A Targeted Call for Research (TCR) is a one-time request for grant proposals that address a specific health issue where there is a significant research knowledge gap or unmet need. 

A TCR is designed to stimulate research or build research capacity in a particular area of health and medical science to the benefit of Australians. 

TCRs complement the NHMRC’s existing suite of funding schemes by providing a mechanism to respond to emerging research needs and prioritising potential topics according to their relative urgency and impact. 

This document provides an overview of how TCRs are identified, prioritised and approved. A high-level process flowchart is also provided at Figure 1. 

Identification of TCRs 

A TCR topic can be identified through the following channels: 

  • NHMRC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and/or Australian Government
  • Council, Principal Committees and/or working committees of NHMRC
  • States and Territories through the NHMRC Commonwealth State and Territories Joint (CSTJ) TCR working group
  • Consumers, community and professional groups through the Community Research Priorities Portal1

Principles for prioritising TCRs

The following principles guide the identification, prioritisation and development of topics that may warrant a TCR.

Proposed TCR topics must:

  • address a significant research knowledge gap or unmet need for which there is the potential to greatly advance our understanding of an issue, and/or
  • link to national, state and territory and/or community priorities, including research that has the potential to provide better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Proposed TCR topics should have the potential to:

  • improve health outcomes for individuals and/or community
  • reduce the burden of disease on the health system and Australian economy, and
  • contribute to the global research effort.

Approval of TCR Topics

Potential TCR topics that have been identified and prioritised through the channels listed above are recommended to NHMRC’s Research Committee for consideration. Given the limited funding available for TCRs annually, Research Committee’s role is crucial in ensuring that topics identified reflect current research priorities and needs.

If Research Committee considers a potential TCR topic a high priority, it will recommend a budget allocation from the Medical Research Endowment Account (MREA) of up to $5 million for a period of up to 5 years. Following Research Committee’s review, TCR topics are considered by Council, then approved or rejected by the NHMRC CEO.

Development of TCR Grant opportunity

If a topic is to be developed into a TCR, the scope is developed with the assistance of researchers, health professionals and consumers and community representatives relevant to the TCR topic. Their advice guides the aims, objectives and desired outcomes of the grant opportunity that must be addressed by applicants in their research proposal and ensure that the outcomes of research are relevant and see improvements in health service provision, policy formulation and health outcomes. Individuals involved in the development of the scope of a TCR are ineligible to be a part of a research team on applications submitted to the grant opportunity.

There may be instances where a planned TCR may be reprioritised as new topics emerge that are of a higher priority.

Figure 1: Process flowchart for the identification, prioritisation and approval of Targeted Calls for Research

o	This table describes the path for a TCR topic to be identified, prioritised and approved. Topics are first identified by the NHMRC CEO, Australian Government, NHMRC Council or Advisory Committees, the Commonwealth States and Territories Joint TCR Working Committee or through the Community Research Priorities Portal. Once identified, topics are considered by NHMRC’s Research Committee, Council and CEO to determine if they should be developed into a TCR. Grant opportunity guidelines are drafted, and risk assessed by the Department of Finance before being reviewed by the Minister for Health and Ageing. Once approved, the TCR grant opportunity opens for applications