17 January 2022

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

Principal Committees for 2021–2024

The Australian Government has announced the membership of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Principal Committees for 2021–2024. 

Professor Emily Banks AM will Chair the new Health Research Impact Committee, which will play a key role in advising NHMRC on strategies to promote and measure the impact of health research, including research in basic science, public health, clinical and health services and research to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Professor Steve Wesselingh will continue as Chair of Research Committee, which advises on the distribution of funding and policies for the NHMRC grant program and on the scope and quality of health and medical research in Australia.

Professor Ingrid Winship AO will continue as Chair of the Australian Health Ethics Committee, which advises on ethical issues in health and on the development of health research guidelines. 

Additionally, Professor Dianne Nicol has been re-appointed as Chair of the Embryo Research Licensing Committee, which regulates research activities that involve the use of human embryos. 

Together with the new Council, chaired by Professor Caroline Homer AO, NHMRC’s Principal Committees will support NHMRC in its mission of building a healthy Australia.

The full list of Principal Committee members for the 2021-2024 triennium is available on NHMRC’s website.

NHMRC grant announcements

NHMRC welcomes the following recent grant announcements by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt. 

Investigator Grants 2022 

The Investigator Grant scheme will open for applications on Wednesday 19 January 2022.

The Investigator Grants 2022 Guidelines and Peer Review Guidelines will be made available on GrantConnect and NHMRC’s website respectively, when the scheme opens.

Key changes to the 2022 Investigator Grant round will be outlined in section 2.1 of the Grant Guidelines. 

Information regarding the recently announced changes to publication assessment in track record is available on NHMRC's website.

Due to the current planned Sapphire outage, the 2022 Investigator Grant application form will not become available until access to Sapphire is restored (expected Friday 21st January 2022).

Prior to Sapphire access being restored, researchers and RAOs are encouraged to review the Sapphire training materials and frequently asked questions from the Sapphire Help webpage.

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

Partnership Projects 2022 grant opportunity

The Partnership Project scheme will have three peer review cycles (PRCs) in 2022:

PRC 1 opened on 12 January 2022 
PRC 2 will open on 24 March 2022 
PRC 3 will open on 28 July 2022.

Further details are available below in ‘Key application dates’ and on GrantConnect.

PRC 1 application forms will be available following the planned Sapphire outage in January. NHMRC will notify the sector when the application form is available in Sapphire.

Partnership Projects 2022 funding with other organisations

In addition to partner organisations identified in the Partnership Projects 2022 Guidelines (section 4.4), applicants to Partnership Projects 2022 may select the following funding opportunity from the Department of Health:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Obesity Prevention Research special initiative. This special initiative provides the opportunity for community organisations that are contributing to health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to develop a relationship with a researcher to strengthen the evidence in FASD and obesity research.  

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

European Union Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) 

NHMRC is participating in the latest European Union Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) funding call, “Understanding the mechanisms of non-pharmacological interventions”.

NHMRC will support Australian researchers participating in international collaborations in neurodegenerative disease research. 
The focus of this call is on improving the understanding of the mechanisms and biological substrates that underlie non-pharmacological interventions in order to tailor a holistic personalised treatment approach.

Interested parties are referred to the JPND website for further information.

Changes to publication assessment

NHMRC has made changes to publication assessment in its track record-based schemes.

From 2022, researchers applying for NHMRC funding through its track record-based schemes will be asked to list up to 10 of their top publications in the past 10 years (accounting for career disruptions).

The full list of applicant publications from the past 10 years will no longer be provided to peer reviewers for their assessment.

This will help to ensure that assessment of publication track record focuses on the quality and contribution to science rather than the quantity of publications.

This change follows consultation with the sector and a clear move in the academic community toward measuring quality, rather than quantity, of an individual’s research output.

Find out more in the NHMRC Communique on our website.

NHMRC Impact Case Studies

NHMRC has published two new Impact Case Studies: 

A revolution in protein sequencing: Over the past century, biomedical research has revealed that proteins are of central importance to disease and healthy human functioning. This case study, which was developed in partnership with St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research (SVI), describes how NHMRC-funded researchers at SVI revolutionised the sequencing of proteins. 

Saving blood, saving lives: The Patient Blood Management Guidelines were developed following increasing evidence of transfusion-related adverse outcomes, leading to the emergence of new practices, including restrictive transfusion strategies and the increased use of alternatives to transfusion in the management of anaemia. This case study was produced in partnership with the National Blood Authority.

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

NHMRC Investigating Clinician Researcher Career Pathways report released

Clinician researchers are people who combine a career in clinical practice with a career in research. They are an important part of Australia’s health system and work across the spectrum of medicine, allied health, nursing, and midwifery, yet we know comparatively little about them.

This research, the first of its type in Australia, shows that three quarters of the people surveyed found it difficult to pursue the research career pathway that they desired. It provides important insights into when clinicians choose to start researcher career, the barriers to maintaining that career and the supports that help them. The research also highlights areas where Australian data needs to improve so that career paths can be supported more effectively.

You can find NHMRC’s Investigating Clinician Researcher Career Pathways report on NHMRC’s website. 

Medical Research Future Fund – Grant Opportunities recently opened for applications 

The following Medical Research and Future Fund (MRFF) grant opportunities recently opened ¬for applications:

2021 Brain Cancer Research

Minimum data is due by 20 April 2022.
Applications close on 4 May 2022.

2021 Chronic Neurological Conditions

Minimum data is due by 23 February 2022.
Applications close on 9 March 2022.
2021 Chronic Respiratory Conditions

Minimum data is due by 29 June 2022.
Applications close on 13 July 2022.

2021 Clinical Trials Activity

Minimum data is due by 22 June 2022.
Applications close on 6 July 2022.

2021 Consumer-Led Research

Minimum data is due by 29 June 2022.
Applications close on 13 July 2022.

2021 Early to Mid-Career Researchers

Minimum data is due by 29 June 2022.
Applications close on 13 July 2022.

2021 Indigenous Health Research

Minimum data is due by 16 February 2022.
Applications close on 2 March 2022.

2022 MRFF Joint Transnational Call – forecast opportunity

2021 Maternal Health and Healthy Lifestyles

Minimum data is due by 29 June 2022.
Applications close on 13 July 2022.

2021 Optimising the Clinical Use of Immunoglobulins 

Minimum data is due by 16 February 2022.
Applications close on 2 March 2022.

2021 Primary Health Care Digital Innovations 

Minimum data is due by 29 June 2022.
Applications close on 13 July 2022.

Refer to the funding calendar for all opened MRFF grant opportunities.

Details on how to apply for MRFF grant opportunities and close dates are available on GrantConnect.

Further information on MRFF grant opportunities can be found on NHMRC’s website

Applicants who intend to submit applications to MRFF grant opportunities should ensure that:

•    their organisation is an approved MRFF Eligible Organisation before the relevant application’s close date
•    they have an active Sapphire account, or request access to Sapphire as soon as possible
•    the participating institutions they intend to list in their application are available in Sapphire
•    if a participating institution is not available, please email Research Help Centre, include the URL and request it be added to the system. 

MRFF Application Eligibility Criteria and Compliance Checking

Applications must address all of the eligibility and assessment criteria as set out in the guidelines.

Applicants are requested to pay careful attention to Chief Investigator (CI) eligibility including limits that are in place on the number of times a person can be named as a CI on applications submitted to a grant opportunity. Please refer to the eligibility section of the relevant grant opportunity guidelines. To assist with this eligibility checking process, RAOs can access a CI Application Count Dashboard on Sapphire’s tutorial page (see Institution/Our Applications/CI - Application Count Dashboard).

Eligibility checking of applications submitted to the 2021 Indigenous Health Research grant opportunity will use information in the application and the Chief Investigator’s Sapphire Profile (refer section 3.1 of the grant guidelines). Applicants are advised to check the relevant information in their Sapphire Profile prior to submission. 

Eligibility to Receive MRFF Funding Administered by NHMRC - MRFF Eligible Organisations 

A new process has been implemented for applying for MRFF funding administered by NHMRC. In accordance with Section 24 of the Medical Research Future Fund Act 2015, only bodies of the following types are eligible to receive MRFF funding:

  • a medical research institute
  • a university
  • a corporate Commonwealth entity
  • a corporation.

The new process allows an organisation of the types listed above to be approved as an MRFF Eligible Organisation and then be eligible to apply for MRFF funding administered by NHMRC. For more information visit NHMRC’s website.

MRFF Grant Assessment Committee Self Nomination

Researchers, consumers, clinicians and health practitioners, as well as those in industry, policy or who manage health services 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 NHMRC’s online portal.

Key application dates

Refer to the funding calendar on NHMRC's website.


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

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