AAMRI e-news | March 2021

AAMRI e-news | March 2021

3rd March, 2021



In this issue

  1. AAMRI news – Secure Australia’s medical research workforce
  2. Government update – Royal Commissions recommend research investment
  3. Sector news – New report on eye health
  4. NHMRC update – Investigator Grants 2021 now open
  5. MRFF update – Audit to assess the management of MRFF
  6. Other funding and award opportunities – The PM’s Prizes for Science 2021
  7. Reports and resources – Final report on Aged Care Quality and Safety
  8. Events and courses – Bridge Program 2021

Do you have something that you would like featured in a future newsletter? Send it through to communications@aamri.org.au


1. AAMRI news

AAMRI’s budget priority: Secure Australia’s world-class medical research workforce

The Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) Budget Submission calls for new strategic investments to help safeguard the future of Australia’s medical research workforce. These investments will boost Australia’s preparedness for future health challenges by providing new career opportunities to our most talented medical researchers.

AAMRI analysis on the 2020 NHMRC Grant outcomes

A new AAMRI analysis on the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) 2020 Grant outcomes has shown that the medical research institute sector had a success rate higher than the average funded rate in both major grant schemes in 2020 – Investigator Grants and Ideas Grants.


AAMRI Member Networks

AAMRI operates a variety of member networks in key business areas that discuss issues, share ideas and come together at events.

How to join our Networks

AAMRI’s staff networks connect professional staff at AAMRI member institutes with their counterparts to discuss common challenges and issues facing the medical research sector. There are currently ten active AAMRI staff networks – HR, Research Governance, Research Strategy, IT, Research Administration Officers (RAO), Philanthropy & Fundraising, Operations Network, Legal Counsel, Finance, and COVID-19. For information on AAMRI Networks, upcoming network events and how to join, visit the AAMRI website.


2.  Government update 

Royal Commission into aged care quality and safety

Among the many findings of the Royal Commission included a recommendation that research funding for aged care research be increased to 1.8% of the total Australian Government aged care expenditure.

Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health system

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has delivered its final report. Recommendations include the need for mental health research, multidisciplinary and translational research, and research into substance use or addiction. The report also recommends support for academic research networks and investment in registries.

National standard operating procedures for clinical trials and teletrials

The Department of Health has issued national standard operating procedures for clinical trials and teletrials. These are based on the International Council for Harmonisation Guideline for Good clinical practice.

South Australian Productivity Commission Inquiry report released

The South Australian Productivity Commission Inquiry into Health and Medical Research in South Australia has concluded. The inquiry examined the performance of health and medical R&D. The final report was delivered on 13 November 2020 and is now on the website.

Improving cancer survival rates in Victoria

The Victorian Government has announced the 21 recipients from the Victorian Cancer Agency’s latest grants round, who will share in more than $10 million in research grants to work on ground-breaking discoveries. The Victorian Cancer Plan 2020-24 sets a target of saving 10,000 lives from cancer by 2025.


Consultation on unlawful activity for registered charities

Treasury is seeking submissions on the changes to governance in the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Regulation 2013 to expand the scope of impermissible activities that registered charities must not engage in. Closes 14 March. 

Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure Bill) 2020

A parliamentary inquiry is under way into recently introduced legislation that will see certain infrastructure declared as critical infrastructure. This will lead to new reporting responsibilities as well as requirements to ensure infrastructure is equipped to withstand issues associated with attacks or other interference. AAMRI is examining the potential impact the legislation will have on the MRI sector.

Mitochondrial donation in Australia consultation

The Department of Health is consulting on the proposed staged approach to legalising mitochondrial donation in Australia. Closes 15 March. 

Repurposing of prescription medicines consultation

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is seeking views on potential obstacles and incentives to repurposing prescription medicines that may influence a sponsor’s decision to extend an indication for an existing medicine. Closes 23 March. 

University research commercialisation

The Federal Government has launched the University Research Commercialisation consultation paper on how to maximise the social and economic benefits of Australia’s multi-billion-dollar university research sector. Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge has invited submissions on the development of the scheme. Closes 9 April.

Genomics Health Futures Mission consultation

MRFF’s Genomics Health Futures Mission is seeking feedback on its draft Roadmap and Implementation Plan, which provides $500 million for research to deliver better testing, diagnosis and treatment. Closes 23 April. 

Stem Cell Therapies Mission consultation 

MRFF’s Stem Cell Therapies is seeking feedback on its draft Roadmap and Implementation Plan, which provides $150 million for research to develop innovative, safe and effective treatments accessible to all Australians. Closes 23 April.  

Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission consultation 

MRFF’s Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission is seeking feedback on its draft Roadmap and Implementation Plan, which provides $185 million for research to support older people to maintain their health and quality of life as they age. Closes 23 April.  

Indigenous Health Research Fund consultation 

MRFF’s Indigenous Health Research Fund is seeking feedback on its draft Roadmap and Implementation Plan, which provides $160 million for research to support the health of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. Closes 23 April. 

ANAO audit into the management of the MRFF

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is seeking submissions to its audit of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). Closes 30 May. The report will be tabled in September 2021. 

Software based Medical Devices survey

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is conducting an education campaign in order to help stakeholders understand the new framework for regulating software as a medical device. This includes the areas of the framework in which stakeholders need more information and how this information should be presented. Closes 24 November.

Data Availability and Transparency Bill submission

Research Australia is making a submission to the Senate Committee in support of the Data Availability and Transparency Bill which is intended to improve researcher access to datasets held by Commonwealth Government Departments and Agencies. They are looking for:

  • case studies of the public benefits that can be achieved from the use of health data and
  • examples of research projects that were significantly delayed or prevented because of the refusal/failure of a Commonwealth Government Department or agency to provide access to data.

To contribute, please contact Greg Mullins, Head of Policy at greg.mullins@researchaustralia.org.

Westmead Institute’s licence application

The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) is preparing a Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan for a licence application from the Westmead Institute of Medical Research to conduct a clinical trial. The trial will evaluate the safety and efficacy of GM E.coli to deliver genes to gut bacteria that restore sensitivity to antibiotics. Expected release date for public comment: Late April 2021. Copy of the application is available on request.


3.  Sector news

New report on eye health

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released a new report on eye health showing over 13 million Australians had one or more chronic eye conditions in 2017-18.

Join Us!

Over 50 research, education, industry and consumer organisations are meeting to consider becoming collaborators in Join Us, a new research register established by The George Institute. The aim is to recruit a million Australians willing to be contacted about research relevant to them.


4.  NHMRC update

Investigator Grants 2021 now open

The Investigator Grants 2021 round is now open. Closes 31 March.
In addition to the Grant Guidelines, the following resources are available for applicants:

Synergy Grant scheme now open

The Synergy Grant scheme for funding commencing in 2022 is now open. Minimum data is due 24 March. Closes 21 April.

Changes to NHMRC Peer Review for Ideas Grants

The NHMRC has announced a number raft of changes for the peer review process for Ideas Grants in 2021. This includes the discontinuation of grant review panels, an increase to the number of reviews per application, and written feedback to be provided to applicants.

Ideas Grant scheme – key application dates

The Ideas Grant scheme for funding commencing 2022 is scheduled to open 10 March. Minimum data is due 7 April. Closes 5 May. 

Relative to Opportunity Policy revised

NHMRC has revised its Relative to Opportunity Policy for track record assessment and is also trialling a new approach to assessment of Relative to Opportunity considerations in the 2021 Investigator Grant round.

NHMRC consultation on guidelines

NHMRC is currently seeking the views of guideline developers about guideline impact: What does impact mean to you, how you collect or use impact data and how do you evaluate impact.

NHMRC funding calendar

NHMRC keeps an up to date list of funding opportunities on its website where you can find out which schemes will be opening soon.


5.  MRFF update

Audit to assess the management of MRFF

The Australian National Audit Office is undertaking an audit to assess whether the Department of Health is effectively managing the MRFF under these three criteria:

  1. Are the MRFF governance arrangements effective?
  2. Has MRFF legislation, governance, strategies and priorities guided selection of medical research initiatives?
  3. Does Health effectively monitor, measure and evaluate MRFF’s performance?

The due date for this audit is September 2021.

MRFF Frontiers Grants Outcomes: $100 million for medical research technology

The MRFF will invest $100 million through the Frontier Health and Medical Research initiative in three projects in the areas of stroke, lung health and epilepsy.

MRFF Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Strategy 2020-21 to 2023-24

The Department of Health has released the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Monitoring, evaluation and learning strategy 2020-2021 to 2023-2024. The Strategy sets out the principles and approach used to monitor and evaluate the MRFF and aims to establish a learning system for continued improvements within the MRFF.

Consultation on MRFF Missions

Six of the Medical Research Future Fund’s research missions are currently undergoing national consultation. To assist the public in developing submissions, webinars are being held for each mission. You can register on the links below:

  1. Traumatic Brain Injury Mission Consultation, 5 March
  2. Cardiovascular Health Mission Consultation,10 March
  3. Stem Cell Therapies Mission Consultation, 11 and 26 March
  4. Genomics Health Futures Mission Consultation, 16 and 25 March
  5. Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission Consultation,19 March
  6. Indigenous Health Research Fund Consultation, 23 and 30 March 

All submission close on 23 April. 

Current funding opportunities

See AAMRI’s summary of current MRFF grant opportunities, open and closing dates for applications and how to apply.

Subscribe to the MRFF newsletter

To stay updated about MRFF-related changes, you can review the previous editions of the MRFF newsletter and subscribe to their email list.


6.  Other funding and award opportunities

Funding opportunities


Award opportunities

The PM’s Prizes for Science 2021

Nominations for The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 2021 – for outstanding achievements of Australian scientists and innovators – are now open. Closes 9 March. 

Nominations open for the ACTA Trial of the Year 2021

The Australian Clinical Trials Alliance’s (ACTA) Trial of the Year Award recognises outstanding achievements of its Members, who advance clinical practice and improve the lives of patients through investigator-driven clinical trials. Nominations are open for a ground-breaking clinical trial published in 2020 by a current ACTA Member. Closes 14 March.


7.  Reports and resources

Research data from the Royal Commission into Aged Care

The datasets and metadata from two of the Royal Commission’s surveys are now available:


8. Events and courses

Guidelines and impact – the art of storytelling

NHMRC’s Dr Alex Aitken and Dr Kiah Evans from the Telethon Kids Institute will discuss how to demonstrate guideline impact at a GIN-ANZ webinar. When: 12 March, 11-12pm AEDT.

COVID-19 vaccines – Your questions answered

The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity is hosting a Q&A event on COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Australia. When: 16 March, 6-7:30pm AEDT.

Register for Shifting Gears 2021 Summit

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) is hosting the first Australasian conference on consumer leadership and experience in health care. The event will draw together consumers and other leaders from the health sector. When: 18-19 March.

Bridge Program 2021 – apply now

Fully funded by industry and government, and delivered by Queensland University of Technology, the Bridge program selects 100 participants from across Australia to take part in face-to-face and online trainings that contribute to the commercialisation of new medicines. Closes 21 March. 

Your events!

Get in touch with us about your events and we’ll list them here.


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