19 June 2023

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

Collage of three portraits of Honours recipients. Pictured from left to right they are Professor Glenda Halliday AC, Professor Jane Gunn AO and Professor Michael Kidd AO.

Researchers recognised in King’s Birthday Honours

Many contributors to Australian health and medical research were recognised in the King’s Birthday 2023 Honours List.

Among many those recognised were:

  • Professor Glenda Halliday AC, member of NHMRC’s Research Committee, for her exceptional service through research on neurodegenerative disorders and as a mentor.
  • NHMRC Council member Professor Jane Gunn AO, who has made an outstanding contribution to health and medical research, in particular addressing challenges GPs face when delivering primary mental health care. 
  • Professor Michael Kidd AO who brings exceptional energy, generosity and empathy to his work. NHMRC was proud to support the National COVID-19 Health and Research Advisory Committee which he co-chaired with Professor Sharon Lewin AO.

“Congratulations to all those recognised and thank you for your service to the community,” said NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO.

New features on the way for Sapphire 

The Sapphire module for application and grant management will receive a necessary software upgrade and improved acquittals functionality. These updates are scheduled for 24 June 2023.

What is coming?

New features available to Research Administration Officers (RAOs) will include:

  • Sapphire: new user interface, ability to configure tables by sorting and filtering all columns, bulk approval feature and an in-system tour (built-in navigation tips).
  • Acquittals release: updated validation and error reporting on upload, greater visibility of submitted financial reports, interface improvements.

Expected outage

Sapphire is expected to be offline on Saturday 24 June 2023 from 07:00 until midnight while deployment occurs. We will confirm the deployment date and its completion via Sapphire’s Twitter account and via RAO alert.

Postpone grant variation requests

NHMRC asks RAOs to postpone creating new variation requests until Monday 26 June 2023. Variations already submitted to NHMRC will continue to be processed.


A range of resources will be available on the Sapphire Help page after deployment.

Please email help@nhmrc.gov.au for further information or assistance.

New international collaborative opportunity 

On 6 June 2023 the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) announced a new funding program, Adopting Sustainable Partnerships for an Innovative Research Ecosystem (ASPIRE). ASPIRE is designed to foster the exchange of information and collaboration between Japan and partner countries. 

AMED will accept research proposals from Japan-based research teams seeking to collaborate with already-funded researchers from partner countries where the research aligns with the aims of ASPIRE. 

Under this new program, Japanese researchers may apply for funding from AMED to partner with already-funded NHMRC grant recipients. No additional funding is provided by NHMRC. NHMRC grant recipients are encouraged to notify their RAO of any new partnerships formed.

Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants 2023 opening soon

This year’s Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grant round will open for applications later this month.

Key dates:

  • Applications open Wednesday 28 June 2023
  • Minimum data due Wednesday 26 July 2023 17:00 AEST
  • Applications close Wednesday 23 August 2023 17:00 AEST

The intended outcomes are improvements in health and wellbeing, health care practice or policy, as a result of:

  • High-quality clinical trials that provide reliable evidence of the effects of health-related interventions on health outcomes (or appropriate surrogates).
  • High-quality cohort studies that provide reliable evidence on the relation of important risk factors and other exposures to health-related outcomes.
  • High-quality retrospective cohort studies that provide reliable evidence on the relation of important risk factors and other exposures to health-related outcomes.

If you anticipate applying for or being named on a Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grant (including as an Associate Investigator), please check you are registered for Sapphire or activate your account well in advance of the minimum data deadline.

Ideas Grants – peer review update

Peer review processes 

Assessment allocations to peer reviewers are currently being finalised. Applications for assessment will be made available to peer reviewers in Sapphire in early July. Peer reviewers will be notified via email when they are available. 

NHMRC will convene peer reviewer Q&A sessions on 28 June 2023 and 3 July 2023. Invitations for these sessions will be sent out shortly. 

Peer review key dates*

  • June: Peer reviewers are assigned to applications (based on results of the COI and suitability survey results) and are invited to attend a peer review question and answer session.
  • July - August 2023 (4 weeks): Peer reviewers review applications, submit scores and provide qualitative feedback against Ideas Grants assessment criteria for each allocated application.
  • August (2 weeks): Peer reviewers will be provided with the opportunity to review the assessment comments provided by peer reviewers on the same applications they assessed to gauge how their own assessments compared to those of their peers.

*NHMRC will notify peer reviewers of any timing changes.

If you have any questions about the assessment process, please contact your secretariat. For technical Sapphire enquiries, email help@nhmrc.gov.au.

MRFF key dates

The following Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant opportunities have close dates approaching: 

2023 Early to Mid-Career Researchers (GO6085) 

  • Applications close 21 June 2023 at 17:00 AEST 

2022 Clinical Trials Activity (GO5887) 

  • Applications close 28 June 2023 at 17:00 AEST 

The following MRFF grant opportunity has a minimum data deadline approaching: 

Clinical Trials Activity International Clinical Trials Collaboration round 23.1 (GO6114) 

  • Minimum data due 28 June 2023 at 17:00 AEST 
  • Applications close 26 July 2023 at 17:00 AEST 

Details on how to apply for MRFF grant opportunities and all MRFF close dates are available on GrantConnect. Only applicants who have completed minimum data by the due date can submit an application. It is also the applicant’s responsibility to ensure they meet all eligibility requirements, including limits on the number of times a person can be named as a Chief Investigator on applications submitted to a grant opportunity. 

Applicants should ensure: 

MRFF Grant Assessment Committee self-nomination 

Register your interest to become a member of an MRFF grant assessment committee. 

Key NHMRC grant program dates

Please see Funding schemes and calendar.


See previous editions of Tracker.

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