18 October 2021

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

Science to art: Research behind the science behind the image

Professor Frédéric Hollande is Deputy Head at the Department of Clinical Pathology, University of Melbourne, and a group leader at the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research. He’s also behind the image recognised in the Science to Art NHMRC Biennial Award.

He is seeking to better understand the diverse cellular and molecular make-up of liver metastases from patients with metastatic bowel cancer. To do so, his team has developed innovative research models, including mini-tumours (organoids) grown in the laboratory from chemotherapy-naïve liver metastases. 

“Part of my work is also dedicated to the identification of molecules (biomarkers) that can be used to predict response to these new drugs before treatment has begun, allowing the personalisation of treatment by channelling patients towards the drug they are most likely to respond to.,” said Professor Hollande. 

“We really hope that our findings will empower clinicians by guiding their treatment decisions and providing them with new treatment combinations to prolong the survival of bowel cancer patients.”

To read more about the extraordinary research Professor Hollande and his team are working on visit NHMRC’s website.

NHMRC Funding Scheme Dates 

NHMRC sought feedback from the sector on proposed funding scheme dates for 2022 and has now released planned dates taking into account the following key considerations:

•    Addressing sector feedback seeking more separation between Investigator Grants and Ideas Grants rounds
•    Minimising overlap of review periods, application preparation and submission dates across NHMRC’s four largest funding schemes
•    Providing the earliest possible notification of outcomes
•    Aiming to reduce peer review burden over time
•    Avoiding national and school holidays, as well as key international conference periods, wherever possible
•    Taking into account NHMRC capability to deliver proposed timelines.

NHMRC’s planned funding scheme dates

2022 Investigator Grants | Open 19 Jan 2022 | Minimum Data 16 Feb 2022 | Close 16 Mar 2022
2022 Synergy Grants | Open 16 Feb 2022 | Minimum Data 16 Mar 2022 | Close 13 Apr 2022
2022 Ideas Grants | Open 9 Mar 2022 | Minimum Data 6 Apr 2022 | Close 4 May 2022
2022 Development Grants | Open 20 Apr 2022 | Minimum Data 18 May 2022 | Close 15 Jun 2022
2022 CTCS Grants | Open 29 Jun 2022 | Minimum Data 27 Jul 2022 | Close 24 Aug 2022
2023 Investigator Grants (TBD) | Open 17 Aug 2022 | Minimum Data 14 Sep 2022 | Close 12 Oct 2022

Background and further context 

The most significant adjustment is to the 2023 Investigator Grants round, which will open soon after the conclusion of the 2022 Investigator Grants round, in a move to have outcomes prior to the 2023 Ideas Grants round. Other 2023 dates have not yet been set.

NHMRC sought to move towards providing Investigator Grants outcomes before the 2021 Ideas Grants round, but the impacts of COVID-19 delayed this implementation. The recently announced timelines will not enable 2022 Investigator Grants outcomes prior to the 2022 Ideas Grants, however, our proposed 2023 schedule demonstrates NHMRC’s commitment to addressing the sector feedback on this issue.

In order to provide Investigator Grants outcomes prior to the 2022 Ideas Grants round, the 2021 and 2022 Investigator Grants rounds would need to overlap. For a number of reasons this was not feasible and as such, the proposed schedule aims to achieve this objective for the 2023 grant rounds.

While we note that the proposed timelines are not able to accommodate all aims, the 2022 and 2023 scheme dates balance considerations where practicable and map out a pathway to provide 2023 Investigator Grants outcomes prior to the 2023 Ideas Grants round.

Researchers are strongly encouraged to start planning their applications early. This includes:

•    All current account holders to log in and update their profile in Sapphire.
•    New users registering for a Sapphire account well in advance of the opening dates to complete their profile.
•    Becoming familiar with the Sapphire system.

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

Ideas Grants 2021 

Ideas Grants Funding Recommendations
Funding recommendations are being finalised and progressed through the approvals process. 
The approvals process that NHMRC is working through (following the completion of peer review) includes:

•    reviewing budget change recommendations made by peer reviewers 
•    conducting an analysis to verify any outlier scores against the comments provided by assessors 
•    determining the top ranked applications for funding based on peer reviewers’ assessments  
•    seeking the necessary approvals to award the proposed grants  
•    generating the outcome documentation to notify applicants and RAOs.

NHMRC anticipates releasing the funding outcomes under embargo in November.

Peer Review 

Profile update 

Researchers need to ensure that their Sapphire Profile is completed and up to date (particularly their ‘Peer Review Area’ and ‘Fields of Research’ sections). Please note that the ‘Fields of Research’ dataset has been updated, which will help improve accuracy of expertise matching in peer review.

Targeted Call for Research 2021 - Hearing Health 

The NHMRC Targeted Call for Research (TCR) into Hearing Health 2021: Evidence-based support services opened for applications in Sapphire on 13 October 2021.

Minimum data is due by 5 pm (AEDT) on 24 November 2021
Applications close at 5 pm (AEDT) on 8 December 2021

This TCR aims to support research that develops an evidence base for future policies, interventions and initiatives to support the Hearing Services program.

Further details, including the Grant Guidelines, are available on GrantConnect. Please also see visit NHMRC’s website for more details.

Targeted Call for Research 2021 - Improving health of people with intellectual disability 

The NHMRC Targeted Call for Research (TCR): Improving health of people with intellectual disability will open for applications in Sapphire on 20 October 2021.

Minimum data is due by 5 pm (AEDT) on 1 December 2021
Applications close at 5 pm (AEDT) on 15 December 2021.

The intended outcomes of this TCR are to improve the long-term health outcomes and quality of life for people with intellectual disability.

Further details, including the Grant Guidelines, will be available on GrantConnect once the call opens in Sapphire.

Centres of Research Excellence 2022

The Centres of Research Excellence grant opportunity for funding commencing in 2022 will open Wednesday 20 October 2021

Minimum data is due by 5 pm (AEDT) on 17 November 2021
Applications close at 5 pm (AEDT) on 1 December 2021.

The 2022 grant opportunity will include three streams:

•    Clinical Research
•    Health Services Research
•    Public Health Research.

Further information, including the Grant Guidelines will be available on GrantConnect and NHMRC’s website, once the call opens in Sapphire.

Variation requests in RGMS 

In preparation for the transfer of all RGMS data to Sapphire later this year, the process for submitting variation requests in RGMS will change from 3 November 2021 as follows:

•    Up until 3 November 2021 – variation requests will continue to be created, accepted and managed in RGMS.
•    From 3 November 2021 – creation of new variation requests will occur via an off-system process. 

o    Variation requests that have been created before 3 November, but which are yet to submitted to NHMRC in RGMS must either be completed and submitted to NHMRC in RGMS by 12 November or will need to be recreated using the off-system process. Further detail about this process will be provided to RAOs in the lead up to 3 November 2021.

It is important to note that this change only applies to grants created and managed in RGMS and is an interim measure until all RGMS data has been migrated to Sapphire. There is accordingly no change to the variation process for grants created and managed in Sapphire.

The Research Help Centre will be available to assist with any questions.

Medical Research Future Fund – Grant Opportunities open for applications

The following MRFF grant opportunity is open for applications:

MRFF – Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research Initiative– 2021 Chronic Musculoskeletal Conditions in Children and Adolescents Grant Opportunity

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

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 the 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 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.

Call for submissions for recognition as an NHMRC Research Translation Centre

NHMRC has provided another clarification based on a query it has received. All clarifications will be published to the Health Research and Translation Centre page on NHMRC’s website and should be monitored throughout the application period.

Any enquiries can be emailed.

Decision-making for pandemics: an ethics framework—released 

NHMRC has released Decision-making for pandemics: an ethics framework to support policy development and facilitate ethical decision-making during pandemics. The framework provides core values and procedural principles and tools for applying them to real-world scenarios via analysis and case studies. It has been developed in partnership with consumer groups and experts in clinical, public health and research ethics.

Webinar: Guideline implementation from national to local: three case studies from across Australia 

The ANZ Guidelines International Network Regional Group invites you to attend its next webinar: Guideline implementation from national to local: three case studies from across Australia on Wednesday 24 November 2021, 10 am ACDT, Adelaide (10.30 am AEDT, Melbourne & Sydney).

In this webinar three case studies will be presented by Dr Amanda Buttery (Heart Foundation), Dr Samantha Chakraborty (Monash University) and Dr Elizabeth Lynch. They will discuss their approaches to guideline implementation, including their successes and challenges.   A panel discussion will be held after the presentations for any questions. 

Registration is now open on GIN Connect. (Once you register through GIN Connect, a Zoom link will be available to you via the ‘More Info’ tab or by choosing the ‘Add to Calendar’ option.)

NHMRC Website Maintenance 

The nhmrc.gov.au website will be unavailable on Thursday 21st October between 7:00am and 9:30am (AEDT) while NHMRC deploys an important system update. 

NHMRC apologises for any inconvenience caused.

Any users who experience difficulties following the update should contact web services via email for assistance.

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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If you have any questions about the newsletter, please email communications@nhmrc.gov.au