Evaluation of the impact of National Breast Cancer Foundation-funded research

Med J Aust. 2014 Mar 3;200(4):214-8. doi: 10.5694/mja13.10798.


Objective: To evaluate the impact of the National Breast Cancer Foundation's (NBCF's) research investment.

Design and participants: Surveys based on the Payback Framework were sent to chief investigators involved in research funded by the NBCF during 1995-2012; a bibliometric analysis of NBCF-funded publications in 2006-2010 was conducted; and a purposive, stratified sample of case studies was obtained.

Main outcome measures: Research impact on knowledge production, the research system, informing policy, product development and broader health and economic benefits.

Results: Of 242 surveys sent, 153 (63%) were returned. The average impact of journals in which NBCF publications appeared was double that of world publications. Seventy surveys (46%) reported career progression, and 185 higher degrees were obtained or expected, including 121 PhDs. One hundred and one grants (66%) produced tools that built capacity across the research system, and research teams leveraged an additional $1.40 in funding for every dollar invested. Fifteen applied grants and one basic grant impacted on policy. Ten basic and four applied grants led to the development of drugs, prognostic tools or diagnostic technologies. Twenty applied and two basic grants led to changes in practice and behaviour of health care staff, consumers and the public, with further impacts anticipated. Case studies provided illustrations of high impact.

Conclusions: NBCF's strategy of investing in a mixed portfolio of research areas and mechanisms encouraged a broad range of impacts across all Payback categories. The impacts from basic research tended to focus on knowledge production and drug development; while applied research generated greater impacts within the other Payback categories. The funding of shared infrastructure stimulated impact across the research system.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Bibliometrics*
  • Biomedical Research / economics*
  • Biomedical Research / statistics & numerical data
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / economics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Capacity Building / economics
  • Capacity Building / statistics & numerical data
  • Career Mobility
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Education, Graduate / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Foundations* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Research / economics
  • Health Services Research / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation
  • Research Personnel / economics
  • Research Personnel / education
  • Research Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Research Support as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / economics
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / statistics & numerical data