MRFF Funding Opportunities

Several funding opportunities are currently available under the MRFF, seeking to address a range of different diseases and issues in different health settings. They are presented in order of application closing date below.

Want to assist with assessing MRFF grants?
The Department of Health is currently seeking interest from a range of stakeholders to assist in MRFF grant review and assessment as a member of a Grant Assessment Committee. More information is available here.

Open for application now

Rapid Applied Research

This initiative will invest in research projects that encourage academic researchers and health service providers to collaborate to improve health care delivery, services and systems sustainability. The objective of this grant opportunity is to provide grants of financial assistance to support Australian medical research and medical innovation projects that:

    • use existing knowledge to develop, test and implement new approaches for the translation of research findings into health care and health interventions that have potential for broader applicability;
    • address a clearly defined gap in the implementation of best practice health care and health interventions to improve health outcomes; and
    • involve all stakeholders relevant to the research and its translation in its conceptualisation, design and implementation, including health care consumers and providers.

Applications close on 6 May.

More information is available on the Department of Industry’s Grants Hub.

Innovative Therapies for Mental Illness – Clinical Trials

$15 million is available for Australian medical research projects that use clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of innovative therapies using hallucinogens and stimulant drugs supported by psychological/ psychiatric care for treatment resistant mental illness, compared to standard therapies. The applicant must be an NHMRC Administering Institution and the program is administered by the NHMRC.
Minimum data due on 7 July.

2021 International Clinical Trial Collaborations

$12.6 million is available over two rounds, for Applications that propose a single clinical trial in Australia in collaboration with international counterparts. The clinical trial must meet specific criteria outline in the eligibility criteria and the lead applicant must be an NHMRC Administering Institution. The program is administered by the NHMRC.
Round 1:  Minimum data due 25 August 
Round 2:  Opens 26 August, minimum data due 2 February 2022

  • MRFF disbursements for 2020/21

The 2019/20 Budget confirmed $579 million is available for disbursement from the MRFF in 2020/21. The first announcements of this funding have been made.

  • On 26 February, the Government announced that three projects had been successful in securing funding in the second stage of the MRFF Frontiers Program. The three successful projects are:

    • The Stroke Golden Hour project to develop lightweight brain scanners that can be carried in ambulances. This will allow ambulance officers to provide rapid diagnosis and treatment to stroke victims, saving lives and reducing disability. ($40 million)
    • The Australian Epilepsy Project, which is providing a platform of artificial intelligence based expertise and clinical decision support. The platform will ensure all epileptics receive best practice care from their first seizure, and will also develop a data base for continuously improving precision medicine. ($28 Million)
    • 4D Functional Diagnosis, a new frontier in lung health for children that will deliver revolutionary lung scanners that are safe, rapid, and easy to use. The scanners will allow functional analysis of lung health and can be immediately applied to managing COVID-19, establishing Australia at the forefront of lung science, and kick-starting a high-value, high-tech industry. ($30 million).

More information is available here.

  • $7 million has been available for the The 2021 Neurofibromatosis Research Grant Opportunity for research to develop new interventions and improve healthcare and outcomes for people living with neurofibromatosis. 

Neurofibromatosis is a genetic condition that can causes tumours to form around nerves, including in the brain and spinal cord. It is more common in children and young adults and while there currently is no cure, treatments can help manage this condition. Announced on 10 February, this grant opportunity is part of the Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research (EPCDR) Initiative. 

  • $9 million will be available for research into the causes, biology and progression of cancer among children and young adults. Announced on 26 September, the Grant Opportunity will fund projects in two streams of research:
    1. Cancers that occur in children aged 0-14 years. 
    2. Cancers that occur in adolescents aged 10-19 years.
  • $25 million of MRFF funding was announced on 25 September for the new Quality, Safety and Effectiveness of Medicine Use and Medicine Intervention by Pharmacists grant opportunity. It will support the Quality Use of Medicine and Medicine Safety National Health Priority. Guidelines are expected to be available in early October, with applications opening shortly afterward. More information will be provided when available.
  • On 20 September the Health Minister announced that almost $6 million is being provided to fund the development of two COVID-19 vaccine candidates at University of Melbourne and a vaccine candidate at University of Sydney. All three vaccine candidates employ different approaches and/or technologies.
  • On 2 September the Minister announced funding had been provide under a range of inititiatves:
      • $5 million over five years to the National Women’s Health Research, Translation and Impact Network, (an initiative of the Australian Health Research Alliance) for research with strong potential to improve health outcomes for women and girls;
      • $5 million over four years to the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance to be a national partner providing specialised leadership and support to both investigator-led and industry clinical trials, and to Clinical Quality Registries ; and
      • more than $6.9 million to five projects to improve primary health care in the areas of contraception and abortion for rural women (Monash University), health care for people in aged care (University of South Australia), diabetes in Indigenous Australians (University of Adelaide), nutrition and heart disease (University of Newcastle), and the health of urban Indigenous people (University of Queensland).
  • On 20 August, the Government announced $25 million is available under the under the Clinical Trials Activity initiative for for clinical clinical trials to investigate effective mechanisms for the prevention and/or treatment of COVID-19 or its symptoms. Research will be conducted over three years and is expected to commence from early 2021.
  • On 27 July, the Government announced $27 million had been invested in 22 preventive and public health projects across Australia’s universities. With a focus on new ways to prevent people from getting ill, telehealth has a key role in a number of the projects. The new research will concentrate on vulnerable groups, mothers, babies and children, with a focus on improving diet, nutrition and physical activity. A full list of the projects is available here.
  • On 23 July, MTP Connect announced the results of the the third round of the BioMedTech Horizons (BMTH) program, an initiative of the Medical Research Future Fund operated by MTPConnect. $18.8 million has been awarded to  21 projects which have attracted an additional $21.3 million in industry contributions.
  • On 13 July, the Government announced that MTP Connect had been awarded $47 million over four years for the Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease (DCVD) Accelerator, to accelerate research into preventing, diagnosing and treating the conditions.This funding is part of the$260 million Preventive and Public Health Research Initiative.
  • On 29 November 2019 the Government announced the Rural, Regional and Remote Clinical Trial Enabling Infrastructure Program, which will seek to remove barriers to participating in clinical trials by improving facilities, reducing costs for patients and increasing research capacity. $100 million is available over 5 years ($20 million per annum from 2020-21).
  • On 6 October 2019 the Government announced $3 million in MRFF funding will be made available to research the benefits of medicinal cannabis for pain, symptom and side effect management for cancer patients. An open and contestable grant opportunity will fund the research, but application dates have yet to be announced. This funding will be available in 2020/21.

MRFF disbursements for 2019/20

The 2019/20 Budget confirmed $390 million is available in 2019/20 (almost double the amount available in the last financial year) and outlined a program of funding for many areas over multiple years. Detailed below are the announcements so far for 2019/20.

  • On 29 June the Government announced $19 million for medical research projects using applied artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a range of health conditions. Grants have been made to Centre for Eye Research Australia, St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney (2) and UNSW Sydney.
  • On 27 June the Government announced $8.3 million for research to tackle drug resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the Pacific region. The funding has been allocated to four projects from the Univeristy of Sydney, University of Melbourne (2) and the Burnet Institute.
  • Also announced on 27 June was a grant of $1million to Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision, to support a clinical trial of new therapies for young patients who cannot make enough blood cells due to bone marrow failure. The RESELECT clinical trial will test a number of new treatments for relapsed acquired aplastic anaemia or Bone Marrow Failure Syndrome (BMFS) in younger Australians.
  • $25.8 million in MRFF funding for neurological orders was announced on 25 June. All 10 projects are clinical trials, in areas as diverse as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and the optimal iodine supplementation in pregnancy to support neurodevelopment. The Clinical Trials will be conducted by researchers at Monash University (3), Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Newcastle, University of Melbourne, Deakin University, Curtin University, University of Adelaide and University of Sydney.
  • On 24 June, the Minister for Helath announced $35.9 million in funding for 17 projects under the Clinical Trials for Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Needs (RCRDUN) program. Recipients are at the University of Melbourne (2), University of Adelaide, University of Notre Dame, Monash University (2), QIMR Berghofer, University of Sydney (2), University of Queensland (5), UNSW Sydney and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (2).
  • On 20 June the Minister for Health announced $5.9 million in funding under the Stem Cell Therapies Mission. The eight research projects at Curtin University, Monash University and the Univeristy of Melbourne will address Parkinson’s Disease, leukaemia, macular degeneration, muscle and skin repair, autoimmune disease, fatty liver disease and epilepsy.
  • On 18 June the Government announced $8 million in funding from the MRFF, matched by $4 million from the National Heart Foundation, for research under the Cardiovascular Helath Mission. $4 million to the Stroke Foundation will fund research in partnership with Murdoch Children’s Research Instiute into the diagnosis and treatment of strokes in children. The National Heart Foundation will target CVD risk prediction, reducing heart disease in cancer patients, the poorer health outcomes for women and closing gaps in secondary prevention and cardiac rehabilitation.
  • On 16 June the Health Minster announced $9.9 million had been awarded under the Brain Cancer Mission to researchers at the Univeristy of Sydney ($4.97 million) and UNSW Sydney ($1.94 million). Both grants are geared towards improving the rehabilitation and recovery of brain cancer patients after their initial treatment.
  • On 14 June the Government announced $14.4 million in MRFF funding for nine projects related to improving Indigenous health. The projects range from avoidable deafness and blindness to chronic kidney disease and mental health.
  • On 12 June the Government announced $12 Million in funding from the MRFF Preventive and Public Health Research Initiative to six projects. These range from valuing health changes in children to modelling the impact of new cancer treatments on health services.
    On 8 June the Health Minister announced $2 million from the MRFF for MND research at the annual Cure4MND Foundation’s Big Freeze event, building on grants made at the same event in previous years.
  • On 7 June the Government announced it had awarded $13.6 million in funding to ten clinical trials in areas as diverse as childhood brain cancer, reproductive cancers, melanoma and triggers for transfusion in cardiovascular surgery.
  • On 5 June the Minister for Health announced $29 million in funding under the Cardiovascular Mission. This includes $11 million for six projects for adult CVD and stroke, and $18 million for six projects under the HeartKids Project.
  • On 2 June, the Minister announced $66 million in MRFF funding for research related to COVID-19. This included funding already being awarded to existing and new projects, and an opportunity to apply for funding for new projects.
    Projects funded include an additional $3 million to the University of Queensland’s molecular clamp vaccine development, and $2 million for stem cells used to test existing drugs as COVID-19 therapies.
  • $7.3 million has been awarded to nine research teams to support the development of promising antiviral therapies for COVID-19. The most promising of these projects will have the opportunity to bid for another $10 million of further research funding.
  • $6.8 million is being provided to support seven clinical trials investigating treatments for the severe respiratory symptoms of COVID-19.
    UNSW has received $3.3 million for genomics research into the behaviour, spread and evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • On 28 May, the Minister for Heath announced that five successful applicants would share in $9.5 million in funding for endometriosis research. The grant recipients are from Deakin University, Monash University, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, The University of Melbourne and The University of Queensland. Funded from the Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research Initiative, it follows on the launch in 2018 of the National Endometriosis Research Plan, which was accompanied by $2.5 million in MRFF funding for a targeted call for research into the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis.
  • On 25 May, the Government announced $10.3 million had been allocated through the Million Minds Mission for three research projects to help reduce the rate of suicide in Australia. The three successful projects to receive grants through the Mission are: University of Melbourne (Professor Jane Pirkis) who will receive $5.6 million to research the prevention of suicide in boys and men.
    University of New South Wales (Scientia Professor Helen Christensen AO) who will receive $3.7 million for the Under the Radar Project, to support the 60% of those who die by suicide and are not in care or receiving treatment at the time.
    Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (Associate Professor Rebecca Giallo) who will receive $951,000 to research suicide prevention among men in early fatherhood.
  • On 25 May, the Government also announced $6.75 million in funding under the Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research initiative to allow four leading researchers to investigate how pharmacogenomics can be used to tailor mental health prescriptions to the needs of each individual and improve health outcomes. The successful recipients are: Professor Jon Emery (University of Melbourne) who will receive $1.39 million to investigate the effects of using pharmacogenomics to prescribe antidepressants on depression outcomes in patients with major depressive disorder in primary care.
    Professor Sarah Medland (The Council of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research) who will receive $1.37 million to examine how we can improve the performance of pharmacogenomics in Australia.
    Associate Professor Janice Fullerton (Neuroscience Research Australia) who will receive $1 million to investigate the pharmacogenomic signatures of bipolar disorder for improving treatment outcomes.
    Doctor Kathy Wu (St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney) who will receive $2.95 million to conduct trial of genotype-guided versus standard psychotropic therapy in moderately-to-severely depressed patients
  • Marking World Ovarian Cancer Day on 8 May, the Australian Government announced $16.2 million from the Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research Initiative for eight research projects on ovarian cancer. They focus on a range of areas, including an improved understanding of risk factors for ovarian cancer, methods to assist with early diagnosis and treatment, best practice models for clinical management, and repurposing drugs for treatment-resistant ovarian cancer.
  • On On 6 May 2020, the Health Minister announced the 17 successful applicants for the first round of funding from the $500 million Genomics Mission. $33 million in funding was provided for a range of different projects covering areas as diverse as genome profiling of cancers, gene expression to diagnose sepsis in children and establishing a Centre of Ethics of Paediatric Genomics.
  • On 30 April, the Minister for Health and Andrew Forrest of the Minderoo Foundation announced a $67 million expansion of the Zero Childhood Cancer National Precision Medicine Program. $54.8 million of the funding is from the MRFF and is in addition to the $5 million contributed by the MRFF in 2018. The balance of the funding is coming from the Minderoo Foundation. All Australian children and young adults diagnosed with cancer will now have access to genomically guided, precision treatments with expansion of the program from approximately 150 children per year to 1,000 children per year.
  • On 13 April the Health Minister announced $1 million in funding has been provided to a consortium led by DetectED-X (a University of Sydney start-up) and the coronavirus Image Biobank, with support from iCoreLab and a large consortium of University of Sydney and clinical experts. The CovED initiative involves using artificial intelligence to support frontline health workers using CT scans to quickly and more accurately diagnose the severity of coronavirus in patients who are having difficulty breathing.
  • On 4 April the Government announced $1.5million in funding to establish and support the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce. Its main task will be to develop and update COVID19 ‘living clinical guidelines’ drawing on the working of the Australian Cochrane Living Evidence Consortium, based at Monash University. It has also received funding from the Victorian Government, the Ian Potter Foundation and the Walter Cottman Endowment Fund.
  • On 21 March the Government announced $15.6 million in funding from the MRFF for research related to COVID-19. $2.6 million is being allocated to the Doherty Institute,for, among other things, development of a new pathology test.$8 million is being allocated to anti viral research and a further $5 million to respiratory medicine research. These are intended to help develop effective therapies for patients with COVID-19. The Minister also foreshadowed a further announcement in conjunction with the Queensland Government a on development of a vaccine at the University of Queensland. The respiratory medicine grant opportunity opened on Monday 23, and the antiviral grant opportunity will open on Wednesday 25 March 2020.  Both grants will be managed by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
  • On 11 March, the Government announced a further $30 million will be allocated from the MRFF  for vaccine, anti-viral and respiratory medicine research as part of the Government’s response to COVID-19.
  • On 18 February the Government announced that $2 million would be available through an open contestable grant round for research into a coronavirus vaccine. The funding is being made  available under the Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research Initiative.
  • On 30 January the Government announced that it was providing $5 million in MRFF funding in a project jointly funded with Roche to use genomics to provide personalised treatments for patients with lung cancer.  The ASPiRATION study will commence enrolment from July 2020 and is being conducted by the Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Centre, the Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group and the National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Centre.
  • On 9 December, the Government announced $13.5 million would be available over three years for Indigenous-led projects to drive improvements in outcomes for four key health challenges: avoidable blindness and deafness, kidney disease, and adolescent mental health.
  • On 20 September, four grants under the Targeted Health System and Community Organisation Research initiative were announced. Totalling $6.6 million, the four programs seek to evaluate:
    •  The effectiveness of Melanoma Surveillance Photography in high-risk individuals (Monash University)
    • When breast MRIs improve patient outcomes (University of Western Australia)
    • The impact of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on the Australian economy (University of Tasmania)
    • Whether mobile x-ray units to residents of residential aged care facilities are cost effective. (University of Adelaide). These are funded following the first two targeted research calls made under this initiative in early 2019.
  • On 18 September, the Minister announced that $32 million is being provided to 7 Advanced Health Research Translation Centres (AHRTC) and one Centre for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRH). The funding is for research to influence lifestyle factors linked to chronic disease ‘that can be applied to clinical practice in the immediate future, by creating pathways between researchers and clinical health services’.  This is the latest round of funding to the AHRTCs and CIRHs under the Rapid Applied Research Translation (RART) initiative. The 10 year MRFF plan provides for funding of between $20 million and $23 million per annum as part of this program. Presumably some or all of these grants are for multiple years.
  • On 9 September the Minister announced $15 million would be made available for clinical trials into reproductive cancers: ovarian, cervical, fallopian and testicular. The grants, to open in October 2019, are from the Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need (RCRDUN) Program.
  • On 5 September the Minister announced that over the next two years, $32 million will be available for MRFF Investigator Grants for early to mid career researchers who can demonstrate experience turning research into positive outcomes for patients. The Government is seeking to support ‘translational research projects that examine high priority issues such as brain cancer, mental and cardiovascular health, genomics and stem cell therapies, healthy ageing, and Indigenous health.’ This funding is part of the Next Generation Clinical Researchers Initiative.
  • On 26 August, 10 prevention projects, totalling $11.7 million were announced. They are funded through the Medical Research Future Fund’s Keeping Australians Out of Hospital Program. The projects cover a range of different activities and strategies, from early detection of deterioration in elderly aged care residents to prevent hospitalisation (University of Queensland) to a project to reduce heart failure readmissions for patients using a nurse-led disease management program (Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute).
  • On 25 August, the Sanfilippo Foundation announced it had received $2 million in MRFF funding which it is matching with a further $500,000 for a two year project with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the University of Adelaide. The project will use patient’s own cells to grow ‘mini brains’ on which to test potential drug candidates. The MRFF funding is from the Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research initiative.
  • On 7 August, the Government announced that $8 million in MRFF funding would be made available for research into anti-microbial resistance and drug-resistant TB. The projects will be undertaken by Australian universities or medical research institutes collaborating with researchers in Pacific island countries. A further $5 million in foreign aid funding will support intensive TB detection and treatment under Australia’s Health Security Initiative for the Indo-Pacific region, administered through the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security.

MRFF disbursements for 2018/19

Detailed below are the amounts that have been announced in 2018/19. On 5 April 2019 the Department released a list of all funding ‘announced and under contract’ as at that date, available here.

  • On 3 June the Government announced $5 million in funding to tackle eating disorders from the Million Minds Mission. $3.67 million is awarded to the Inside Out Institute to establish the  MAINSTREAM Centre for Health System Research & Translation in Eating Disorders: detection and intervention system-focused knowledge to drive better outcomes in mainstream care for eating disorders.  $1.34 million was awarded to Deakin University to research leveraging digital technology to reduce the prevalence and severity of eating disorders in Australia.
  • On 11 May, the Government announced $9.6 million of MRFF funding would be awarded to the Children’s Cancer Foundation to fund the following programs:
    • $4.8 million to fund the Hudson Monash Paediatric Precision Medicine Program, which involves the establishment of a living biobank of paediatric brain tumours and solid cancers.
    • $637,500  to improve the effectiveness of treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
    • $1,177,055 for 2-year clinical research fellowships to train the next generation of oncologists in translational research skills.
    • $176,927 to use human pluripotent stem cells to model the initiation and transformation of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
    • $879,750 for a clinical trial to provide access to a new drug currently unavailable to Australian children, to improve survival rates.
    • $283,328 for brain cancer medicine trials.
    • $180,066 for clinical trials that may allow safe and effective stem cell transplant from a patient’s parent for paediatric and adolescent patients with high-risk malignancies.
    • $200,000 to develop a rapid and cost-effective clinical tool to determine the medulloblastoma molecular subtype.
    • $1,205,705 for a study to understand relapse, improve residual disease detection and develop pre-clinical testing models to identify better therapies for high-risk neuroblastoma patients
  • Around $9.5 million in Stage 1 Frontiers Program funding has been awarded to ten initial research projects for:
    1. next generation brain imaging technology for diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy.
    2. a new interface between the brain and a machine, to help people regain eyesight, movement or other nerve functions.
    3. a national database of antibiotic resistance, to allow resistant strains to be traced, isolated and treated.
    4. an Australian method for controlling the spread of Zika virus, dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases.
    5. new technologies to improve women’s sexual and reproductive health.
    6. new 4D diagnostic technology to allow accurate assessment of lung function in people of all ages.
    7. the latest genome editing technology to rapidly detect and identify infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance.
    8. therapeutic ultrasound to treat brain disorders, including dementia.
    9. test a new biomedical technology to deliver spinal cord stimulation as a treatment for cerebral palsy.
    10. new technologies to care for stroke victims before they reach hospital.

All applications were assessed by an International Scientific Peer Review Panel to ensure those recommended for funding would deliver new to world ideas and opportunities

  • On 13 April the Government announced $22.5 million in funding for the first five projects under the Million Minds Mission. There are two projects targeting child and youth mental health and three projects designed to improve access to mental health programs for Indigenous Australians.
  • On 11 April the Government announced a 10 year National Men’s Health Strategy. The Strategy incorporates $3.8 million from the MRFF for research into the causes and prevention of male infertility.
  • On 10 April the Health Minister announced $10 million in MRFF funding to  support the Menzies Multiple Sclerosis Flagship Program. The funding aims to improve the quality of life for the more than 25,000 Australians living with MS by conducting research into cures and prevention of the disease.
  • On 9 April, as part of the announcement of the National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030, the Minister for Health announced $20 million in MRFF funding for ovarian cancer research. The Minister also announced $9 million for endometriosis research. This is in addition to MRFF funding for endometriosis research announced in July 2018. A further $1.06 million will be provided from outside the MRFF to ‘…enable a ‘one-stop shop’ for endometriosis information and resources. It will also be used as a treatment tool that will refine effective treatments for endometriosis based on patient feedback and be a vehicle for promoting and supporting collaborative research.’ 
  • On 13 March, the Government committed $150 million in MRFF funding over 10 years to a new Australian Stem Cell Therapies Mission. It will be co-chaired by Stem Cells Australia program leader Professor Melissa Little and inventor of the Nanopatch Professor Mark Kendall. 
  • On 10 March the Health Minister announced $150 million over 10 years for nationally coordinated medical research to improve the recovery of patients with a traumatic brain injury.
  • On 8 March the Health Minister announced $55,000 in funding to Griffith University to trial a new malaria vaccine, PlasProtect©. The funding matches $500,000 raised by Rotary Health towards the Malaria Vaccine Project, which has developed the new vaccine.
  •  On 27 February the Government announced a 10 year, $160 million Indigenous Health Research Fund. The 3 Flagship Priorities are preventing rheumatic disease, avoidable blindness and avoidable deafness. Research projects will have a broad remit across five key themes – guaranteeing a healthy start to life, improving primary healthcare, overcoming the origins of inequality in health, reducing the burden of disease, and addressing emerging challenges.

The Program incorporates the $35 million already announced for the End Rheumatic Heart Disease vaccine initiative. An advisory panel comprising prominent Indigenous research experts and community leaders, co-chaired by Professor Alex Brown (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) and Dr Misty Jenkins (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research), will guide the Indigenous Health Research Fund investments.

  • On 26 February, the Government announced a 10 year, $220 million Mission for Cardiovascular Health. The Mission will be overseen by an appointed expert advisory panel chaired by Professor Gemma Figtree, a clinician researcher at University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospital, and will provide open and contestable grant opportunities.  ‘It will aim to reduce hospitalisations, develop clinical trials and new drug therapies, use the unique DNA of a patient to develop new therapies and also look into why people who don’t lead an unhealthy lifestyle or have a genetic cause suffer heart attacks.’ This Mission includes the recently announced $20 million in funding to help defeat congenital heart disease by better understanding genetic causes and treatment options through the HeartKids Project. The draft Roadmap for the Mission was released for consultation on 20 July 2019.
  • On 24 February the Government announced $35 million would be provided over three years to the End Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) vaccine initiative. Directed by Prof Jonathan Carapetis AM (Director of the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth) and overseen by a Scientific Advisory Board including leading Australian and International experts, the initiative will allow manufacture and testing of a number of vaccines currently in development, and fast-tracking and funding of clinical trials in Australia. The aim is to accelerate availability of a vaccine for use in Australia and internationally. The vaccine targets Group A Streptococcus and will build on the work of the Australia and New Zealand joint CANVAS initiative. Rheumatic Heart Disease is a chronic and debilitating condition, affecting heart function, which develops following repeated Strep A infections. Largely a third world disease, it is endemic in some Australian and Torres Strait Islander communities. Alarmingly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 64 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to develop rheumatic heart disease, and nearly 20 times as likely to die from it.
  • On 17 February the Government announced $22.3 million of MRFF funding over four years to MTPConnect to operate the new Biomedical Translation Bridge initiative. MTPConnect will partner with BioCurate (University of Melbourne and Monash University) and UniQuest (University of Queensland). This program will support researchers to develop their ideas and transform them into new treatments and technologies to improve patient outcomes. Successful research projects will receive between $200,000 and $1 million over a maximum of three years. A call for applications is expected later this year, with further calls every six months.
  • On 15 February, the Minister for Health announced the latest round of funding for the Rare Diseases and Rare Cancers Program. $38.6 million will support 23 new clinical trials to improve treatments and discover cures for debilitating and deadly rare cancers and rare diseases.
  • On 14 February, the Government announced a $20 million competitive research grant round focusing on congenital heart disease. The grants will be administered by the NHMRC and a call for application is expected to be made shortly for research aimed at better understanding the disease’s genetic causes and prevention and treatment options.
    The announcement is part of a broader package of funding for a National Action Plan, including $6 million from outside the MRFF to the HeartKids charity for teaching, training, and awareness.
  • On 12 February, the Government announced  the Researcher Exchange and Development within Industry Initiative (REDI). The objective of the program is to provide researchers with a diverse range of experiences and exposure to entrepreneurism with the aim of strengthening Australia’s success with translation and commercialisation to prevent, diagnose and treat disease. $32 million is available over four years. The Government is initially seeking applications from organisations interested in administering the program. On 5 January 2020, the Government announced MTP Connect as the successful bidder to administer the program.
  • On 6 February the Government announced a total of $20 million in funding for two different phenomics-based projects to support precision medicine. $10 million in funding is being provided to the Australian National Phenome Centre at Murdoch University. A partnership involving University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University, University of Notre Dame Australia and Edith Cowan University, the Centre is Australia’s first dedicated metabolic phenotyping laboratory and a hub within an international network of compatible centres. A further $10 million in funding over two years is being provided to the Australian National University (ANU) for the Phenomics Translation Initiative, a two year program to develop new diagnostic and treatment options for people living with chronic and debilitating diseases including lupus, type 1 diabetes and age-related macular degeneration. 
  • On 4 February the Government announced a total of $54.5 million in funding for research over three years into Type 1 Diabetes. $25 million will be provided to JDRF in ongoing support of its JDRF Type 1 Diabetes Clinical Research Network. JDRF’s research program has received ongoing support from successive ALP and coalition governments, and the ALP has also pledged further funding for the Research Network if it wins the next election. There is a further $4.5 million over three years to support JDRF’s administration and leadership of the research network. $25 million of the $125 million Targeted Translation Research Accelerator initiative will also be directed to diabetes research.
    On 30 January, the Government announced $30 million in funding over 5 years to the Garvan Institute as the lead institution in the Australian Parkinson’s Mission. The funding is for the trial of promising drugs to reduce the progression of the disease and allow people to live in their homes longer. Mission is an international research collaboration between the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Shake it Up Australia Foundation, The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, Michael J Fox Foundation and Parkinson’s Australia.
  • On 14 January, the Government announced it is making a $25 million contribution to the new Drug Discovery Centre at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI). The Centre, which is co-funded by WEHI, the Victorian Government and philanthropy, will open in June 2019.
  • A 10 year, $180 million Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission was announced by the Minister for Health on 18 December. Its focus will be on:
    • diagnosis, treatment and prevention of dementia;
    • falls prevention; and
    • assistive technologies.

The first funding, of $10 million, has been awarded to The Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research at the University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute, a Research Australia member. No call for grant applications has been made at this point.

  • 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  to support 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. 
  • 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 is from the MRFF Accelerated Research Program.
  • 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 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 Health, 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 seven Advanced Health 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 Diamantina 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 Health 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 University 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.