11 April 2022

Welcome to Tracker, NHMRC’s fortnightly newsletter with the latest information on major activities and funding opportunities.

Research Excellence Awards

NHMRC’s annual awards recognising excellence in health and medical research were announced in Canberra on 30 March 2022.

The ceremony was attended by NHMRC’s Council Chair Professor Caroline Homer AO and members of NHMRC’s Council, including leading Australian researchers and chief health officers from across the nation.

Thirteen awards were presented recognising the top-ranked applicants to each of NHMRC’s major funding schemes during the past year.

This year’s awards include the newly named NHMRC David Cooper Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Award in honour of leading HIV/AIDS researcher Professor David Cooper AC FAA FAHMS (1949-2018).

Professor Cooper was an Australian clinical researcher and immunologist whose leadership of clinical trials in collaboration with affected communities made a lasting contribution to the treatment of HIV in Australia and around the world.

Read more about this year’s recipients on NHMRC’s website.

Investigator Grants

Advancing gender equity in Investigator Grants

NHMRC aims to support a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the Australian community and conducts the best research to improve the health of all. Informed by analysis and recent sector-wide webinars and in consultation with NHMRC’s Women in Health Science Committee and Research Committee, NHMRC is exploring options to address the gender disparity in funding outcomes in the Investigator Grant scheme.

NHMRC appreciates that any intervention will require careful analysis, detailed modelling, broad consultation and potentially significant changes to the grant guidelines. To allow time to undertake this work before the opening of the 2023 round of Investigator Grants, this round will now open in January 2023 (instead of August 2022 as previously planned). The funding commencement date will remain unchanged as 1 January 2024.

Over the next few months, NHMRC will work closely with the Women in Health Science and Research Committees on the options and intends to consult widely on proposed changes later in the year. This timing would enable any change to be reflected in the grant guidelines for the 2023 round.

Investigator Grants 2022 peer review update

The Investigator Grants 2022 round closed for applications on 23 March 2022 with 1416 applications submitted. The number of Investigator Grant applications submitted to the 2021 round was 1722.

The Suitability Survey and conflict of interest process for peer reviewers is underway and is due to be completed by 14 April 2022, with the assessment process to begin in May.

NHMRC’s CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO will host a peer reviewer briefing webinar and live Q&A session in late April before assessments commence. This briefing will help to familiarise Investigator Grant peer reviewers with the peer review process and provide reviewers with the opportunity to ask questions on NHMRC’s peer review policy. Details will be sent directly to peer reviewers shortly.

NHMRC’s peer review system seeks to ensure transparency, probity and fairness in identifying the highest quality research and researchers. Effective peer review relies on the participation of dedicated reviewers to assess applications carefully and fairly.

NHMRC sincerely appreciates and values the contribution that peer reviewers make to timely completion of this process and upholding NHMRC’s principles of peer review.

Relative to Opportunity policy/career context evaluation

NHMRC has conducted an evaluation of the approach to the assessment of Relative to Opportunity considerations trialled as part of the 2021 Investigator Grant round by surveying both applicants and peer reviewers for the scheme.

Responses to applicant and peer reviewer surveys indicated that information collected for Relative to Opportunity consideration was useful in applicants’ description and/or reviewers’ assessment of career circumstances.

These findings indicate that the revised approach to Relative to Opportunity consideration is mostly effective in achieving its objectives and intended outcomes. Feedback has helped identify opportunities for improvement.

Further information is on the NHMRC website.

Synergy Grants 2022- Application Close Date

The Synergy Grant scheme will close at 17:00 (AEST) on Wednesday 13 April 2022.

Potential peer reviewers will commence the process of completing their conflict of interest and suitability declarations within Sapphire shortly, ahead of assessments commencing in mid-May.

Further details are available on GrantConnect and the NHMRC website.

Please contact the Research Help Centre for further information or assistance.

Postgraduate Scholarship applicants: new user account registrations

The Postgraduate Scholarship scheme will open for applications on 13 April 2022.

In order to prepare for opening, applicants to the Postgraduate Scholarship scheme and their supervisors who do not yet have a Sapphire account should lodge their user request form with the Research Help Centre as soon as possible.

Applicants and their supervisors should allow up to 72 hours for account activation to occur.

Ideas Grants FAQ and round closing dates 

The final FAQ for NHMRC 2022 Ideas Grants scheme will be released no later than Wednesday 27 April, one week prior to scheme closing date of Wednesday 4 May 2022.

Researchers listed on applications must have a Sapphire account. New account requests should be submitted as soon as possible and at least 72 hours prior to application close. Any account activation processes started within 72 hours of the round close cannot be guaranteed to be actioned by NHMRC before close.

The Research Help Centre will continue to respond to technical enquiries (i.e. Sapphire related enquiries) until 13:00 (AEST) on 4 May 2022.

Further details are available on GrantConnect and the NHMRC website.

Please contact the Research Help Centre for further information or assistance.

Ideas Grants Minimum Data Compliance Checks

Following the Ideas Grants Minimum Data deadline on 6 April 2022, 2521 applications were entered into Sapphire. NHMRC is finalising Minimum Data compliance checks on the applications lodged, and applications that were non-compliant at Minimum Data will be notified via email.

Peer Review for Ideas Grants in 2022

Peer review for the Ideas Grant scheme is expected to run June-August 2022.

The Ideas Grants 2022 Peer Review Guidelines are also available on GrantConnect.

NHMRC is currently finalising membership requirements.  NHMRC is very appreciative of the willingness of the sector to make themselves available for peer review. Not everyone who expressed an interest can be appointed to participate. 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 May. Final appointments will be made after this process.

Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant opportunities

The following MRFF grant opportunities recently opened for applications:

2022 Australian Brain Cancer Research Infrastructure

  • Minimum data is due 24 August 2022
  • Applications close 7 September 2022

 
2022 Cardiovascular Health

  • Minimum data is due 24 August 2022
  • Applications close 7 September 2022

 
2022 Clinician Researchers: Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health

  • Minimum data is due 27 July 2022
  • Applications close 10 August 2022

 
2022 Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care

  • Minimum data is due 24 August 2022
  • Applications close 7 September 2022

 
2022 Effective Treatments and Therapies

  • Minimum data is due 13 July 2022
  • Applications close 27 July 2022

 
2022 International Clinical Trial Collaborations

  • Round 1: Minimum data is due 20 July 2022
  • Round 1: Applications close 3 August 2022
  • Round 2: Minimum data is due 8 February 2023
  • Round 2: Applications close 22 February 2023

 
2022 Multiple Sclerosis Research

  • Stream 1 and 2: Minimum data is due 18 January 2023
  • Stream 1 and 2: Applications close 1 February 2023
  • Stream 3 and 4: 16 November 2022
  • Stream 3 and 4: 30 November 2022

 
2022 Mitochondrial Donation Pilot Program

  • Minimum data close is due 31 August 2022
  • Applications close 14 September 2022

 
2022 Pancreatic Cancer Research

  • Stream 1: Minimum data is due 24 August 2022
  • Stream 1: Applications close 7 September 2022
  • Stream 2: Minimum data is due 23 November 2022
  • Stream 2: Applications close 7 December 2022

 
2022 Stem Cell Therapies

  • Minimum data is due 24 August 2022
  • Applications close 7 September 2022

    

Save the date! NHMRC's Research Translation Symposium

NHMRC’s Research Translation Symposium is back. It will be held 17 – 22 November 2022 as a hybrid online and in-person event.

The theme for the meeting and other details will be announced in the weeks and months ahead.


Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) Bill

The Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) Bill recently passed both houses of Parliament.

The Bill amends the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 and the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Act 2002 to allow the phased introduction of mitochondrial donation in Australia through a new licensing scheme.

Mitochondrial donation is an assisted reproduction technology which potentially will allow some women with mitochondrial disease to have children without the risk of transmitting serve mitochondrial disease to their children. NHMRC’s Embryo Research Licensing Committee will be the responsible authority for the licensing scheme.

More information is available on NHMRC’s website.

    

New NHMRC Impact Case Studies

NHMRC has published two new Impact Case Studies:

MoodGYM

The online program MoodGYM was developed to address barriers in treatment for depression by the Australian National University and funded by NHMRC.

The program effectively reduces symptoms of depression and has helped over one million people worldwide manage their mental health. It has been found to be a cost-effective alternative to conventional treatment, leading to greater accessibility and is widely recommended by Australian health professionals.

Find out more about this work in NHMRC’s new Impact Case Study: MoodGYM.

Improving Fertility

From the 1960s, NHMRC-funded researchers from Monash University began creating In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) technologies to assist women and men experiencing infertility.

Over three decades, these researchers pioneered advances that expanded the use of IVF technology into a robust medical procedure that is now used worldwide. These technologies have significantly improved the options available for those wishing to have a baby and today IVF is responsible for about 1 in 20 births in Australia.

Find out more about this work in NHMRC’s new Impact Case Study: Improving Fertility.

If you would like to discuss partnering with NHMRC to document your organisation’s work within an NHMRC case study, please contact the Impact Case Studies team.


Key Application Dates

Refer to the funding calendar on NHMRC's website.

Tracker

Previous editions of Tracker are available on NHMRC’s website.

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