At NHMRC we are excited by the huge potential benefits of the research we fund and by the opportunities we have to ensure Australians have access to evidence-based, authoritative health advice.

We create pathways to a healthier future through our research funding, our health guidelines and the ethical standards we set and uphold.

As the nation’s leading expert body in health and medical research, we set ourselves high standards of integrity and scientific rigour, and see ourselves as championing the pursuit of better health outcomes for all Australians.

NHMRC Corporate Plan

The NHMRC Corporate Plan 2020–21 covers the four years to 2023–24. In line with legislated requirements, it identifies major health issues likely to arise, how NHMRC will deal with these issues, including the continuing impact of COVID-19, and our strategy for health and medical research. It also details the key activities NHMRC will undertake to achieve our purposes, and the operating context in which we work, comprising: environment, capability, risk oversight and management, and organisations NHMRC cooperates with to achieve our purposes.

Our strategy for health and medical research

The themes of investment, translation and integrity represent NHMRC’s strategy for health and medical research for the period covered by this plan. We will:

  • create knowledge and build research capability through investment in the highest quality health and medical research and the best researchers
  • drive the translation of health and medical research into clinical practice, policy and health systems and support the commercialisation of research discoveries, contributing to an Australian health system that is research-led, evidence-based, efficient and sustainable, and 
  • maintain a strong integrity framework, which underpins rigorous and ethical research, and relevant and evidence-based guidelines, thereby promoting community trust.

View the NHMRC Corporate Structure available in the download section. 

Our history

The Federal Health Council (the precursor to the National Health and Medical Research Council) was established in 1926 following a Royal Commission's recommendations. Membership of the Council then consisted of the Commonwealth Director General of Health and the Chief Health Officer of each State.

The first meeting of the new NHMRC was held in February 1937 and was taken up mainly by discussion on medical research, including the 30,000 pounds allocated for grants in the first year. Since then the Council has consistently supported and stimulated health and medical research, keeping them closely linked to public-health issues and the community's need for health advice. In 1966-67, MREA appropriations exceeded $1 million for the first time and in 2018-19, the appropriation has increased to $829 million.

One of the inaugural grants went to John Carew Eccles (1903-1997), who in 1963 shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine with Sir Alan Hodgkin and Sir Andrew Huxley for his pioneering work on the chemical means by which signals are transmitted by nerve cells. Much of his research - primarily undertaken overseas - focused on the part of the brain that controls posture and movement.

NHMRC became an independent statutory agency within the portfolio of the Australian Government Minister for Health and Ageing, operating under the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 (NHMRC Act) on 1 July 2006.

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