20 September 2021

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

$472 million investment in Australia’s health and medical research future

NHMRC welcomed last week’s announcement by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, of almost half a billion dollars in funding for health and medical research.

The $472 million in funding includes more than $12 million dedicated to research on SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – and over $84 million for research in infectious diseases.

Funding was announced for:

•    Investigator Grants
•    Centres of Research Excellence
•    Partnership Projects (PRC2)
•    Targeted Call for Research (TCR) on End of Life Care
•    NHMRC-NIHR Collaborative Research Grant.

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said the announcement reported on close to half the NHMRC’s grant funding for 2021 and a considerable investment in future health and medical research in Australia.

“As have all sections of the community, the health and medical research sector has contended with the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The sector has delivered against these odds, bringing Australia’s best science and scientists to the problem,” Professor Kelso said.

Read more in NHMRC’s media release and via the outcomes page on NHMRC’s website.

Nominate to participate in Peer Review for 2022

Researchers are now able to nominate themselves to be considered for appointment to NHMRC peer review panels in 2022 through Sapphire. Information on how to access and complete the self-nomination form is available under Researcher > My Assessments on the Sapphire Tutorials webpage. Self-nominations must be entered in Sapphire by Thursday 30 September 2021.

Nominations are now open for:

•    Centres of Research Excellence
•    Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants
•    Development Grants
•    Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases Funding Call
•    Ideas Grants
•    Investigator Grants
•    NHMRC e-ASIA Joint Research Program Grants
•    Postgraduate Scholarships 
•    Partnership Projects
•    Targeted Call for Research: Hearing Health
•    Targeted Call for Research into Improving Indigenous Maternal and Child Health in the Early Years
•    Synergy Grants
•    Indigenous Research Excellence Criteria (IREC) Assessor (Various Grant Opportunities)

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

Researchers without an active Sapphire account will need to either activate or register an account online. Instructions for doing this are available under ‘How do I activate my Sapphire account?’ on the Sapphire Help page. NHMRC suggests this is done as soon as possible, to allow time for account activation prior to the deadline. 

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

Researchers will also need to ensure that their Sapphire Profile is completed and up to date when self-nominating for peer review (particularly their ‘Peer Review Area’ and ‘Fields of Research’ sections).

Please note that the ‘Fields of Research’ dataset has been updated as explained in the Sapphire Update - Fields of Research code changes.

Ideas Grants Peer Review Survey

NHMRC thanks all Peer Review Members for their participation in this year’s Ideas Grants Peer Review. 

Members are encouraged to provide their feedback in the 2021 Ideas Grants Peer Review Survey, which was circulated to members via email last week. Responses to the survey help inform future policy and process directions for the scheme, so NHMRC appreciates feedback from as many peer reviewers as possible. 

The survey will be available until 11:59pm AEDT Wednesday 29 September 2021.

Postgraduate Scholarships 2021 Peer Reviewers

NHMRC would like to thank all the peer reviewers and community observers for their contributions to the 2021 Postgraduate Scholarships (PGS) peer review process. 

All assessments have now been completed and NHMRC is currently working through the funding recommendations process. This includes determining the top ranked applications for funding based on peer reviewers’ assessments, seeking the necessary approvals to award the proposed grants, and generating outcome documents to notify the RAOs and applicants.

Sapphire Update – Fields of Research (FoR) code changes

NHMRC is introducing a number of changes to Sapphire forms to ensure NHMRC application and peer review activities align with the updated 2020 Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC) Fields of Research (FoR) codes, as follows:

  • There will be no change to FoR codes in application forms for any scheme rounds that are currently open or preparing to open later this year. The 2020 codes will be introduced into NHMRC and MRFF grant application forms for schemes opening from January 2022.
  • The 2020 FoR codes are now available for researchers to select in their Sapphire profiles. These replace the 2008 FoR codes. Where a 2008 FoR code maps directly to a single 2020 FoR code, NHMRC has automatically updated any existing selections to save researchers having to update their FoRs. However, where a 2008 FoR code maps to multiple possible 2020 FoR codes, researchers will need to manually select at least one FoR from the 2020 FoR codes.

Given these changes, researchers intending to self-nominate for peer review will need to check and, where necessary, update their FoR codes in their Sapphire Profiles (located under My Profile > Peer Review Information) in order for their self-nominations to be considered for this year’s cycle. We strongly recommend that all other Sapphire users also update their FoR selections as soon as possible.

A comparison document titled ANZSRC 2020 correspondence to ANZSRC 2008 that maps between the 2008 and 2020 FoR codes can be found on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website to assist researchers with updating their FoR selections. Links to complete lists of the 2020 FoR codes and NHMRC’s research keywords will also be added to the Profile form in Sapphire in the coming weeks.

General instructions for updating Sapphire profiles are available in the Sapphire Knowledge Base, located under Researcher > My Profile.

NHMRC thanks all Sapphire users for their understanding of both the need for this important change and any inconvenience caused.

Please contact the Research Help Centre at help@nhmrc.gov.au for further information or assistance.

Medical Research Future Fund – Grant Opportunities open for applications

The following MRFF grant opportunities are now open for applications:

•    MRFF – PHRI – 2021 Primary Health Care Research Grant Opportunity

The application due date for this grant opportunity is 23 February 2022, with minimum data due on 9 February 2022.

•    MRFF – TBIM and EPCDRI – 2021 Traumatic Brain Injury Grant Opportunity

The application due date for this grant opportunity is 9 February 2022, with minimum data due on 25 January 2022.

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

•    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 help@nhmrc.gov.au, include the URL and request it be added to the system.

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.

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.

Guidelines for Guidelines consultation

Guidelines for Guidelines is an online resource that provides practical advice on planning, development, review, implementation and updating of guidelines. Drafts of each content module are released to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on their content before finalisation.

New draft Guidelines for Guidelines modules have now been released for public consultation:

•    Guideline impact 
•    Selecting studies and data extraction

You are invited to provide comments on the draft modules via email to the Clinical Guidelines team until 16 December 2021.

Call for submissions for recognition as an NHMRC research translation centre 

NHMRC anticipates opening a round for groups seeking recognition as an NHMRC Research Translation Centre on Friday 24 September 2021.

Further information will be published to the Health Research and Translation Centre page on NHMRC’s website.

Enquiries can be emailed to: AdvancedCentres@nhmrc.gov.au

Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development  - Interdisciplinary Cutting-edge Research 2021 grant call

NHMRC would like to advise Australian researchers of a grant opportunity being offered by the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED). The grant opportunity invites applications by Japanese researchers undertaking basic research in the field of infectious diseases. To be eligible, Japanese applicants must have an international research collaborator.

Please note that NHMRC is not associated with this grant opportunity. Interested parties are encouraged to review the call information (in English), available on the AMED grant opportunity webpage, associated grant opportunity documents, or by emailing AMED – jprogram@amed.go.jp.

Announcement of the Australian Dietary Guidelines Expert Committee

NHMRC is reviewing the Australian Dietary Guidelines to help Australians live well for longer. 

NHMRC has recently announced the Australian Dietary Guidelines Expert Committee. To see the experts who will be advising NHMRC on the review of the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines, click on this link to NHMRC’s website.

More information on the review can be found on NHMRC’s website.

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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