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Health funding round provides A$12m for Covid-19 research

Image: University of Melbourne

Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council announces A$472 million for more than 250 projects

The National Health and Medical Research Council’s latest round of funding includes A$12 million for research on the Sars-Cov-2 virus.

A total of A$472m in funding was announced on 14 September, including around A$400m in Investigator Grants for projects by leading researchers. The Investigator Grants had a success rate of just under 15 per cent, with 254 awarded, ranging from A$250,000 to A$3.93m. The success rate was slightly up from 2020’s 13.3 per cent.

Another A$44m will go to 17 Centres of Research Excellence. Raina MacIntyre, a professor at the University of New South Wales, will receive funding to establish a Centre of Research Excellence aimed at mitigating airborne threats to health.

Other funded Centres of Research Excellence will address issues including childhood obesity, breast cancer, antimicrobial drug resistance and “better value” healthcare.

Recipients of the Sars-Cov-2 funding include the University of Melbourne’s Doherty institute (pictured) and the Universities of New South Wales, Queensland and Sydney.

The Doherty institute received 11 Investigator Grants, worth a total of A$17.4m, for a range of projects including investigations of T-cell functions.

‘Critical funding’

National Health and Medical Research Council chief executive Anne Kelso said the grants would “provide critical funding to enable our researchers to address the health issues faced by the Australian community, today and tomorrow, including and beyond the pandemic”.

The council recently released its corporate plan for the next four years, outlining its five main health priorities for the period. They are: strengthening resilience to emerging health threats and emergencies; improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and health equity; building capacity in research translation; preventing and managing multimorbidity and chronic conditions; and identifying and promoting the safe use of emerging technologies.

The funding announced this week is about half of the council’s annual allocation. It includes funds from a targeted call for research into end-of-life care.

Of the Investigator Grants, around 39 per cent went to work categorised as basic science, and a similar proportion to clinical medicine and science. Health services research received just over 4 per cent, down from 7.5 per cent in 2020. A total of 17 per cent went to public health research.