What is an Advanced Health Research Translation Centre?

Academic Health Science Centres (AHSCs), as they’re called outside of Australia, were established decades ago in the United States, and have rapidly spread throughout the UK, Europe and parts of Asia. AHSCs involve a partnership between a group of major secondary/tertiary healthcare providers and a university, with an aim to enhance patient outcomes achieved through education, research and clinical service. The Centres strive to create environments whereby the benefits of research excellence are felt by patients and the broader healthcare sector.

Our model of an Advanced Health Research Translation Centre

US and UK AHSCs are traditionally owned and managed by universities, however the Australian system of Advanced Health Research Translation Centres (AHRTCs) operates differently. The University of Melbourne, along with its partner hospitals and many medical research institutes, have previously established strong associations that enable collaboration, joint appointments and joint grant applications, along with embedded clinical schools in major hospitals. Therefore, a traditional approach to an AHRTC would in many ways duplicate these existing structures.

As an AHRTC, the Melbourne Academic Centre for Health (MACH) distinguishes itself from traditional structures of AHSCs by approaching the goal of enhanced patient outcomes from a system perspective. Rather than commence with an explicit focus on specific diseases, the projects within the MACH are relevant to all members. The members work collectively to identify systemic problems, from primary health care through to quaternary care. Once these issues have been identified, suitable solutions based on the translation of research are proposed, to be later trialled using specific disease responses, utilising the full research strength of the MACH members. This approach allows for research to enable systemic reform, ensuring that the ability for research translation and immediate positive patient care are at the forefront of its principal outcomes.

The MACH works in conjunction with six other AHRTCs and three Centres for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRHs) across Australia under the umbrella organisation of the Australian Health Research Alliance (AHRA) to deliver the vision of the NHMRC for its designated translation centres:

To encourage leadership and collaboration in health research and translation in Australia by bringing together researchers, healthcare providers, education and training to improve the health and well-being of patients and the population they serve, including in regional/remote areas.