20 June 2022

Welcome to Tracker, National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) fortnightly newsletter, with the latest information on major activities and funding opportunities.

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Dr Brendan Murphy AC, Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young AC and Dr Kerry Chant AO

Queen’s Birthday Honours

This year, the Queen’s Birthday Honours recognised a number of health experts for their outstanding contributions to Australian society.

Dr Brendan Murphy and Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young were appointed Companions of the Order of Australia (AC), for their “eminent service to the community”, with recognition of their support of medical research.

Dr Kerry Chant has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “distinguished service to the people of NSW through public health administration and governance, and to medicine” for providing expert advice on COVID-19 to Australians throughout the pandemic. 

Also among those recognised for their outstanding contribution to health and medical research: 

  • Professor Phoebe Phillips AM
  • Dr Steven Hambleton AM
  • Dr Tarun Weeramanthri AM
  • Professor Guy Marks AO
  • Mr Alan Bansemer AC
  • Professor Janette Brand-Miller AC
  • Professor Peter Choong AO
  • Professor Basil Donovan AM
  • Professor Mary-Louise McLaws AO
  • Clinical Associate Professor Catharyn Stern AO

Congratulations to all the recipients. Find out more about the Queen's Birthday 2022 Honours List on the Governor-General's website.

Ideas Grants Peer Review

NHMRC appreciates the willingness of researchers to make themselves available for peer review. We are currently working through the Conflict of Interest (COI) and suitability declarations received. We will then be assigning the 2,193 applications to more than 700 assessors based on the best available self-declared suitability matches.

NHMRC will notify assessors as soon as possible to confirm their appointments and which applications they have been assigned to assess. NHMRC will also be convening a briefing webinar for Ideas Grants assessors to support them in undertaking peer review. The webinar will be recorded and published on the website for those who cannot attend at the time. Further details about the webinar will be provided in coming weeks.

Ideas Grants Peer Review Key Dates*

  • Late June/early July 2022 peer reviewers assigned to applications (based on results of the COI and suitability survey)
  • July – August 2022 peer reviewers review applications and submit scores and comments against Ideas Grant assessment criteria for each allocated application
  • September 2022 outlier check performed, assessments confirmed, budget adjustments made (where required)
  • October – November 2022 funding recommendations progress through approval processes
  • November – December 2022 notification of outcomes

* The Ideas Grant peer review process and timelines are subject to change. NHMRC will notify peer reviewers of any timing changes as soon as practicable.

If you have any questions, please contact your secretariat. Sapphire enquiries should be directed to the Research Help Centre via email help@nhmrc.gov.au.


Investigator Grants Peer Review Processes

Assessments for the Investigator Grants 2022 round commenced on Monday 16 May 2022 and were due by Friday 10 June 2022.  

NHMRC sincerely thanks the 553 Investigator Grant peer reviewers, including those who conducted conflict of interest and suitability declarations, and were not asked to undertake assessments, for their time and energy in contributing to the quality of the 2022 Investigator Grants peer review process. 

Peer reviewers are reminded that, under The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (the Code), peer reviewers are required to maintain the confidentiality of the peer review process and must not disclose the content of any material under review or the outcome of any review process. The unauthorised disclosure of information is a breach of confidentiality and, potentially, a breach of the Code. 

NHMRC is now working through the funding recommendations process with a view to advising outcomes under embargo by August/September this year. Prior to funding recommendations being finalised for Ministerial approval, NHMRC will conduct quality assurance of assessments to identify any inappropriate comments and potential outlier scores and seek clarification from peer reviewers where required. 

Investigator Grants Peer Review Survey

In the coming weeks, the Investigator Grants team will be contacting peer reviewers to seek feedback on the scheme and processes this year. We greatly appreciate participation in the survey as it helps us to evaluate and consider process improvements. In the meantime, please contact your secretariat if you have any questions regarding the Investigator Grants scheme.


The National One Stop Shop for clinical trials and human research – Phase 2 consultations

The National One Stop Shop is an initiative of the Department of Health to develop a national platform for clinical trials and health-related human research that will improve health care outcomes for all Australians.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) is conducting consultations to develop the requirements and specifications of the National One Stop Shop. For more information, see the ACSQHC website.

Public consultations are scheduled for 24 and 29 June. Register here to attend the public consultation forums.


Scientific Reporting Obligations – Reminder

RAOs and Chief Investigators (CIs) are reminded that Progress Reports and Final Reports for applicable MREA and MRFF grant opportunities must be submitted in the timeframes and format specified by NHMRC. As this information can vary between grant programs, please refer to the Grant Schedule, relevant Grant Guidelines and the Scientific Reporting page on NHMRC’s website to determine the specific reporting requirements and submission methods that apply.


Completing Assessments in Sapphire

NHMRC encourages assessors to complete their assessments in Sapphire as they go along, rather than completing them offline and pasting them in later. This minimises the chance of copy and paste errors that can result in an applicant receiving an incorrect assessment or a comment that was intended for a different application. Assessments in-progress can be exported (if desired) and doing assessments completely in-system allows NHMRC secretariats to better support assessors through the peer review process.


MRFF Grant Variation Policy – New

The Department of Health has released the MRFF Grant Variation Policy. The MRFF Grant Variation Policy outlines when and how Eligible Organisations are required to submit a variation request for an MRFF grant agreement. 

For MRFF grants administered by NHMRC, CIs and RAOs are to refer to Appendix A: Submitting Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Grant Variations for MRFF grants administered by NHMRC  for procedures on submitting a request including the evidence required for each variation type.  For any queries on this policy change, contact mrff.postaward@nhmrc.gov.au.


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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