Australian First: Evidence to inform strategic investment in cancer research

Release Date

Cancer Australia has undertaken an audit to describe, for the first time, the breadth of cancer research funding in Australia, including the first national picture of career funding to cancer researchers, and the funding to build research capacity and infrastructure. 

Cancer Research in Australia: an overview of funding initiatives to support cancer research capacity in Australia has found that $1.77 billion was provided to Australian cancer researchers between 2006 and 2011.  The Australian Government was the largest contributor, providing over $1 billion in funding. 

Cancer Australia’s report found that between 2006 and 2011, funding has increased significantly across three main areas: research capacity and infrastructure; research projects and programs; and career funding for cancer researchers.  Specifically:

  • Career funding for cancer researchers in the form of Scholarships, Fellowships and Academic Cancer Research Chairs increased, with funding almost doubling from $33.6 million in 2006 to $66.2 million in 2011.
  • Total funding to support cancer research capacity and infrastructure has increased by almost 50%, from $53.5 million in 2006 to $79.4 million in 2011.
  • Total funding for cancer research projects and research programs has increased by 85%, from $116 million 2006 to $215 million in 2011.

Cancer Australia CEO, Professor Helen Zorbas highlighted the importance of cancer research in Australia.  “Cancer is the major cause of burden of disease in Australia.   One in two Australians will develop cancer before the age of 85, and the number of people diagnosed is predicted to continue to increase. 

“Australia is an international leader in cancer research.  For the first time, we have evidence to inform strategic, more targeted investment in cancer research.  This report helps us to identify opportunities to optimise Australian investment and deliver tangible health benefits to the community.”

The report identified that 91% of all grants and awards were funded by a single source, supporting strategic consideration of collaborative funding models, which can help to ensure future sustainability of cancer research funding in Australia. 

Opportunities also exist for international collaboration in the funding of cancer research, as the pattern of funding across the cancer research continuum was similar for Australia, Canada and the UK.  This common pattern of funding provides the foundation for national funders to direct and co-fund collaborative international research endeavours.

The national audit was made possible through the cooperation and provision of data by all major funders of cancer research in Australia. 

For more information, including the full report, highlights and summary go to Cancer Research in Australia

Media Enquiries can be directed to Amy Cook at (02) 9357 9401, 0438 209 833 or