Academy welcomes changes to NHMRC grant funding

Tiny foot of a premature baby, wrapped in a bandage
Reforms should help the NHMRC to fund research in a more targeted and equitable way.

The Academy welcomed changes to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s grant funding program announced in May.

The reforms should assist the NHMRC to fund and support health and medical research in a more targeted and equitable way.

The Academy considers that the changes will provide better opportunities for outstanding early- and mid-career researchers, and will address concerns about the potential for loss of creativity in research. Previously, funding applications for new ideas that pushed the boundaries may have had less prospect of success.

The new two-step review of applications will take pressure off both applicants and reviewers, freeing up researchers to get on with solving health and medical research challenges.

Assessment of some grants under the new arrangements will be blinded to gender, age, career stage and institution.

The reforms include replacing the longstanding Fellowship scheme and the Project and Program grants programs with three new streams, through which the majority of the NHMRC’s research budget will be allocated.

Australia is a world leader in many areas of health and medical research, from the Nobel Prize winning discovery of the cause of gastric ulcers, to spray-on skin and the cervical cancer vaccine. Investments in health and medical research by the NHMRC have had direct, beneficial outcomes for Australians.

As the size and complexity of research required to improve health outcomes increases, these changes will help ensure the robustness of funding structures that support medical researchers.

© 2022 Australian Academy of Science