In April 2017, the then Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Greg Hunt MP,  asked the NHMRC's CEO to fast track a Targeted Call for Research (TCR) into Lyme-like illnesses in Australia, with funding of up to $3 million. A TCR is a one-time solicitation for grant applications to address a specific health issue.  

The Australian Government understands that some Australians suffer from the symptoms of a chronic debilitating illness, which many associate with a tick bite. The Department of Health and Aged Care advises that these people be described as having debilitating symptom complexes attributed to ticks (DSCATT).

An NHMRC Advisory Committee was established to define the context, objectives and desired research outcomes of a TCR on DSCATT to ensure best use of available research funds. More information on the Advisory Committee for Research into DSCATT.

The resultant TCR into DSCATT aimed to support research that helps us to:

  • better understand the nature, prevalence and causes of DSCATT and the way they impact on the physical, social and psychological health of patients
  • obtain evidence to guide the development of effective tools and procedures for diagnosis, treatment and symptom management.


Following peer review by an expert panel of researchers of applications received, two applications were funded through this TCR:

  • APP1169827 Developing Treatment for Debilitating Symptom Complexes attributed to Ticks, Professor Richard Kanaan (Chief investigator A), University of Melbourne, budget $1,055,766.
  • APP1169949  Troublesome Ticks: Determining the aetiology of DSCATT in Australia, Professor Peter Irwin (Chief Investigator A), Murdoch University, budget $1,934,788

Outcomes for all Targeted Calls for Research are available.

Scientific Progress Reports

In line with the 2018 NHMRC funding rules researcher teams are required to submit an annual progress report outlining the achievements and progress against the aims of the initiative, which NHMRC may publish on its website.

Progress reports for the TCR on DSCATT as at November 2022.