1 September 2022

NHMRC welcomes today’s announcement by the Australian Government of outcomes of the 2022 Centres of Research Excellence scheme.

Fourteen new Centres of Research Excellence will be funded with a total of $35 million, including the Centre for Safe Air that will address the health effects of air pollution, such as bushfire smoke.

Each Centre of Research Excellence receives $2.5 million over five years.

Centres bring together some of Australia’s best health and medical researchers in collaborations to explore and develop new solutions to significant health problems.

They support clinical, health services and public health research that aims to improve health outcomes for Australians and promote the translation of research outcomes into policy and/or practice.

The Centre for Safe Air will be led by air pollution researcher Professor Fay Johnston at the University of Tasmania. 

The Centre for Safe Air will bring together experts, policy makers and consumers to create innovative solutions to protect community health in the face of existing and escalating airborne threats such as allergens, traffic emissions and smoke. These hazards cause a substantial health burden by contributing to diseases of the lungs, heart and brain. The Centre will also address the threat of bushfire smoke, an issue where research and policy responses remain fragmented across health and environmental fields.  

Professor Johnston led a team that collected data on the average number of emergency department admissions, hospitalisations and deaths in the year of the unprecedented 2019-2020 bushfires, revealing the scale of the health impact of the bushfire smoke.

Also funded is a Centre of Research Excellence focused on eradicating food allergy led by Associate Professor Kirsten Perrett who is Co-Group Leader of the Population Allergy Research Group and Deputy Director of the Melbourne Children's Trials Centre, Murdoch Children's Research Institute.

Australia is reported to have the world’s highest rate of food allergy. The Centre is testing strategies to prevent food allergy through clinical trials, with the aim of reducing the number of children developing allergies, understanding how best to treat and manage allergy to improve the lives of those living with food allergy, and rapidly transferring research findings into public health policy and clinical practice changes.

Three of the new Centres of Research Excellence are focused on improving health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

“The 14 Centres of Research Excellence announced today focus on health issues of profound significance for patients and communities,” said NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO.

“The Centre for Safe Air is an example of Australia’s researchers responding to the health needs of our time. The pall of smoke from the 2019-2020 bushfires will live in the memory of many Australians for years to come. 

“NHMRC’s Centres of Research Excellence are an important part of the health and medical research system in Australia. They bring together the best and brightest researchers who work collaboratively to find innovative and practical solutions for better health.”

Centres of Research Excellence announced today are:

Chief Investigator  Title Administering Institution Budget
Associate Professor Tamera Corte  CRE for Interstitial Lung Disease - towards Individualised Care University of Sydney $2,500,000
Professor Rachelle Buchbinder  Australia and New Zealand Musculoskeletal (ANZMUSC) Clinical Trials Network  Monash University $2,500,000
Professor Jeannette Milgrom  Science Translation for e-Psychological Perinatal Supports (STePPS CRE) Institute for Breathing and Sleep $2,500,000
Professor Richard Lindley  A Centre of Research Excellence to Accelerate Stroke Trial Innovation and Translation  University of Sydney $2,500,000
Professor Angela Morgan Translational Centre for Speech Disorders Murdoch Children's Research Institute $2,500,000
Professor Susan Cotton  The Centre of Research Excellence in Bipolar Disorder (CORE-BD) University of Melbourne $2,500,000
Professor John Wakerman  CRE for STrengthening Health Systems in Remote Australia (CRESTRA) Menzies School of Health Research $2,500,000
Professor James Ward Centre of Research Excellence in Urban Indigenous Health University of Queensland $2,500,000
Professor Ruth Hubbard  Frailty ADD: Improving Hospital Outcomes for Frail Patients Across Different Disciplines University of Queensland $2,500,000
Professor Iona Novak DRIVE CP: Directing Research In Very Early Cerebral Palsy University of Sydney $2,500,000
Professor Fay Johnston  Centre for Safe Air University of Tasmania $2,500,000
Professor Tony Butler  Violence Perpetration: Profiling, Prediction and Prevention University of New South Wales $2,500,000

Associate Professor Kirsten Perrett 

Towards eradicating food allergy: from population to precision prevention, early intervention and management Murdoch Children's Research Institute $2,500,000
Professor Karen Canfell  Centre for Research Excellence in Cervical Cancer Control (C4) University of Sydney $2,500,000
  TOTAL $35,000,000