At the National Health and Medical Research Council (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.

Our history

The Federal Health Council (the precursor to the NHMRC) 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, Medical Research Endowment Account (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.

Statement of Expectations and Statement of Intent

The Australian Government agreed that Ministers would issue Statements of Expectations to statutory agencies. Through issuing a Statement of Expectations, Ministers are able to provide greater clarity about government policies and objectives relevant to a statutory authority, including the policies and priorities it is expected to observe in conducting its operations.

The Statement of Expectations recognises the independence of the statutory agency.

A Statement of Expectations was issued to the CEO of NHMRC on 23 November 2020. The CEO has responded with a Statement of Intent.


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