29 June 2020

Tracker is a fortnightly email newsletter that informs the Australian research community about major NHMRC activities and funding opportunities.

Ideas Grants Applications Submitted at Close of Round
A total of 2,995 applications were submitted to the 2020 round. This is an increase from 2,739 applications submitted to the 2019 round.

Ideas Grants Peer Review Processes
In light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, NHMRC has made changes to how applications will be assessed in the 2020 Ideas Grants round. Please visit NHMRC’s website for details.
NHMRC is currently reviewing its membership requirements following the close of round. NHMRC appreciates the willingness of researchers to make themselves available for peer review.Not everyone who expressed an interest can be appointed to participate, as membership requirements depend on the number and spread of applications received, as well as the results of the conflict of interest and suitability survey results, which prospective members will be asked to complete in July. Final appointments will be made after this process.
NHMRC has asked this year’s invited assessors to provide their current peer review information via an email form. Some assessors may have previously updated their information in Sapphire, however we know that not all assessors are in the new system yet and not everyone’s profile will be up to date.As such, we are seeking this information to make sure we are working with current data.This allows for the best possible matching of applications to peer reviewers and is vital for the quality of peer review..
We have tried to make this process as streamlined and simple as possible (for example, values can be entered via dropdowns or copied and pasted from a list), so hopefully this should not take assessors any longer than a few minutes to complete and return to NHMRC. Thank you to those invited assessors who have already completed and returned this information. 

Open MRFF grant opportunities
The following MRFF grant opportunities are currently open for applications.

  • Coronavirus Research Response - 2020 COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Research Grant Opportunity. The Expression of Interest due dates for this grant opportunity are:
    • Round 1 closing date: 15 July 2020
    • Round 2 closing date: 11 November 2020
    • Round 3 closing date: 10 March 2021
  • Coronavirus Research Response - 2020 COVID-19 Mental Health Research Grant Opportunity. The application due date for this grant opportunity is 13 July 2020, with Minimum data due on 1 July 2020.
  • Coronavirus Research Response - 2020 COVID-19 Immunological Studies Grant Opportunity. The application due date for this grant opportunity is 23 July 2020, with Minimum data due on 9 July 2020.

Further information on MRFF grant opportunities can be found on the NHMRC website. Clinicians and researchers are invited to express their interest in assisting with the assessment of MRFF applications as a member of a grant assessment committee. Register your interest via the NHMRC online portal.

Postgraduate Scholarships
Applicants are reminded to consult the PGS 2020 Grant Guidelines for information on how to complete their application. The Grant Guidelines contain a checklist for applicants.

  • Supervisor Sapphire accounts
    NHMRC’s Research Help Centre (RHC) is experiencing a very high volume of new user account registration requests for Sapphire.

    Postgraduate Scholarship applicants are reminded that primary supervisors will need a Sapphire account to be invited to complete the supervisor’s report. Supervisors who do not yet have a Sapphire account must lodge their user request form with RHC no later than 5pm AEST Wednesday 1 July 2020. Failure to do so may result in the application not proceeding.

    It may take up to 72 hours for account activation to occur. Further information on Sapphire is available here.
  • Placeholder text
    Applicants are reminded that placeholder text in ‘Title’ or ‘Synopsis’ fields will not be accepted.
  • File Naming convention
    Applicants are required to follow the formatting and naming conventions outlined at Table 1, Appendix D of the PGS 2020 Grant Guidelines
  • Supervisor Reports
    Supervisors are reminded to check supervisor reports before submitting. Once submitted, changes to the supervisor report will not be accepted. 

NHMRC thanks all involved in the NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research
The NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research (NNIDR) will close on 30 June 2020 after a successful five years supporting the Australian dementia research sector and assisting with the delivery of the Australian Government’s Boosting Dementia Research Initiative (BDRI). NNIDR was delivered in partnership with Dementia Australia and we thank and acknowledge the effort and commitment of Dementia Australia, NNIDR staff, dementia researchers, consumers, carers, clinicians and those living with dementia for their engagement and contributions to dementia research.

Information about NHMRC’s continued support for dementia research can be found on the NHMRC website.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Roadmap for Dementia Research and Translation
NHMRC welcomes the release of NNIDR’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Roadmap for Dementia Research and Translation.
The Roadmap’s vision is to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at risk of developing or living with dementia, together with their carers, families and communities. The Roadmap provides guidance to government, researchers, industry and philanthropy on Australia’s dementia research strategy and priorities.
The Roadmap was developed at the request of NHMRC’s Principal Committee Indigenous Caucus (PCIC) to address the challenge of dementia within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. NHMRC looks forward to championing the Roadmap’s principles and priorities at every opportunity, as well as monitoring its implementation going forward.
The full roadmap and roadmap launch video can be downloaded here.

Public consultation on updated guidance on the radiological quality of drinking water
NHMRC is seeking public feedback on updated guidance that provides advice on the radiological quality of drinking water. Sections of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines that have been updated are Chapters 7 and 10, Information Sheet 2.2 and fact sheets on radium, alpha and beta radionuclides, radon-222 and a subsection of the uranium fact sheet. Submissions will close 4pm (AEST) 12 August 2020. For further information visit the public consultation website.

New impact case studies
NHMRC, in partnership with researchers from the University of Queensland’s School of Public Health, has developed two new case studies relating to the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s health (ALSWH):

  1. The International collaboration for a life course approach to women’s reproductive health and chronic disease events (InterLACE) case study describes a research collaboration involving investigators on women’s health studies from more than ten countries. Findings from the study have helped inform clinical practice and health policy.
  2. The Mothers and their children’s health (MatCH) case study describes research into family health and health service use. MatCH has delivered a number of key findings including advice for health professionals about pre-pregnancy health screening for women of child-bearing age.

Both case studies are available from the Impact Case Study page on NHMRC’s website.

Key application dates

Funding scheme

Open date

Minimum data due

Applications close

GACD- Cancer Prevention Call




Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants




Special Initiative in Mental Health




2020 Partnership Projects PRC1




Postgraduate Scholarships




MRFF Coronavirus Research Response - 2020 COVID-19 Mental Health Research Grant Opportunity




MRFF Coronavirus Research Response - 2020 COVID-19 Immunological Studies Grant Opportunity




2020 Partnership Projects PRC2




*NB schemes are in order of opening dates