AAMRI Update: NHMRC Review finalised

AAMRI Update: NHMRC Review finalised

25th May, 2017

More creative and innovative research expected from Australia’s best and brightest as the NHMRC finalises changes to its grants program

Australia can look forward to seeing more innovative and creative research coming from its best and brightest researchers thanks to significant improvements to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) grant program.

AAMRI will be undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the changes and will send this through to you as soon as it is complete.

Based on our analysis to date, AAMRI President Professor Tony Cunningham AO said the changes would free-up researchers’ time and stimulate more innovative research projects thanks to streamlined grant applications.“These changes announced today by the NHMRC will allow our brightest scientists to do what they do best and that’s medical research, instead of being overly burdened by preparing and submitting grant applications on a frequent basis, often taking them months to complete,” Professor Cunningham said.

“We welcome the NHMRC’s changes and look forward to seeing even better and more creative medical research underway in Australia thanks to increased flexibility in the grant program, allowing researchers more freedom to respond to new and evolving health challenges.”

The changes follow extensive consultation by the NHMRC after frequent calls from the sector for reform, and include:

  • Investigator Grants to provide both fellowship and research support in one grant.
  • Synergy Grants to provide $5 million per grant for outstanding multidisciplinary teams.
  • Ideas Grants to support innovative projects for researchers with bright ideas at all career stages.
  • Strategic and Leveraging Grants to support research that addresses identified national needs.

Limits will apply to the number of applications and grants held by each Chief Investigator.
Professor Cunningham said he was happy to see that the program will provide opportunities for researchers at all stages of their career.

“The new Ideas Grants are a really terrific development,” he said. “Applications will primarily be judged on the quality of the research proposal alone, rather than the past track-record of the researcher. This will level the playing field and allow the next generation of great minds to better compete with senior researchers for research funding.

“The changes will also provide improved career certainty for many researchers thanks to a lengthening in funding timelines, along with better support and job security for researchers at all career stages.”

Professor Cunningham congratulated NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso on conducting such an extensive review, and on the NHMRC’s ability to consolidate such wide-ranging views in developing these changes.

“In recent years grant applications have surged and record low numbers of applications received funding,” Professor Cunningham said.

“We anticipate that these changes will bring dramatic improvements to these numbers while creating an environment that fosters innovation, productivity and a greater sense of security among the research sector.”

Professor Cunningham said the focus will now be on ensuring the transition to the new program goes as smoothly as possible.

“This will be a big change in how we fund medical research through the NHMRC,” he said. “AAMRI looks forward to working with the NHMRC to ensure a smooth transition to the new program.”