NHMRC is committed to supporting pandemic research

Over the past 20 years NHMRC has invested over $23 million in 37 projects  with a focus on pandemic preparedness.

In 2019, infectious disease was NHMRC’s third largest area of expenditure behind neurological diseases and cancer, with $167.9 million spent on 744 active grants. 

This meant that Australia’s health and medical researchers prepared for decades and responded in days to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the front foot: Centre of Research Excellence in pandemic research

Research funded includes the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE) Centre of Research Excellence. 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. The Centre was awarded $5 million in NHMRC funding over five years from 2016 until 2021. 

In April 2020, $2 million in additional funding was awarded to APPRISE to undertake a range of studies to inform the public health and clinical responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. Find out about this extra funding via NHMRC’s website.

APPRISE researchers cover many different aspects of COVID-19 research including basic biology, diagnostic tests, vaccines, epidemiology, protection of Indigenous communities and communication. 

Read our NHMRC story on APPRISE.

Keeping up with the virus 

With an annual budget of more than $850 million for its grant program, NHMRC invests in high quality health and medical research and capacity building across a broad range of disease areas and health issues. This includes supporting new grants, as well as allowing researchers to pivot to COVID-19 research where appropriate.

The team at the University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute was able to scale up a software tool they had developed with information about the protein structures encoded by the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) genome, including every known mutant protein structure – a useful tool to predict how drugs bind to the virus. 

Read more about COVID-3D. 

Which treatments will save lives in ICU?

Australia was also ready with an innovative clinical trial platform to evaluate new treatments for COVID-19. Work funded by NHMRC before COVID-19 includes REMAP-CAP, a clinical trial platform that can efficiently evaluate multiple interventions simultaneously. The system added greatly to Australia’s pandemic preparedness and was expanded rapidly in response to COVID-19, rolled out in intensive care units worldwide as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

Read more about REMAP-CAP.

Tapping into international networks

Australian researchers are 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 organisations 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 .

More information

Visit the recent changes to research funding policy made by NHMRC in response to the pandemic.

Answers to common and current questions concerning research funding are available via our FAQ page.