AHRA’s goal is to accelerate the pace and scale of research translation into health care and community health by supporting and connecting all phases of the research journey so that innovations and discoveries are implemented as soon as possible.

Working through AHRA, Australia’s accredited Research Translation Centres aim to work across state and territory boundaries and improve healthcare for all Australians.

In 2015, Melbourne Academic Centre for Health (MACH) was recognised by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) as one of the first four Research Translation Centres (previously called Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres (AHRTCs)) in Australia. These Centres are based on the Academic Health Science Centre model that has been successful in the US, UK and across Europe in bringing together academia and healthcare to accelerate the translation of research into clinical care.

What is a 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 a Research Translation Centre

US and UK AHSCs are traditionally owned and managed by universities, however the Australian system of Research Translation Centres (RTCs) operates differently. The University of Melbourne, along with its partner hospitals and 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 RTC would in many ways duplicate these existing structures.

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 MACH are relevant to all or many 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.

MACH works in conjunction with ten other RTCs and three Emerging RTCs 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.