The eagerly awaited changes to the NHMRC’s grant program have been announced this morning. As Research Australia and many others in our sector have advocated for, they are a combination of elements from the models proposed in the consultation paper issued in the middle of last year. Importantly, these changes reflect much of the advice provided to the review panel from the sector.
Research Australia welcomes the reforms announced and notes that there is never ‘a perfect solution’ but that these changes are a positive step in the right direction and address key issues flagged by the sector. Research Australia also commends the efforts of the NHMRC CEO Anne Kelso AO and the Expert Advisory Group chaired by Professor Steve Wesselingh.
The stated aims of the changes are to:
- Encourage research that is more creative and innovative
- Provide opportunities for Australia’s best health and medical researchers at all career stages, and
- Minimise the burden on researchers in preparing and reviewing grant applications, allowing them to spend more time on research.
Continue reading “Changes to NHMRC’s Grant Program”
In its pre-Budget submission to the Treasurer, Research Australia has urged the Government to remain committed to the full implementation of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, continue funding of the MRFF’s capital in accordance with the existing timetable, and emphasised the need to at least maintain real levels of funding for the NHMRC and ARC grant programs.
The submission also raises the looming issue of the funding of indirect research costs associated with MRFF grants. Research Australia has called for MRFF grants to be included as Category 1 income for universities’ Research Block Grants and for their inclusion in the IRIISS scheme for MRIs in the short term, and echoes the MRFF Advisory Board’s call for a whole of government approach to this issue in the longer term.
Pre Budget Submission
The NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso has appointed an Expert Advisory Group to provide advice and assistance to the NHMRC in undertaking a Review of Funding Programs. A Consultation Paper was issued in July and was followed by a series of public forums in August.
Research Australia has made a submission in response to the Consultation Paper supporting the proposal for two streams of grants, one which emphasises the researchers’ track record and the other on the research proposal. The submission proposes that the limit on the number of Chief Investigators be removed and does not support a fixed duration of 5 years for grants. Research Australia supports the proposal for early career people grants with a research component, and recommends that a Fellowship Program independent of Team or Investigator grants be retained, particularly for researchers who participate in and support multiple research projects and would be adversely affected by the proposed caps on the number of grants a person can apply for or hold.
The following are some of the key announcements in the 2016-17 Budget which affect health and medical research. Information has been drawn from the budget papers, including portfolio and agency statements. The Budget papers are available here.
Medical Research Future Fund
The Budget has confirmed the Government’s continued commitment to the MRFF. However, it is now expected to meet the $20 billion target in 2020-21, a year later than first projected in the Budget in 2014 (Note 1). 2019-20 was confirmed as the target date for full capitalisation of the MRFF as recently as December last year, in the NISA Fact Sheet on the Biomedical Translation Fund (Note 2).
Continue reading “The 2016-17 Budget: Health and Medical Research”