New alcohol research funding outside the box

A new and innovative approach to funding alcohol research projects in Australia aims to open up the field to new players and new sectors in an effort to unearth unique projects worthy of further exploration.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) today announced it will invest $300,000 in the 2013 Alcohol Research Grants Funding Round, which will see individual grants of up to $40,000 awarded to innovative research projects.

FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn says the research grants will encourage and enable emerging researchers from both within and outside the public health sector to test new ideas.

“Australia is an acknowledged leader in the field of alcohol policy research, but the reality is that alcohol research funding opportunities are not extensive and often go to the biggest players and the largest institutions. This innovative funding model allows us to engage with a diverse group of academics and researchers, not only from the traditional public health sphere, but importantly those in other fields such as criminal justice, and economics,” Mr Thorn said.

Since 2001 FARE has collaborated with a range of leading universities and institutes, and invested over $20 million to research that explores the extent and nature of alcohol harm in Australia. FARE is also the principal supporting partner of the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR), investing $5 million in the world class alcohol policy research institute.

The 2013 Alcohol Research Grants include funding for evaluations, and cross-sectoral research projects. The grants will provide an opportunity for researchers to work in new areas of research and develop pilot studies with a view to attracting greater funding and examine new trends.

FARE has a proud record of supporting such projects. A study into alcohol and energy drinks by Amy Pennay (CAPR) was only the second such qualitative study undertaken internationally, and developed and examined the possible regulatory response to this new emerging behaviour.

With FARE funding, the University of Newcastle developed and trialled an electronic screening and brief intervention (e-SBI) for alcohol use. The low cost pilot program was so successful that it attracted a National Health and Medical Research Centre Project Grant of over $350,000 to conduct a large clinical trial of e-SBI.

FARE also funded a Western Australian evaluation of what information and support was available for parents and carers of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Conducted by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, the study not only identified gaps in information and resources, but also identified what existing resources could be better shared in other jurisdictions.

Launching FARE’s latest Grants funding round, Michael Thorn praised Australia’s alcohol researchers as the best in the world and said the development of evidence-based alcohol policy is critical in the efforts to reduce alcohol related harms.

“FARE’s ongoing efforts and investment in alcohol policy research will enable governments to best identify the most effective policy measures to reduce the nation’s heavy alcohol toll,” Mr Thorn said.

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