NHMRC awards $647m to health and medical researchers


Tuesday, 19 December, 2023

NHMRC awards $647m to health and medical researchers

Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler has announced that the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is investing $379 million to support 216 emerging and established leaders in health and medical research across Australia, in order to tackle the nation’s greatest health challenges.

The funding will be provided through NHMRC’s Investigator Grant scheme, which provides high-performing researchers at all career stages with consolidated funding for their salary (if required) and a significant research support package for five years. Some of the recipients of the latest round of Investigator Grant funding are:

  • Laureate Professor Roger Smith from the University of Newcastle, who is developing a combination drug treatment to block pathways to premature contractions.
  • Professor Elina Hypponen from the University of South Australia, who is strengthening the evidence about the role diet has on health and, more specifically, on early dementia-related changes in the brain.
  • Dr Ram Bhusal from Monash University, who is hijacking the natural defence provided through the saliva produced by ticks to help unlock better ways to flight inflammation.
  • Professor Clare Parish from the University of Melbourne, who is advancing the use of human stem cells with the aim of developing new therapies for the treatment of neurological conditions.
  • Professor Philip Hogg from the Centenary Institute, who is researching a recently discovered aspect of the blood-clotting protein Factor VIII in an effort to improve treatment of haemophilia A.

This was the first Investigator Grant round to apply new gender equity targets, with the NHMRC aiming to award equal numbers of Leadership grants to women and men in the Investigator Grant scheme in order to address gender inequities in health and medical research funding. This is the first year since the launch of the scheme in 2019 where female applicants will receive an overall greater proportion of the funds compared to male applicants.

“A key strength of the Investigator Grant scheme is that it supports all researchers across all areas of health and medical research and at every career stage,” said NHMRC CEO Professor Steve Wesselingh.

“The changes this year saw more women and non-binary researchers apply for, and win, these significant grants.

“We look forward to witnessing improved gender equity at the most senior levels of Australian health and medical research in the years ahead, and reduced need for further intervention.”

The NHMRC is also awarding $268 million to 232 exceptional health and medical research projects through its Ideas Grant scheme, whose focus on innovation and creativity enables researchers at all career stages to work together to address specific research questions to advance within their field for the improvement of health for all Australians.

Successful recipients will be supported to undertake new and important research across a diverse range of health and medical challenges. The latest grants cover the spectrum of broad research areas, from basic science to clinical medicine, public health and health services research, with recipients including:

  • Dr Adi Idris from the Queensland University of Technology, who will develop a rapidly deployable nose spray targeting COVID-19 and other common cold viruses in both the lungs and the nose.
  • Professor Peter Catcheside from Flinders University, who will combine wearable sensor data with high-performance physiology and data-driven analysis methods to create personalised body-clock tracking and circadian light retiming methods to aid shift workers and those with circadian sleep disorders.
  • Associate Professor Wayne Crismani from St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, who will improve the next generation of diagnostics and management of chronic conditions (with a particular focus on Fanconi anaemia).

“The Ideas Grant scheme supports innovative research that contributes to the health of all Australians,” Wesselingh said.

“The scheme provides opportunities for researchers at every career stage to translate their ideas, whether it be formed in the laboratory, in the clinic or in the community, into deliverable evidence-based outcomes.

“The diversity across researcher career stage, discipline, disease focus and location will support a wide array of new research and answer some of Australia’s burning health and medical questions.”

Full details of the Investigator and Ideas Grant recipients can be found on NHMRC’s outcomes page.

Image credit: iStock.com/Wirestock

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