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The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is a statutory authority and the primary agency of the
Australian Government The Australian Government, also known as the Commonwealth Government, is the national government of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the ...
responsible for medical and
public health Public health has been defined as "the science and art of Preventive healthcare, preventing disease”, prolonging life and improving quality of life through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations (public and private), ...
research. It is one of the ten largest funders of health research in the world, and NHMRC-funded research is globally recognised for its high quality. NHMRC’s purposes are to fund high quality health and medical research and build research capability, support the translation of health and medical research into better health outcomes and promote the highest standards of ethics and integrity in health and medical research. These purposes support NHMRC’s mission of ‘building a healthy Australia’. Originally founded in 1926 as the Federal Health Council, NHMRC is part of the Australian Government’s Health portfolio. NHMRC’s headquarters are located in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. NHMRC also has an office in Melbourne, Victoria.


Activities

The
National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992
' provides for NHMRC to pursue activities designed to: * raise the standard of individual and public health throughout Australia * foster the development of consistent health standards between the various States and Territories * foster medical research and training and public health research and training throughout Australia * foster consideration of ethical issues relating to health. As stated in it
2019-20 Corporate Plan
these activities take place within three thematic areas: investment, translation and integrity.


Investment

NHMRC invests in health and medical research through its grant program. Funding received for health and medical research from the Australian Government and other sources through the Medical Research Endowment Account (MREA) amounted to $882.7 million in 2018-19. This amount was exclusive of NHMRC’s administrative costs, which are funded separately to the MREA. To be eligible to apply, grant applicants are required to work through an NHMR
Administering Institution
With the exception of Targeted Calls for Research and priority areas, NHMRC does not direct funding to any specific disease or health issue. Research topics are investigator driven and funding decisions are the outcome of a competitive process that relies on the collective judgement of independent peer reviewers, guided by NHMRC’
Principles of peer review
NHMRC’s grant program consists of four funding streams:
Investigator Grants
which provide the highest-performing researchers at all career stages with funding for their salary (if required) and a significant research support package.
Synergy Grants
which provide funding for outstanding multi-disciplinary research teams to work together to answer complex questions.
Ideas Grants
which support researchers at all career stages to pursue innovative and creative research projects.
Strategic and Leveraging Grants
which support research that addresses identified national needs. These grant schemes include: *
Targeted and Urgent Calls for Research
*
Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies
*
Centres of Research Excellence
*
Development Grants
*
international collaborative schemes
** Partnerships for Better Health
Partnership Centres
an
Partnership Projects
. NHMRC also funds successful applicants to attain a research-based postgraduate degree through it
Postgraduate Scholarships scheme
The funds invested by NHMRC are drawn from its Medical Research Endowment Account and from separate accounts established to hold philanthropic gifts and bequests.


Translation

One of NHMRC's primary responsibilities is supporting the effective and rapid translation of research findings into health policy and practice. Specific activities undertaken by NHMRC to support research translation include: * The development, and support for the development, o
Guidelines
for clinical practice, public health, environmental health and ethics. * Th
Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres (AHRTCs) and Centres for Innovation in Regional Health (CIRH)
which bring together researchers, healthcare providers, education and training to improve the health and well-being of patients and the populations they serve. * Th
NHMRC Research Translation Symposium
which provides attendees with an opportunity to learn and share information about research translation. * Funding schemes, includin
Partnership ProjectsPartnership CentresCentres of Research Excellence
an
Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants
* NHMRC supports national access to th
Cochrane Library
for all Australian residents. Cochrane promote evidence-informed health decision-making by translating research evidence into high-quality, relevant, accessible systematic reviews and other synthesised research evidence.


Integrity

NHMRC promotes research quality, ethics and integrity through a range of activities, including:   * NHMRC’
Research Quality Strategy
which aims to ensure the highest quality of NHMRC-funded research through the provision of guidance and support for good research practices throughout the research cycle. * The
Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018
' and its associate
guides
which are co-authored by NHMRC, th
Australian Research Council
an
Universities Australia
and present clear principles, responsibilities and processes to encourage the responsible conduct of research. * The
National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research
', which informs the design, ethical review and conduct of human research. * The
Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes, 2013
', which provides guidance for investigators, institutions, animal ethics committees, animal carers and all those involved in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. * Administration of th
Human Research Ethics Application form website
and th
National Certification Scheme for the ethics review of multi-centre research
which facilitate timely and efficient ethics review for research involving humans. * Jointly administering th
Australian Research Integrity Committee
with th
Australian Research Council
to undertake reviews of institutional processes used to manage and investigate potential breaches of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, 2018. * Reviewing and enhancing relevant guidelines and the licensing process relating to the
Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Act 2002
' and the
Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002.
' * Supporting the work of committees including th
Australian Research Integrity Committee
th
Australian Health Ethics Committee
and th
Embryo Research Licensing Committee


Impact

NHMRC’s activities lead to impacts on knowledge, health, the economy and society. Information about these impacts is available from:
Research Excellence Awards

NHMRC Analysis of Australian Health and Medical Research Publications

NHMRC Research Translation Symposium

Impact Case Studies


Organisation and leadership

NHMRC is, formally, a council consisting of the Commonwealth, state and territory chief medical officers, as well as persons with expertise in a variety of areas including: * public health * public health research and medical research issues * ethics relating to research involving humans and animals * the health needs of Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders * consumer issues (such as on community involvement in clinical trials) * business * health care training * professional medical standards * the medical profession and post‑graduate medical training * the nursing profession. This Council advises the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and is supported by the Office of NHMRC.


Committees

Section 35 of the ''NHMRC Act 1992'' allows the Minister for Health to establish Principal Committees to assist the Council to carry out any of its functions. Two such committees are required by the Act: *
Research Committee
to advise and make recommendations to the Council on the application of the Medical Research Endowment Account, and on matters relating to medical research and public health research * th
Australian Health Ethics Committee
to advise the Council on ethical issues relating to health and to develop and give the Council human research guidelines. Section 39 of the Act enables the CEO to establish working committees to help carry out the functions of the CEO, the Council or a Principal Committee. Peer Review Panels are the most common type of working committee established by the CEO.


History

In May 1923, the Australian Government called a Premiers' Conference “to devise measures for the co-operation of the Commonwealth and the States and of States with States and to provide uniformity of legislation and administration on health matters”. By agreement at the Conference, a Royal Commission on health was appointed in 1925. The report of the Commission (the Hone Report) recommended the constitution of a Federal Health Council as an advisory body which should meet at least annually for the purpose of reviewing co-operation between Commonwealth and State health authorities. The Report also recommended that the Commonwealth should provide a fund in aid of research on health questions, and establish a Council to administer it. In response to these recommendations, a Federal Health Council was established by the Governor-General (by Order-in-Council) in 1926. The secretariat to the Council was provided by the Australian Government Department of Health, which was itself established in 1921. The first meeting of the Council was held on the 25 January 1927. At its ninth session, in April 1936, the Council proposed a revision of its functions, and the Commonwealth responded to this recommendation, together with the previous proposals on research made by the Royal Commission on Health. In September 1936, a revised Order-in-Council created a National Health and Medical Research Council to replace the Federal Health Council. In addition to its previous role advising the Commonwealth and states (but not territories, as these did not exist at that time) on public health questions, NHMRC was also able to provide advice on medical research, including advice to the Commonwealth on the expenditure of money on medical research. To support this latter activity, the
Medical Research Endowment Act 1937
' was passed. This Act established the Medical Research Endowment Fund to support medical research. The ''National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992'' (
NHMRC Act 1992
'', which came into effect on 24 June 1993, provided a legislative basis for NHMRC.


Reviews

In 1998, the Health and Medical Research Strategic Review committee, chaired by Mr Peter Wills AC, presented a report to the Australian Government (''The Virtuous Cycle'') which led to a significant increase in funding for the health and medical research sector through NHMRC. Between 2000 and 2018 the number of NHMRC-funded grants – across all research grant schemes – increased from 1870 to 4241 active grants, and total expenditure from NHMRC’s Medical Research Endowment Account increased from $170 million to $861 million: a fivefold increase in funding. Following amendments to the ''NHMRC Act 1992'', NHMRC became an independent statutory agency within the Health and Ageing portfolio on 1 July 2006. The ''Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research in Australia'' ( McKeon Review) was established by the Australian Government in late 2011 and the report of the Review was publicly released in April 2013. The Review recommended a 10-year strategic health and medical research plan for the nation and included recommendations relating to NHMRC.


Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)

As part of th
2014-15 Budget
the Government announced the establishment of the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF). The MRFF provides funding to address medical research priorities, drive innovation, improve delivery of health care, boost the effectiveness of the health system, and contribute to economic growth. It therefore complements and enhances funding for health and medical research provided by NHMRC. NHMRC is assisting the Department of Health to implement disbursements from the MRFF. This assistance draws on NHMRC’s application and assessment processes and the expertise available to NHMRC through the health and medical research sector and other sources.


New grant program

NHMRC’
new grant program
commenced in December 2018 with the opening of th
Investigator Grant
scheme. The development and implementation of the new grant program involved extensive stakeholder consultation on its objectives and peer review processes.


NHMRC timeline


NHMRC governance


Chief Executive Officers

The CEO is the accountable authority of NHMRC. The role of CEO was established in 2000 through a change to the NHMRC Act 1992.


Chairs of Council

The functions of the Council, led by the Chair, are to provide advice to the CEO in relation to the performance of his or her functions.


Secretaries of the Council

Prior to the establishment of the role of CEO, a number of the CEO’s functions were performed by the Secretary of the Council.


See also

*
National Institutes of Health The National Institutes of Health (NIH) () is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and public health research. It was founded in the late 1880s and is now part of the United States Department of Health an ...
(NIH) * Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) * Medical Research Council (United Kingdom), Medical Research Council (MRC) * Australian Research Council (ARC)


References


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:National Health And Medical Research Council Commonwealth Government agencies of Australia Funding bodies of Australia Australia government stubs Health care quality Research in Australia Medical research institutes in Australia, * 1936 establishments in Australia