The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has a number of mechanisms to support Zika virus research.
NHMRC funds a large number of investigator-initiated research projects across NHMRC schemes that help Australia prepare for infectious disease threats to health. However, there is an additional need for an ongoing, coordinated national research effort against emerging infectious diseases. In late 2015, NHMRC called for applications for a national Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Infectious Disease Emergency Response Research. Applications are currently under review and it is anticipated that the new CRE will strengthen the national capacity of the Australian research sector to respond to emerging infectious disease threats such as Zika virus.
The NHMRC-EU Collaborative Research Grants scheme will provide support to Australian researchers on a European Commission (EC) Horizon 2020 call SC1-PM-06-2016 - vaccine development for malaria and neglected infectious diseases including Zika virus.
NHMRC has now opened the Northern Australia Tropical Disease Collaborative Research Programme providing another avenue for funding research on Zika virus. This programme’s objective is to support innovative high quality research into the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of tropical disease, build strong collaborations and capacity in the health and medical research workforce, and promote effective translation of this research into health policy and practice. This programme has a high potential for impact on health in Australia and the region, and Zika virus research could be included in this call for applications.
NHMRC is a member of the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness. This organisation brings together research funding organisations on a global scale to facilitate an effective research response to a significant outbreak of a new or re-emerging infectious disease with pandemic potential. Major international funders of health research such as the UK Wellcome Trust, the USA Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research are members of this group. NHMRC is in regular communication with this group about the Zika virus outbreak.