NHMRC gives $2m for COVID-19 research in areas of urgent need

April 13, 2020

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) will provide an additional $2m of funding for COVID-19 research that will generate maximum benefits for the Australian public.

The funding is for nine critical COVID-19 research projects as part of the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE).

The nine projects cover a range of research areas, with aims such as:

  • understanding the number of people in Australia who have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) using a blood test
  • strengthening clinical trials including an interventional study in intensive care patients and observational studies, including children
  • point-of-care testing for influenza and COVID-19 in nursing homes
  • understanding the prevalence and understanding of COVID-19 in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute), a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital, and chief investigator for APPRISE said the projects are all focused on research to inform the national and international COVID-19 response.

“Our rapid research response includes a special focus on public health and clinical research and in specific populations at highest risk, including aged care and First Nations people.”

“Our multidisciplinary research team is spread across Australia and has been working collaboratively and in partnership with government agencies as well as preparing for a pandemic such as COVID-19 since we were established in 2016. This has enabled us to fast track our COVID-19 related research,” Professor Lewin said.

“APPRISE was established by the NHMRC to prepare Australia for a pandemic, with a trigger available for additional funding for a rapid research response to an emergency such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

Professor Lewin said that together with the new funding announced today, APPRISE has now mobilised more than $4.6m in funding for urgent COVID-19 research including $2m from the Paul Ramsay Foundation and more than $600,000 for fast-tracked projects.

“Normally this would take months to do, but we were ready to do this collaboratively and with great speed.”

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