MRFF Funding Opportunities

Stage 1 of the MRFF Frontiers Program is now accepting applications for collaborations to explore bold and innovative ideas in the health and medical research sector and/or make discoveries of great potential and global impact.

Stage One supports the development of a detailed research and implementation plan that will form the basis of a Stage Two application. The research plan will cover up to five years of activity to take your idea from concept to outcome. You must demonstrate how your idea is novel and transformative, and how you will bring together multi-disciplinary research and industry partners to transform your idea into practical benefit for Australia.

The Stage One grant opportunity will fund up to ten projects. For this Stage One grant opportunity, up to $10 million is available. The minimum grant amount is $250,000. The maximum grant amount is $1 million.

The MRFF – Keeping Australians Out of Hospital grant opportunity supports research into evidence-based, implementable and scalable preventive health measures that aim to prevent the development, or promote better management of complex and chronic health conditions, improve quality of life for people with these conditions and keep them out of hospital.  Administered by the NHMRC, minimum data is due by 16 January 2019.

The Million Minds Mission has identified three initial priorities: child and youth mental health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Helath, and eating disorders. A call will be issued later in 2018/19 for research projects to be funded through the mission.

MRFF disbursements for 2018/19

The 2018/19 Budget has confirmed that $222 million will be available in 2018/19 and outlined a program of funding for many areas over multiple years. Detailed below are the amounts that have been allocated so far for 2018/19.

  • On 4 December, the Minister for Health announced $3 million in funding for a research program for stillbirth research, to be guided by a National Action and Implementation Plan. There is also $3 million for stillbirth education and awareness programs. This funding is part of the Government’s response to the report of the Senate Select Committee on Stillbirth Education and Research.
  • On 22 October the Prime Minister announced $4 million in funding to the St George and Sutherland Medical Research Facility to better understand the human microbiota. $2 million of this funding will be drawn from the MRFF.  The funding boost will ‘help researchers better understand how restoring the balance of microbiota through, for example, eating a healthy diet and increasing physical exercise, can prevent and cure disease. This funding will also support a new study into the role of the microbiome in pregnancy and its outcomes in the mothers and their babies.’ It follows $4 million in funding from the Commonwealth in 2017 to establish the Microbiome Research Centre at St George Hospital, due to open in February 2019.
  • $11.5 million is available for the The MRFF – Keeping Australians Out of Hospital Grants.
  • On 6 October the Minister for Health announced $1 million in funding to the National Stroke Foundation for the Return to Life, Return to Work research package. The research will focus on rehabilitation for working age people, and include a clinical trial of Perispinal Etanercept to reduce inflammation in the brain.
  • On 11 September, $10 million in funding for six new Clinical Trials was announced, targeting: pancreatic cancer; traumatic brain injury; rare skin tumours; myeloma; myelofibrosis; anda pioneering treatment for high mortality cancers, such as glioblastoma. The funding has been awarded to researchers at LaTrobe University, Monash University, University of Melbourne, and the University of Sydney.
  • On 6 September, the Minister for Heath announced the creation of the Prostate Cancer Research Alliance, which will focus on stopping prostate cancer progressing to advanced, more deadly stages; and improving treatments and life expectancy for men with advanced prostate cancer. The MRFF’s Accelerated Research Program will contribute $2 million per year for three years from 2018/19, matched by $6 million from the Movember Foundation. Funding will be provided through an open, national, competitive grant round, expected to open by the end of October.
  • On 13 August, The Minister for Health announced $7.4 million in funding from the MRFF for a range of Fellowships. These will support researchers working on a range of issues, including improved care for premature and sick babies, arthritis and osteoporosis, online treatments for youth depression and anxiety and improved health for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • On 1 August 2018, the Minister for Health announced $3 million for stem cell research, including projects that aim to tackle congenital heart disease and genetic defects that cause blindness in children. The funding, from the Accelerated Research Program, was awarded to
  • On 26 July, the Minister for Health launched the National Action Plan for Endometriosis. As part of this, he provided further informant about how the $2.5 million of funding from the MRFF, announced in March 2018, will be utilised. It will fund a targeted call for research; a national clinical trials network; and an Australian Collaborative Research Framework.
  • On 25 July, Minister Hunt announced that $3.6 million of the $5 million allocated to CanTeen in 2017 would be used to  to run four clinical trials which will support 260 patients with brain cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and bone cancer.
  • On 22 July 2018, the Health Minister announced that $1 million would be provided to Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision. The funding will ‘support at least three new medical researchers over three years to undertake vital research and clinical trials in Australia into better treatments and ultimately cure for bone marrow failure.’
  • On 17 July, the Minister announced $6.1 million was being allocated to the South Australian Academic Health Science and Translation Centre, which is undertaking vital research projects in areas such as bowel cancer, cardiac rehabilitation and reducing the risk of preterm births.
  • On 16 July 2018, the Health Minister announced that $5 million from the Australian Brain Cancer Mission, which is funded by the MRFF and philanthropy will go to the Zero Childhood Brain Cancer Initiative, itself a part of the broader Zero Childhood Cancer Initiative. The initiative is a collaboration of Australian researchers and clinicians, led by the Children’s Cancer Institute and The Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick.
  • On 13 July 2018, the Minister for Health announced that $22.3 million will be available over four years from 2018-19 through the Biomedical Translation Bridge grant opportunity. It will support one or more organisations to fund and nurture early stage health and medical research ventures to reach proof-of-concept stage with potential to attract further capital and support.
  • On 3 July 2018, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced $6 million in funding over three years for Sydney Partnership for Health Education Research and Enterprise (SPHERE) and the same amount to Sydney Health Partners. These organisations are Advanced Health Research Translation Centres and the funding is part of the Rapid Applied Research Translation Initiative under the MRFF.
  • On 24 June 2018,  the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced $33 million in funding to the third round of the Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need Clinical Trials Program. The applications are administered by the NHMRC and close on 15 August 2018.

MRFF disbursements for 2017/18

$121 million is available for allocation from the MRFF in 2017/18. Announcements for the 2017/18 financial year are detailed below.

  • On 18 June 2017, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced $2 million in funding to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation with a focus on four priority areas including the making of early diagnosis and treatment of cerebral palsy the standard of care in Australia, clinical trials of new interventions in high risk infants, a trial of TheraSuit® intensive therapy and new therapies to prevent cerebral palsy during pregnancy.
  • On 14 June, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced the MRFF will provide $2.4 million to the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Excellence in Rural and Regional Health in Burnie.
  • On 4 June, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced that as part of the Big Freeze 4 fundraising event at the MCG, the Coalition Government will match donations, dollar-for-dollar, up to $2 million to invest in new clinical trials for Australians suffering from MND. This repeats the funding provided from the MRFF in 2017.
  • On 16 May, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced $6.1 million for Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre, enabling it to build on research it has already undertaken in areas such as data linkage, women’s and children’s health, cancer, diabetes, infections, heart disease and many more areas of health. The funding from the MRFF builds on an earlier $2.22 million grant provided to the Centre through the MRFF.
  • On 14 May, the Minister for Health Greg Hunt, announced that $6.1 million would be made available to Melbourne Academic Centre for Health (MACH), with the funding going towards further research in a number of different areas that are yet to be determined.
  •  On 13 April  The Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie, announced $6.1 million has been awarded to Diamantina Health Partners over three years for a range of programs to  support the translation of research into healthcare. Diamantina Partners is an NHMRC designated Advanced Health Research Translation Centre, and this funding is provided as part of the ongoing funding to AHRTCs and Centres for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRHs).
  • On 21 March the Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced  NSW Regional Health Partners, one of two NHMRC designated Centres for innovation in Regional Helath, will receive $6.1 million over 3 years from the MRFF to fund translational research into strategies to improve the delivery of care. Examples given include investigating best practice models for telehealth and aged care, and changing community behaviour through healthy weight strategies.
  • Marking National Close the Gap Day on 15 March, the Minister for Health announced MRFF funding of $6 million over three years to the Central Australian Academic Health Science Centre (CAAHSC). The CAAHSC was recognised in July last year by the NHMRC as a Centre for Innovation in Regional Health, and has an emphasis on Indigenous-led and community controlled research. This funding is provided as part of the Rapid Applied Research Translation Program, designed to support the translational research efforts of the the seven Advanced Helath Research Translation Centres and the two Centres for Innovation in Regional Health. It follows the announcement last year of MRFF funding of $10 million under this Program to the Academic Health Research and Translation Centres.
  • On 6 March 2018, the Minister for Health announced a National ‘million minds’ Health Mission, focussing on mental health, to be funded from the MRFF. The plan for the Mission is to be developed ‘over the next six months’, including details of what the MRFF will fund.
  • $2.5 million will be available for a targeted call for research onto the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis. The funding was announced by the Health Minister on 2 March 2018 as part of the Government’s development of a National Action Plan for Endometriosis. The funding forms part of the Accelerated Research Program within the MRFF, designed to stimulate targeted research in areas of identified unmet need.
  • $70 million over 5 years from 2017/18 for the Next Generation Clinical Researchers Program. $10 million of this will be available from the 2017/18 disbursements for Fellowships. commencing in 2019, rising to $20 million in subsequent years. This funding is in addition to the $8 million in funding for Fellowships announced in 2016/17, and which commenced in 2018. On January 18 2018 the Minister announced 21 Next Generation Clinical Research Fellowships, worth a total of $10 million.
  • $50 million from the MRFF, to be matched dollar for dollar by philanthropy will be available over multiple years from 2017/18 for the Australian Brain Cancer Mission. Prioritised first investments include the establishment of an Australian arm of the GBM AGILE, an international adaptive trial platform for adults with glioblastoma, new funding for Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology Oncology Group (ANZCHOG) clinical trial centres, and support for the consolidation of the national ZERO Children’s Cancer initiative.
  • A further $30 million in funding will be allocated to the Biotech Horizons Program over the next four financial years. This builds on the initial $5 million allocated in 2016/17 which is being administered by MTPConnect. On 17 April, MTPConnect and the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP announced the first 11 recipients of $10 million. The funding round  focused on supporting cutting-edge ideas in precision medicine and 3D anatomical printing towards proof-of-concept and commercialisation.
  • On 24 January 2018 the Minister announced that $26 million in funding has been awarded to 19 projects as part of the Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Needs Clinical Trials Program (formerly the Lifting Clinical Trials and Registries Program). Initially announced in 2016/17 as $13 million over four years, this announcement has doubled the initial allocation. The clinical trails are across the areas of rare cancer, rare disease and unmet need. A further $10 million targeted grant round for clinical trials into Low Survival Cancers and Diseases (LSCD) was announced, and closed in April 2018.

MRFF disbursements for 2016/17

$65.9 million is available for the allocation from 2016/17

  • $8 million is to be allocated across the four pre-existing NHMRC Advanced Health Research Translation Centres (something Research Australia has advocated for over a year). Of this amount, Monash Partners AHRTC is receiving $2 million for research and initiatives to improve care in blood and lung cancer, cardiovascular disease diabetes dementia, and improve influenza vaccination rates. Sydney Health Partners AHRTC has been allocated $2.2 million for three programs, to address lower back pain, improve recruitment for clinical trials, and address gaps in the health system.  Detail of the other AHRTCs’ research programs has yet to be announced.
  • $2 million to support new and existing Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres (AHRTCs) and the two soon-to-be-announced Centres for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRHs) to work together on national system-level initiatives. Of this amount, $225,000 has been allocated to the recently announced Dimantina Partners AHRTC, and $225,000 to the newly announced The SPHERE (Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise) AHRTC. A further $225,000 has been allocated to NSW Regional Health Partners, a freshly minted CIRH.
  • $10 million in funding will be provided to The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (TAPCC) to generate effective low-cost solutions to address chronic disease and childhood obesity. On 1 February 2018, the Helath Minster announced funding of more than $500,000 for the first of the projects under the Boosting Prevention Program- a research program by Professor Fiona Blyth AM into better management of chronic pain in primary care. On 15 March 2018, the Minister announced that $740,000 had been awarded to University of Queensland researchers to undertake a world-first project, in collaboration with Aboriginal communities, to find ways to improve Aboriginal food security and dietary intake in cities and remote areas.
  • $5 million for new targeted clinical trial activity for adolescents and young adults with cancer, to be administered by CanTeen.
  • $13 million over four years to increase clinical trials and registries’ capacity (the Lifting Clinical Trials and Registries Capacity Program). This includes funding for networks of investigators and service providers that work together, to identify and evaluate new approaches that will optimise healthcare effectiveness. A targeted call for funding applications is being administered by NHMRC, with funding to commence in January 2018. Funding of $1.2 million to the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and $500,000 to Univeristy of Melbourne was was announced on 18 January 2018 for two clinical trials for treatment for ataxia. On 24 January 2018 the Minister announced that the total allocation has been increased from $13 million to $26 million in response to the quality of the applications received. 19 projects have been funded, including the two ataxia projects announced a week earlier. These are across the areas of rare cancer, rare disease and unmet need.
  • $5 million over four years to the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA) as the national alliance partner to build the capacity of clinical trials networks.
  • $8 million to boost the scale of three existing NHMRC Fellowship schemes- Career Development Fellowships, (early to mid-career researchers in clinical, population health, biomedical and bioinformatics fields); Translating Research into Practice Fellowships (health professionals translating evidence into healthcare and public health improvements) and Practitioner Fellowships (implementing evidence-based practice among clinical, public health and health service professionals). Fellowship awards will be announced from early 2017-18.
  • $2 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a new international initiative to address critical research and development gaps for pandemic preparedness and global health security.
  • $5.9 million for antimicrobial resistance to address knowledge gaps in relation to the development and spread of resistance; and the development of new products, including diagnostic technologies and therapies, policies and approaches to prevent, detect and respond to resistance. (Targeted call for funding applications being administered by NHMRC, with funding to commence in January 2018.)
  • $5 million to establish the Biotech Horizons program, to provide early stage pre-clinical support for biotechnologies.
  • $2 million to Cure4MND for clinical trials for adults with MND. This amount was provided as matching funding to public donations to Cure4MND’s ‘Big Freeze 3’ fundraising campaign.