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Medical Observer Australia

Health and Medical Research in Australia

Australia has punched above its weight in overall achievements in medical research over the years with such well-known inventions as:

  • Electronic Heart Pacemaker

  • Physiotherapy

  • Penicillin

  • Lithium

  • In Vitro Fertilisation

  • Bionic Ear

  • Aspro

  • Begg Orthodontics

  • Humidicrib

  • Microsurgery

  • Relenza

  • Spray-on-skin

  • Cervical Cancer Vaccine

  • And many more


Some of the above are very well known household names and may be found in the average medicine cabinet while other are extremely controversial such as the claimed “cervical cancer vaccine”.


According to Research Australia – Medical Research



$5.5 billion dollars was spent in medical research in Australia in 2010 to 2011.


The following may be of interest



Approximately one third (32.4%) of all research expenditure by the higher education sector is on health and medical research. For 2010-11, the estimate is $2.66 billion. 91% of all funds expended by higher education institutions is sourced from Commonwealth Government or the institutions’ own funds.

Source: ABS 8111.0, Research and Experimental Development, Higher Education Organisations, Australia 2010, Table 9 SEO Health ($2,657,700,000) divided by total expenditure ($8,202,999,000); Table 4, by source of funds.


Expenditure on health and medical research represents approximately 7% of total R&D spending by business. While specific data for H&MR is not available, in 2010-11 97% of all funds expended by businesses on research was sourced from their own or another business.

Source: 8104DO008_2011 Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia, 2010-11 Table 3 Estimate of Business H&MR (Human Pharmaceutical Products and Health- $1,219,735,000) divided by total expenditure ($17,879.661,000); ABS, Research and Experimental Development, Business, 8104.0 2010-11, Table 1.


The Private Non Profit Sector spent $743 million on R&D in 2008/09, of which $685 million (92.1%) was spent on the SEO of Health. It seems likely that the majority of this expenditure was by Medical Research Institutes that are independent of universities and other independent not for profit entities such as Cooperative Research Centres. Assuming the same proportion of 92.1%, and using the ABS estimate of 2010-11 Private Non Profit expenditure of $914 million, the private non-profit sector’s expenditure in 2010-11 on H&MR was $841 million.

Sources: ABS Research and Experimental Development, Government and Private Non- profit organisations, Australia 8109.0 2008-09 Table 2.3, ABS Research and Experimental Development, Business, 8104.0 2010-11, Appendix, page 38.”


For Further information, we suggest you visit Research Australia (


It does make you wonder if the total amount of money spent on medical research was simply applied to educating and supporting the uptake of good nutrition amongst the population, there may be better results in terms of the cost of health services being provided to a population largely unwell due to diet and lifestyle.