15 December 2023

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is investing $379 million to support 216 emerging and established leaders in health and medical research across Australia to tackle the nation’s greatest health challenges as announced today by the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP.

Researchers and their teams will share in over $379 million of funding through NHMRC’s largest funding scheme — Investigator Grants.

The scheme provides the highest-performing researchers at all career stages with consolidated funding for their salary (if required) and a significant research support package for 5 years.

Among recipients of Investigator Grant funding announced today are:

  • Laureate Professor Roger Smith from the University of Newcastle, who is developing a combination drug treatment to block pathways to premature contractions, with the aim of stopping the clock on premature births in Australia.
  • Professor Elina Hypponen from the University of South Australia, who is strengthening the evidence about the role diet has on health and, more specifically, on early dementia-related changes in the brain.
  • Dr Ram Bhusal from Monash University, who is hijacking the natural defence provided through the saliva produced by ticks to help unlock better ways to flight inflammation with the aim of developing a new generation of improved anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Professor Clare Parish from the University of Melbourne, who is advancing the use of human stem cells with the aim of developing new therapies for the treatment of neurological conditions.

As the Australian Government's lead agency for funding health and medical research, NHMRC is committed to achieving gender equity in its grant program.

This was the first Investigator Grant round to apply new gender equity targets.

With the support of the Albanese Government, NHMRC set targets to award equal numbers of Leadership grants to women and men in the Investigator Grant scheme in a commitment to address gender inequities in health and medical research funding.

This target was introduced as a special measure under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 following a national consultation in 2022.

This is the first year since the launch of the scheme in 2019 where female applicants will receive an overall greater proportion of the funds, compared to male applicants.

These grants will provide flexibility to pursue important new research directions as they arise, adjust resources accordingly, and to form collaborations as needed, rather than being restricted to the scope of a specific research project.

Full details of the Investigator Grant recipients can be found on NHMRC’s outcomes webpage.

Quotes attributable to NHMRC CEO, Professor Steve Wesselingh: 

  • 'A key strength of the Investigator Grant Scheme is that it supports all researchers across all areas of health and medical research and at every career stage.'
  • 'The projects receiving funding as part of today’s announcement demonstrate the significant innovations through health and medical research in Australia and how researchers can harness their skills and knowledge to produce revolutionary science.'
  • 'The changes this year saw more women and non-binary researchers apply for, and win, these significant grants.'
  • 'We look forward to witnessing improved gender equity at the most senior levels of Australian health and medical research in the years ahead, and reduced need for further intervention.'