6 September 2021

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

Crossing disciplines to answer complex research questions

University of Adelaide's Professor Ian Olver received the 2021 NHMRC Ethics Award in recognition of his significant contribution to Australian health and medical research ethics over the last decade. 

As chair of NHMRC’s Australian Health Ethics Committee, and as a valued member of NHMRC Council from 2012 to 2018, his balanced and considered leadership style and willingness to engage sensitively on tough issues supported a wider understanding of the ethical impact of emerging health and medical research innovations and technologies.

"The engagement in ethical decision-making has been an ongoing source of challenge which has enriched my career. To be able to contribute something new, I wanted to explore a line of research which would mesh with my primary field of oncology. I chose end-of-life decision-making and explored the philosophical arguments around the value of life." 

Read Professor Olver's InFocus story on NHMRC's website

NHMRC Corporate Plan 2021–22

NHMRC has released its Corporate Plan for 2021–22. The plan presents our national strategy for health and medical research and includes updated strategic and health priorities for 2021–22 and beyond. Visit NHMRC’s website to view NHMRC’s Corporate Plan

Ideas Grants 2021

Ideas Grants Peer Review Processes

NHMRC would like to thank the 700+ Ideas Grants peer review members for the time and energy they committed to the 2021 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 as soon as possible. 

This includes:

  • reviewing budget change recommendations made by peer reviewers 
  • conducting an outlier 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 would also like to thank the peer review mentors and community observers for their participation in the Ideas Grant peer review process.

Ideas Grants Peer Review Survey

The Ideas Grants team will be circulating a survey shortly to capture peer reviewers’ 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 Ideas Grants processes.

Self-nominations to participate in NHMRC Peer Review Panels for 2022 will open soon 

Later this month, researchers will be invited to nominate through Sapphire to be considered for appointment to NHMRC peer review panels. Instructions on how to self-nominate and the self-nomination form will be available soon.

Researchers without an active Sapphire account will need to either activate or register an account online in advance of the self-nomination form being available, to guarantee account activation prior to the deadline. Instructions for doing this are available under ‘How do I activate my Sapphire account?’ on the Sapphire Help page

2021 Targeted Call for Research Biotoxin-related illnesses 

The 2021 Targeted Call for Research (TCR) Biotoxin-related illnesses will close at 5:00 pm (AEST) on 15 September 2021.

Applications must be submitted electronically using Sapphire (unless otherwise advised by NHMRC). 

Electronic submission requires administering institutions and all CIs on an application to register for an account in Sapphire. Applicants who are not registered can submit a new user request via the login page of Sapphire. 

Questions should be submitted no later than 1:00 pm (AEST) on 15 September 2021

Further details, including the grant guidelines, are available on GrantConnect (GO4959) and NHMRC’s website.

Sapphire Update

Following the launch of two new Sapphire modules last week as part of ongoing work to replace NHMRC’s Research Grants Management System (RGMS), notification of grant application outcomes will now occur via Sapphire instead of RGMS for most schemes.

For schemes releasing outcomes in Sapphire from September 2021, CIAs and Research Administration Officers (RAOs) will also be able to accept/decline grant offers, complete at-award milestones, request variations and submit scientific reports in Sapphire, with additional grant administration functions (e.g. financial acquittals) to follow later this year.

The first scheme to release outcomes in Sapphire will be the 2021 round of Investigator Grants. RAOs will be notified by RAO Alert and CIAs will be notified by email when outcome documents, including successful and unsuccessful letters, become available in Sapphire. Strict embargo will remain in place until after the grants have been publicly announced. A definition of ‘under embargo’ can be found on NHMRC’s website.

A variety of resources are available to assist CIAs and RAOs with understanding the changes and using the new functions, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions on the Sapphire Help page and videos tutorials in the Sapphire Knowledge Base. In addition, the Research Help Centre will be available to assist with any questions and issues.

For further details visit NHMRC’s website.

2021 Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases Implementation Science School 

Applications are now open for the 2021 GACD Implementation Science School.

The school will take place online over seven days between 29 November and 10 December 2021. This unique opportunity is perfect for early-career researchers working in non-communicable disease prevention and management to build their knowledge, skills, and confidence in the field of implementation science.

Through expert-led lectures, small group sessions, facilitated group work, and panel discussions, participants will learn how to study and implement research findings into policy and practice, select and apply theories, models, and frameworks, and create a professional network for future collaborations.

Find out more and apply on GACD’s website.

NHMRC is a founding member of the GACD.

Applications are open until 30 September 2021.

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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