New national diabetes centre will focus on commercial spin offs

Associate Professor Elif Ekinci

Melbourne will host a new research centre – the Australian Centre for Accelerating Diabetes Innovations (ACADI) – as part of the government’s strategy to commercialise medical research and channel funding into translation projects.

The centre, which will be led out of Melbourne University, will receive $10 million over the next four years from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to work with industry partners on research projects addressing diabetic kidney disease, peripheral neuropathy and diabetic foot syndrome, short-term complications of hypoglycaemia, hyperglycaemic hyperosmolar syndrome (HHS) and ketoacidosis.

ACADI will be led by endocrinologist Associate Professor Elif Ekinci, Head of Diabetes at Austin Health, who said the academic and industry partnership will allow the centre to progress 18 research projects.

“These projects will  lead to new health treatments therapeutics, interventions, devices and diagnostics and we will embed these innovations into clinical practice using leading-edge methods and models from implementation science, and an ongoing evaluation program to enable continuous enhancement of implementation strategies,” she said.

“Furthermore, ACADI will train future leaders, providing critical skills in clinical evaluation, translation and commercialisation and will be a place of new ideas intersecting with innovation in diabetes.”

The ACADI  Research Centre funding is part of the government’s Targeted Transition Research Accelerator (TTRA) Initiative, whose goal is to “promote the clinical and commercial translation of innovative therapeutics, diagnostics, devices and digital solutions” via contestable research project funding.

The initiative is being delivered by MTPConnect, an agency set up by the government to build stronger links between research and industry and promote the commercialisation of Australian scientific breakthroughs.

CEO Dr Dan Grant said workforce development was another key element of the new research centres such as ACADI.

“The future of our medical products sector depends on our skilled workforce and so, in addition to their research activities, each Research Centre will implement a training program to support students and early-to-mid career researchers and clinicians to strengthen partnerships across research, clinical and industry groups and drive better translation outcomes,” he said.

The TTRI is supporting another research centre, the Australian Stroke & Heart Research Accelerator (ASHRA), which will be led by Monash University.

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