The NHMRC receives many requests for research to be undertaken in urgent areas.
How can the NHMRC decide when there is an urgent need to undertake research? How can we distinguish between urgent health and medical matters and urgent research into health and medical matters? What are the implications of making a definitive statement about the need for urgent research into a health or medical matter?
Following similar recommendations from the United Kingdom and United States of America , the NHMRC has adopted the following definition of urgent research:
Research that must be undertaken rapidly in response to a threat to public health. The threat may be generalised, or specific to a particular group of individuals, and may be identified as either a current major problem, a potential major problem or a problem which is expected to increase in the future. The main catalysts for urgent research will be the fact that a disease or illness or its variant(s) is previously unknown or unidentified, it has a high morbidity and/or mortality rate, and this attracts publicity and public and/or government concern about disease/illness.
Based on this definition the NHMRC developed an Urgent Research Protocol to consider requests for urgent research.
For further background information, see review the paper below: