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NHMRC Relative to Opportunity Policy

NHMRC’s goal is to support the highest quality research that will lead to improvements in health over the short or long term. Peer review by independent experts is used to identify well-designed feasible projects that address a significant question and are undertaken by researchers with demonstrated capacity to perform high-quality research.

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Improving outcomes in childhood leukaemia

Leukaemia is the most diagnosed cancer in children and the second most common cancer causing death among children in Australia.1 NHMRC-funded researchers at the Children’s Cancer Institute (CCI), in collaboration with researchers at Flinders University and in European laboratories, developed a highly accurate and sensitive technique – known as minimal residual disease (MRD) testing – that enables doctors to improve anti-cancer treatment for children with the most common type of leukaemia.

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Outcomes Factsheet - Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies (CTCS) Grants 2023

The objective of the CTCS Grant scheme is to support high-quality clinical trials and cohort studies that address important gaps in knowledge, leading to relevant and implementable findings for the benefit of human health.

  • Factsheet

Rhesus immunisation in Australia

Haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN, also known as Rh Disease) can occur during pregnancy when a pregnant woman’s immune system produces antibodies that attack their fetus’ red blood cells (RBCs). Once a major cause of fetal and newborn mortality, today HDFN is almost non-existent in Australia due to routine antenatal blood grouping and antibody screening, and the use of prophylactic Rh D immunoglobulin and appropriate clinical management of mother and baby. Guidelines, initially produced by NHMRC on behalf of the Department of Health and Ageing, have assisted with translation of the research on Rh D antibody screening and Rh D immunoglobin into clinical practice.

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Discovering Ross River virus

Australia is home to many viruses – called ‘arboviruses’ – that can, or could, infect humans. Some arboviruses cause seasonal illness, others cause epidemics and some can even cause death. During the second half of the 20th century, NHMRC-funded researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (now QIMR Berghofer) made major contributions to our understanding of arboviruses, enabling clinicians to quickly identify infections in patients and public health authorities to better manage the threats that the viruses pose to health. Research on diseases caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites continues at QIMR Berghofer.

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Phage typing and infection control

During the mid-20th century, epidemics of hospital-based and antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus – or golden staph – were causing serious illness and death in hospitals internationally, and one strain was a particular problem in maternity hospitals. NHMRC-funded bacteriologists working at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) in Sydney made important contributions to knowledge about how to identify strains of golden staph and how to control its spread.

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Health and the built environment: Case Study

Cities are powerhouses of the economy, providing access to employment, opportunities and resources. Yet when poorly planned, cities foster unhealthy and unsustainable lifestyles, exposing residents to environmental stressors such as air-, noise- and light-pollution, heat and motor vehicle traffic.  

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Treating chronic childhood cough: Case Study

Chronic cough is a common problem in children that impairs quality of life, with a burden often unappreciated by health professionals. Protracted Bacterial Bronchitis (PBB) is the most common cause of chronic cough in children. Untreated, it leads to poor future lung health outcomes such as bronchiectasis.

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Fraud and Corruption Control Framework 2024-26

NHMRC is serious about preventing, detecting and responding to fraud and corruption and is committed to high ethical, moral and legal standards.

 A key focus of this framework is to raise awareness of fraud and corruption among NHMRC employees and other people who deal with NHMRC, and to assist in the prevention, detection and reporting of suspected fraud and corrupt conduct.

  • Policy
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Airborne pollen and respiratory allergies: Case Study 

Allergic diseases cost the Australian economy about $30 billion per year in direct financial costs and lost wellbeing.1 Pollens are the most widespread allergen source globally. In Australia, grass pollen exposure is a major trigger of seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and is linked to increases in hospital emergency department visits and admissions for asthma.2 

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Philanthropic Engagement

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) are uniquely positioned to work with individuals, philanthropic trusts, foundations and other funders to help support health and medical research in Australia. Philanthropists interested in supporting high quality health and medical research projects are encouraged to review the opportunities for, and benefits of, engaging with us. 

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Policy on Use of Generative Artificial Intelligence in Grant Applications and Peer Review

The use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) may present a number of opportunities and challenges for grant applicants and peer reviewers. The purpose of this document is to outline NHMRC’s policy on the use of generative AI.

  • Policy
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GARDASIL® – the HPV vaccine: Case Study

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections result in a substantial burden of disease globally, particularly because they can cause cervical cancer.1 In Australia, cancers of the cervix and uterus were once leading causes of cancer-related deaths for women.2 NHMRC-funded researchers at The University of Queensland (UQ) made an important contribution to preventing cervical cancer through their development of the technology that underpins the world’s first HPV vaccines, which are used worldwide today.

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At-home pulmonary rehabilitation: Case Study

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) was the fifth leading cause of death in Australia in 2020. With early diagnosis and treatment, people with COPD can breathe better and live healthier lives.

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Eligibility: Frequently asked questions

These FAQs address common eligibility queries received during the application process for the Investigator, Ideas, and Synergy Grant schemes.

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Protecting against hepatitis: Case study

Over the past century and throughout the world, viral hepatitis emerged as a significant public health issue afflicting hundreds of millions of people and causing severe ill health, liver damage, cancer and death.1

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Insulin resistance, insulin action: Case study

In 2017–18, almost 1 million Australian adults had type 2 diabetes (T2D) and, in 2018, diabetes contributed to 11% of, or over 17,000, Australian deaths.1,2 Cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death for people with diabetes and obesity is a major contributor to the disease.3

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Medical practitioner in white coat interacting with a patient who is wearing a CPAP device

Breathing easier during sleep: Case study

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a chronic respiratory disorder that leads to disturbed sleep and causes sickness in at least 200 million people globally.1 In 2018–19, over 39,000 Australians were hospitalised with a principal diagnosis of OSA.2

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Two types of diabetes: Case study

While diabetes has been recognised as a severe disease since ancient times, it was only during the mid-20th century that National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)-funded researchers at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute conclusively demonstrated that there are 2 major types of diabetes – type 2 (T2D) and type 1 (T1D) – based upon whether a person can or cannot produce their own insulin.

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Improving insulin delivery: Case study

The ability to make insulin was one of the great medical breakthroughs of the 20th Century. However, it quickly became clear to clinicians and researchers how complicated the human body's systems were for regulating and using blood sugar. In the absence of a deep understanding of these systems, providing insulin could have dangers.

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Infant/baby lying on a bed holding mother's thumb

Safer birthing for First Nations families: Case Study

Birthing on Country services offer a culturally safe, holistic approach to the design of maternity services for First Nations peoples and a strategy to improve maternity care outcomes.

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The cochlear implant restores hearing: Case Study

Hearing loss can have a wide range of adverse effects on individuals and their families. Cochlear implants offer the only effective treatment for those with severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss.

NHMRC-funded researchers at The University of Melbourne developed the type of cochlear implant that is in widespread use today. In partnership with leading Australian medical device firm Nucleus Ltd, their work led to the development of Cochlear Limited, a successful Australian company and the world’s leading cochlear implant provider.

  • Case studies
Researcher conducting intracytoplasmic sperm injection (fertilisation of an egg as part of IVF)

Improving Fertility: Case Study

Until the 1970s, people experiencing infertility had few options. Commencing in the late 1960s, NHMRC-funded researchers at Monash University and other research centres in Melbourne began creating in vitro fertilisation (IVF) technologies and developed them into robust medical procedures that are now used worldwide. These technologies have significantly expanded the options available for those wishing to have a baby and today IVF is responsible for about 1 in 20 births in Australia.

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Hand is selecting a happy mood smiley

MoodGYM: Case Study

Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide1 and a major mental health issue in Australia. NHMRC-funded mental health researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) developed MoodGYM, an interactive, automated, online program designed to prevent or reduce symptoms of depression. This evidence-based, self-help program has helped over one million people worldwide manage their mental health. 

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"Baby in pink shirt sleeping on back with arms tucked under head"

A safer infant sleeping position: Case Study

Infants are vulnerable to health challenges because of the relatively immature state of their bodies, including their nervous, cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Moreover, an infant may appear completely healthy but still have an underlying vulnerability that can make it difficult for that infant to cope with certain kinds of environmental stress. 

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Saving blood, saving lives: Case Study

The Patient Blood Management Guidelines (the Guidelines) were developed following increasing evidence of transfusion-related adverse outcomes, leading to the emergence of new practices, including restrictive transfusion strategies and the increased use of alternatives to transfusion in the management of anaemia. 

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A revolution in protein sequencing: Case Study

Over the past century, biomedical research has revealed that proteins are of central importance to disease and healthy human functioning. This case study, which was developed in partnership with St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research (SVI), describes how NHMRC-funded researchers at SVI revolutionised the sequencing of proteins.

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blue bifidobacterium bacterial strain

Personalised immunology: Case Study

In Australia, approximately 1.2 million people are affected by an immune-system disease. For a majority of these diseases, women are three times more likely to be afflicted than are men. As a group, immune-system diseases are the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the industrialised world, surpassed only by cancer and heart diseases.

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Blurred city lights either side of street indicating moving at speed

Reducing speed, improving safety: Case Study

Road traffic injuries are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally and road crashes have a considerable cost for the community, including for families trying to cope with the death or disability of a family member involved in a road crash. 

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Helping GPs care for our mental health: Case Study

Frontline care for people experiencing mental health conditions is usually provided by general practitioners (GPs). These conditions – whose total cost to society has been estimated at $10.9 billion per year1 – impact on a person’s physical, social and financial wellbeing, work productivity and more, and when work-related they are particularly complex and challenging to manage. 

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s oral health: Case Study

Tooth decay (caries) remains one of the most common health problems for both adults and children in Australia. Collaborative research in oral health is delivering improved basic health outcomes to the most disadvantaged Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

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Medical ultrasound: Case Study

Today we take for granted the use of ultrasound for medical examination and diagnosis, but in the 1950s ultrasound was still an emerging technology. NHMRC supported ultrasound research in Australia from its early beginnings, and one of the first ultrasound scanners was developed by NHMRC-funded researchers. 

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Brightly coloured fresh fruit and vegetables

Health and national food standards: Case Study

Access to safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health. Unsafe food – containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances – can cause more than 200 different diseases, ranging from diarrhoea to cancers. 

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Rubella and pregnancy: Case Study

In 1940, Australia experienced an epidemic of rubella: a contagious, viral illness also known as German measles. The following year, an ophthalmologist working in Sydney observed that babies he was treating for an unusual type of congenital cataract had been born to mothers who had contracted rubella early on in their pregnancies.

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Folate and healthy babies: Case Study

In 1989, Professors Carol Bower and Fiona Stanley published the results of a case-control study demonstrating the role of maternal dietary folate in reducing the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida. The data for this study came from what is now known as the Western Australian Register of Developmental Anomalies (WARDA) which was established in 1980.

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Improving Health Outcomes in the Tropical North: Case Study

Tropical medicine and healthcare services are a key pillar enabling more Australians to live and work in northern Australia, and thereby expand the north’s economic contribution to Australia.

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Australian antivenom saving lives: Case Study

Snakebite causes suffering, disability and premature death around the world. Globally, almost 7,400 people are bitten by snakes every day, leading to about 2.7 million cases of envenoming (venom poisoning) and 81,000–138,000 deaths each year. 

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Hands holding a jigsaw hearth

Autism Assessment and Diagnosis Guideline: Case Study

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), also simply termed autism, is a persistent developmental disorder characterised by symptoms evident from early childhood. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and include difficulty in social interaction, restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviour, and communication challenges. 

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Tuberculosis cells

Tuberculosis control in the South-East Asian region: Case Study

While progress has been made globally in reducing the impact of tuberculosis (TB), and while Australia has achieved a TB rate among the lowest reported, the South-East Asian region remains a global TB ‘hot spot’. Australia is well placed to help countries in our region deal with TB as we have world-class domestic systems for disease surveillance and control in human and animal health, and a strong track record of cooperation with countries in the region, including on primary health care. Research by a number of Australian research institutions has contributed to regional improvements to TB detection, prevention and treatment, and has demonstrated the possibility of the rapid reduction in TB prevalence within neighbouring countries. 

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Mother and newborn

Mothers’ and their Children’s Health (MatCH) Case Study

MatCH is one of five cohort studies embedded in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH— also known as Women's Health Australia). MatCH is increasing our understanding of the intergenerational determinants of child health and development in Australia, and MatCH data are providing an unprecedented opportunity to investigate preconception and life course determinants of child health outcomes. ALSWH is a national research resource providing an evidence base to assist policy makers to develop and evaluate policy and practice in service delivery areas affecting women.

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Women’s Reproductive Health (InterLACE): Case Study

The International collaboration for a Life course Approach to reproductive health and Chronic disease Events (InterLACE) is an international research collaboration on women’s reproductive health that includes the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) as a core dataset. InterLACE has provided detailed and robust evidence on reproductive characteristics and disease risk factors across global populations, and is contributing to preventive strategies and targeted approaches to women’s health.

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History of tuberculosis control in Australia

While Australia now has one of the lowest tuberculosis (TB) incidence rates in the world, TB was once a leading cause of death in Australia and was a focus for public health policy during the first half of the 20th century.

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Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Public health case study

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is a lifelong condition characterised by severe neurodevelopmental impairments (with/without physical impairments) that results from prenatal alcohol exposure. 

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Culturally safe advice on alcohol cessation in pregnancy

Drinking alcohol in pregnancy can harm the unborn child and may cause a range of neurodevelopmental disorders including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).1

Early diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in Indigenous children

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure and is characterised by severe neurodevelopmental impairment, that may include intellectual disability, behavioural and other developmental problems.1,2 FASD causes a significant burden to individuals, the health care, education, and justice systems and society.1,2  

Evidence-practice policy gap (EPPG)

An evidence-practice/policy gap is the difference between what is known from the best available research evidence and what is practised in reality (through delivery of medical care or drafting of policies or guidelines). 

Delivering family-centred care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged less than 5 years

The first 5 years of a child’s life are a critical time period for influencing growth, development and learning.1

Influenza vaccination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults

Despite improvements in vaccine uptake in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, adults experience greater rates of influenza hospitalisation than non-Indigenous adults of the same age. 

Severe Asthma: Mepolizumab Case Study

Severe asthma is a life threatening and global health problem affecting about 30 million people. Prevalence is increasing, as is the physical and financial burden of disability.

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Neurodegenerative disease and metals

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Motor Neurone and Parkinson’s disease affect millions of people around the world and place an enormous burden on the Australian healthcare system. 

We have published a wealth of information on Australian health and medical research, and on specific issues relating to Australian health and health care. These include statements, strategies, guidelines and other reports – all of which are publicly available.