NHMRC New Grant Program

NHMRC New Grant Program

In January 2016 the NHMRC CEO, Professor Anne Kelso, announced a review of the structure of NHMRC's grant program. On Thursday 25 May 2017, The Minister for Health and Sport, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, and Professor Anne Kelso, announced the new NHMRC Grant Program which will comprise of four streams. 

Investigator Grants will consolidate separate fellowship and research support into one grant scheme that will provide the highest-performing researchers at all career stages with funding for their salary (if required) and a significant research support package.

Synergy Grants will provide $5 million per grant for outstanding multi disciplinary research teams to work together to answer complex questions. 

Ideas Grants will support innovative and creative research projects, and be available to researchers with bright ideas at all career stages, including early and mid-career researchers. 

Strategic and Leveraging Grants will support research that addresses identified national needs. This will include an enhanced Targeted Calls for Research scheme and a dedicated funding stream for Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies. It also includes existing schemes such as Centres of Research Excellence, Development Grants, international collaborative schemes, and Partnerships for Better Health (Partnership Centres and Partnership Projects).

Applications for funding under NHMRC's new grant program will open in late 2018-early 2019 for peer review in 2019, and funding commencing in 2020.

Summary of the New NHMRC Grant Program 

Grant TypeInvestigator GrantsSynergy GrantsIdeas GrantsStrategic and
Leveraging Grants
PurposeTo support the research
programs of outstanding
investigators at all career
To support outstanding
multidisciplinary teams
of investigators to work
together to answer
major questions that 
cannot be answered by a
single investigator
To support focused
innovative research 
projects addressing
a specific question
To support research
that addresses 
identified national needs
Duration5 years5 yearsUp to 5 yearsVaries with scheme
Number of 
Chief Investigators
14-101-10Dependent on 
individual schemes 
FundingResearch support
package plus optional
salary support
$5 million (set budget)Based on the 
requested budget
for research support
Dependent on 
individual schemes
Maximum number of
applications allowed
per round * 
112Not capped relative to
investigator, synergy
and ideas grants.
Dependent on 
individual scheme.
Maximum number of
each grant type that
can be held ^
11Up to 2 ^Not capped relative to
investigator, synergy
and ideas grants.
Dependent on 
individual scheme.
Indicative MREA
About 40%About 5%About 25%About 30%

A maximum of two applications per round can be submitted by any individual across the Investigator, Synergy and Ideas Grant schemes. I.e. individuals may only apply for one Investigator Grant and/or one Synergy Grant and/or up to two Ideas Grants in a given application round.

^ A maximum of two grants can be held concurrently, by any individual, with the following exceptions and conditions: (1) individuals who hold two Ideas Grants can hold concurrently a Synergy Grant, (2) individuals who hold two Ideas Grants can apply for, and hold an Investigator Grant, but their RSP will be discounted until the Ideas Grant/s have ended and (3) individuals may apply for an Investigator Grant concurrently with an Ideas Grant, and if both applications are successful only the Investigator Grant will be awarded.

The Transition

Transitional arrangements will begin in late 2017 and include the introduction of capping for Project Grants, the application of a new framework for assessment and funding of clinical trials and large cohort studies and the cessation of the current Program Grant scheme. The details of the transitional arrangements will be developed on the principle that there will be no disadvantage or disruption of funding to current grant holders. 

Note that grants held by researchers, at the time of the new NHMRC grant program implementation, will be be honoured under their existing schemes. 

What will not change?

  • The purpose of NHMRC’s grant program will not change – it will continue to aim to improve human health through research.
  • NHMRC will continue to support research and research translation across the full spectrum of national health needs, fields of research, disciplines and public sector research settings through both investigator-initiated and priority-driven projects.
  • The changes will not alter the amount of funding committed to the Medical Research Endowment Account (MREA). NHMRC will manage similar levels of funding through the MREA compared to financial year 2016/17, increasing slightly over the forward estimates in line with indexation.
  • Allocation of funds from the MREA will continue to be based on research excellence, determined by independent expert review.
  • NHMRC will continue to commit at least five per cent of the annual MREA allocation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research.
  • Grants that are already held by researchers at the time of implementation will be honoured under their existing schemes.
  • NHMRC expects that the number of researchers supported directly and indirectly through the restructured grant program will not significantly change.
  • Investigator Grants will cover the range of career stages, as Fellowships do currently.
  • NHMRC will continue to support diversity in the research workforce, including researchers of different genders, those who work full-time and part-time and those with career breaks.
  • NHMRC will continue to fund postgraduate scholarships.
  • NHMRC will continue to support partnerships with end-users, commercialisation, translation and implementation science.
  • NHMRC will continue to support infrastructure costs through the Equipment Grant scheme and the Independent Research Institute Infrastructure Support Scheme (IRIISS).
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