19 October 2020

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

Budget 2020-21 
The 2020-21 Federal Budget handed down on 6 October included forward estimates of $6 billion over the next four years for health and medical research with $3.5 billion allocated to NHMRC. The Budget also included announcements of outcomes of the Centres of Research Excellence, Partnership Projects, Development Grants and funding for medical research to improve understanding of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For more information, please read the CEO’s statement which includes links to each of the funding announcements.

NHMRC Annual Report 2019-20 
The NHMRC Annual Report 2019-20 was tabled in Parliament on 16 October 2020. The annual report is a summary of the performance and financial position of the NHMRC for the financial year 2019-20. The report reviews NHMRC’s performance against the activities and performance targets set out in the NHMRC Corporate Plan 2019-20. In the first half of the 2019-20 year, a major focus was the delivery of the inaugural round of NHMRC’s new grant program. Of course, the second half of the year has brought COVID-19 and all the change and disruption that has caused. NHMRC is proud to have contributed to national resilience through long-term support for research in infectious diseases and many other fields, as well as specific investments in pandemic research preparedness and response. For more information on NHMRC’s performance in 2019-20, including NHMRC’s response to COVID-19 and ongoing focus on investment, translation and integrity across all areas of health and medical research in Australia, read the annual report on the NHMRC website.

Open MRFF grant opportunities 
The following Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant opportunities are currently open for applications in Sapphire.

  • 2020 Childhood Cancer Research Grant Opportunity
  • 2020 COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Research Grant Opportunity (Round 2)
  • 2020 Efficient Use of Existing Medicines Grant Opportunity 
  • 2020 International Clinical Trial Collaborations Grant Opportunity (Round 1 and Round 2) 
  • 2020 Maternal Health and First 2000 Days, Early Childhood, and Exercise and Nutrition Grant Opportunity
  • 2020 Medicinal Cannabis Clinical Trials Grant Opportunity 
  • 2020 Mental Health Research Grant Opportunity 
  • 2020 Primary Health Care Research Grant Opportunity 
  • 2020 Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need – General Grant Opportunity
  • 2020 Silicosis Research Grant Opportunity 

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 the NHMRC website

Clinicians, industry experts 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.

Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants 2020
NHMRC Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants 2020 scheme dates are as follows:

  • Minimum data due by 5:00pm AEDT Wednesday 4 November 2020
  • Round closes at 5:00pm AEDT Wednesday 25 November 2020.

Minimum data must be entered in Sapphire by the specified due date. The necessary minimum data fields for Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants 2020 are indicated in Sapphire by a blue flag. Applications that fail to satisfy this requirement will not be accepted and will be removed from the funding round.  

Applicants must complete the required fields with correct information. The use of placeholder text such as “text”, “synopsis” or “xx” etc. is not acceptable as minimum data.

Minimum data will assist NHMRC to confirm panel membership based on the spread of anticipated applications and recruit more peer reviewers in particular areas if required.

RAOs are not required to certify applications for the purpose of minimum data. Applications should only be certified once complete and ready for final submission.

Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) 2021 grant opportunity opening 
The CRE 2021 grant opportunity will open in Sapphire on Wednesday 21 October 2020.  Applications will close 5:00pm (ACT local time) 2 December 2020 with minimum data due 5:00pm (ACT local time) 18 November 2020.
The CRE 2021 grant opportunity will include four streams:

  • Clinical Research
  • Health Services Research
  • Public Health Research
  • Dementia Research

Further information will be available on GrantConnect from 21 October 2020.

2020 Partnership Projects Peer Review Cycle 2 (PRC2) 
The due date for NHMRC Approved Administering Institutions to submit partner waiver requests for applications in the 2020 Partnership Projects PRC2 is Wednesday 4 November 2020.

Please direct all enquiries to the NHMRC Research Help Centre via email at help@nhmrc.gov.au.

Ideas Grants Peer Review Processes 
NHMRC would like to thank the more than 600 Ideas Grants Peer Review Members for the time and energy they committed to the 2020 Ideas Grants peer review process.  Between them, they completed over 11,500 individual assessments. NHMRC is now working through the funding recommendations process in order to advise outcomes to the sector before the end of the year. This includes reviewing budget change recommendations made by peer reviewers, determining the top applications for funding based on the peer reviewers’ assessments, seeking the necessary approvals to award the proposed grants, and generating and releasing the outcome documentation to notify applicants and RAOs.

The Ideas Grants team will be circulating a survey in the coming weeks to capture peer reviewers’ feedback on the scheme and processes this year. We would greatly appreciate participation in the survey as it helps us to evaluate and consider process improvements. Should you have any questions regarding the Ideas Grants processes in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact your panel secretariat. 

Nominate to participate in Peer Review Panels for 2021 
Researchers are now able to nominate themselves to be considered for appointment to NHMRC expert review panels through Sapphire. Information on how to access and complete the form is available from the Sapphire Tutorials webpage (note: you will need to click ‘Assessor’ on the left of the page to view/access the document). Self-nominations must be entered in Sapphire by Friday 30 October 2020

Nominations are now open for:

  • Centres of Research Excellence
  • Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants 
  • Development Grants
  • Ideas Grants
  • Investigator Grants
  • NHMRC e-ASIA Joint Research Program Grants
  • Postgraduate Scholarships 
  • Partnership Projects
  • Targeted Call for Research into End of Life Care
  • Synergy Grants
  • Indigenous Research Excellence Criteria (IREC) Assessor (Various Grant Opportunities)

Information and guidance relating to the peer review process, including guidance to help you self-assess which schemes you might be suited to can be found on the NHMRC website.

Researchers without a Sapphire account will need to activate or register their account online. Information on how to do this is available from the Sapphire landing page.

If you are aware of any researchers interested in participating as peer reviewers please direct them to the NHMRC website.

Key application dates 

Funding scheme

Open date

Minimum data due

Applications close

Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants

04-Mar-20

04-Nov-20

25-Nov-20

2020 Partnership Projects PRC2

30-Jul-20

18-Nov-20

02-Dec-20

TCR: End of Life Care

02-Sep-20

14-Oct-20

28-Oct-20

MRFF -  2020 Rare Cancer Rare Disease and Unmet Need Grant Opportunity

02-Sep-20

28-Oct-20

11-Nov-20

MRFF International Clinical Trials Collaborations 20#1

02-Sep-20

28-Oct-20

11-Nov-20

MRFF - 2020 COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Research Grant Opportunity  EoI#2

07-Sep-20

N/A

11-Nov-20

MRFF - 2020 Silicosis Research Grant Opportunity

02-Sep-20

28-Oct-20

11-Nov-20

MRFF - 2020 Medicinal Cannabis Clinical Trials Grant Opportunity

02-Sep-20

28-Oct-20

11-Nov-20

MRFF - 2020 Mental Health Research Grant Opportunity

02-Sep-20

28-Oct-20

11-Nov-20

MRFF - 2020 Primary health Care Research Grant Opportunity

02-Sep-20

28-Oct-20

11-Nov-20

Centres of Research Excellence

21-Oct-20

18-Nov-20

02-Dec-20

MRFF - Maternal Health and First 2000 Days, Early Childhood, and Exercise and Nutrition Grant Opportunity

12-Oct-20

20-Jan-21

03-Feb-21

MRFF -  2020 Efficient Use of Existing Medicines Grant Opportunity

12-Oct-20

20-Jan-21

03-Feb-21

MRFF - 2020 Childhood Cancer Research Grant Opportunity

07-Oct-20

20-Jan-21

03-Feb-21

MRFF International Clinical Trials Collaborations 20#2

02-Sep-20

17-Feb-21

03-Mar-21

Development Grants

21-Apr-21

19-May-21

16-Jun-21

*NB schemes are in order of opening dates

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