The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is committed to supporting national and international efforts, including NHMRC funded experts, to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences.

NHMRC is also committed to supporting its Administering Institutions, and the health and medical research sector more broadly, to address the multiple challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

NHMRC recognises the circumstances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting the whole Australian community. Our primary concern is for the health and safety of our communities, including health consumers, health and medical researchers and support staff.

For more information including the latest medical advice and official reports, please refer to the Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert

NHMRC-funded researchers including clinicians

Message from the CEO to the health and medical research sector.

NHMRC recognises that the COVID19 pandemic may be affecting the research of our current grant holders. If you have received a grant and circumstances have changed - for example, there has been a delay in your Research Activity because of involvement in the clinical or public health response - you can apply to vary your grant. We understand the need to be flexible in these uncertain times.

Please work with your Administering Institution’s Research Administration Officers (RAOs) as your first point of contact for all grant administration matters. Variations that may be relevant due to the impact of COVID-19 include:

  1. Deferral of commencement date
  2. Deferral of an in-progress grant and extended leave requests
  3. Extended end date
  4. Change to a research plan
  5. Change to chief investigators.

More details are available on the 'Vary your grant' page

If Administering Institutions are unable to complete and submit any grant reports, grant variation requests, or acceptance of grant offers, please contact Postaward.management@nhmrc.gov.au.  

NHMRC will continue to monitor grant variation requests and will release more information as it becomes available and in response to questions received from the sector. 

Current Grant Rounds

NHMRC has received requests for extensions from applicants to current rounds and is considering how we can accommodate and minimise impacts on peer review processes and timing of outcomes. We are considering options and will release advice on this issue as the situation unfolds.

Peer Review Processes

As part of the peer review process NHMRC usually hosts a number of face to face Grant Review Panel meetings. During the COVID-19 pandemic NHMRC will be holding any necessary meetings by video or teleconference. Peer reviewers impacted will be contacted directly by NHMRC staff to let you know the new arrangements.

Guidance on clinical trials for institutions, HRECs, researchers and sponsors

COVID-19: Guidance on clinical trials for institutions, HRECs, researchers and sponsors is a joint statement that reflects the shared views of all state and territory Departments of Health, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), NHMRC and the Clinical Trials Project Reference Group (CTPRG), of which all of these entities are members.

This guidance is published below in the Downloads section and on the Department of Health’s website

It provides general information and advice to institutions conducting or overseeing research, Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs), researchers and sponsors in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is directed towards those involved in clinical trial research and other relevant clinical research, but also may be of use to institutions, HRECs and researchers in other fields.

The advice represents current thinking and best practice at the government level and will be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect changes in government policy, public health advice and the needs of those conducting and participating in clinical research in Australia.

Research involving animals

NHMRC recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic may be affecting research involving animals, including delays to existing research projects, or new research relating to the pandemic that proposes to use animals. For advice about research involving animals, visit the animal ethics page.

National and international research efforts

NHMRC-funded researchers are fundamental to ensuring Australia’s response COVID-19 is underpinned by the latest evidence. 

Infectious diseases research is a significant area of strength in Australia and in 2019 was NHMRC’s third largest area of expenditure behind neurological diseases and cancer, with $167.9 million spent on 744 active grants. 

For example, the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE) Centre of Research Excellence was awarded $5 million in NHMRC funding over five years from 2016 until 2021. APPRISE was established through an NHMRC competitive, peer reviewed special funding call for a national multi-disciplinary team of collaborators to set priorities and develop Australia’s capacity for infectious disease emergency response research.

For more information on APPRISE.

Australian researchers are also part of the international research effort to respond to COVID-19. NHMRC is also a member of the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R), an international network of major research funding organizations which invest in research capacity and capabilities to support the rapid initiation of scientific research in case of an outbreak.

For more information, see GLOPID-R

Further information