MEDIA RELEASE

Today, President of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and Chair of the Australian Medical Research Advisory Board, Professor Ian Frazer AC, joined the Minister for Health and Sport, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, and Professor Steven Wesselingh, chair of the review Expert Advisory Group and Academy Fellow at Parliament House, to hear Professor Anne Kelso AO, Chief Executive Officer of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) announce significant changes to the structure of the NHMRC’s grant program.

The NHMRC undertook a Structural Review in response to calls from the research sector to reduce the unsustainable burden on grant applicants and peer reviewers. Through the improvements to its grant funding program, the NHMRC intend to ensure continued support for Australia’s world-leading health and medical researchers. The restructured grant funding program will be implemented in late 2018 – early 2019, for peer review during 2019 and funding in 2020.

The Academy commends the vision, which has driven the development of the revised funding program. Five year funding of successful career researchers’ applications, and of innovative research programs tackled by individual researchers or by synergistic groups, will provide enhanced opportunity for research productivity.  It will encourage higher risk, high potential gain research, and will enable younger investigators to show their talent.  The restructure of the Investigator funding scheme should also allow clinician researchers with clinical commitments to fund dedicated time to direct their research program. Overall, the burden of application for funds should also be considerably reduced.  All of these measures will contribute synergistically with the increased funding for Health and Medical Research through the disbursements from the Medical Research Future Fund, and should result in increased research output, and increased potential for translation of that research output into better health for Australia and globally.

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