in science and research, who have inspired and directed young minds to probe the mysteries of the world around them.
“Research, by its nature, requires patience and endurance,” said the editorial.
“It also requires funds, and while philanthropy goes some way to paying the bills of the luckier, high-profile institutions, many of Australia’s much smaller scientific research facilities simply would not survive without government assistance.”
The editorial criticised the linking of $150 million in research funding with proposals to deregulate university fees.
“Research should not be predicated on such whims,” The Age stated.
“Australia could be a much wealthier and potentially more broadly based economy in future if governments today openly and generously supported scientific research by injecting more funds into the sector.
“The funding might need to be more targeted, but it should not be infected by political ambition. Rather, the dictates should be based on science and on commercial prospects for success.
“Research generates jobs. It is not an extravagance. It should not be used as a bargaining chip to be traded for short-term political gains.”