National Health and Medical Research Council Strategic Plan 2000 ...
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iStrategic Plan 2000 – 2003
National Health and Medical
2000 – 2003
N H M R C
National Health and Medical Research Council
ii National Health and Medical Research Council
© Commonwealth of Australia 2000
Electronic ISBN 1864960213
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The strategic intent of NHMRC is to provide leadership and work with other
relevant organisations to improve the health of all Australians by:
q fostering and supporting a high quality and internationally recognised
q providing evidence based advice;
q applying research evidence to health issues thus translating research into
better health practice and outcomes; and
q promoting informed debate on health and medical research, health ethics and
related policy issues.
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iiiStrategic Plan 2000 – 2003
C O N T E N T S
Central themes of the Strategic Plan 2
The goals of the NHMRC 3
Statement of Strategic Intent 3
The role of the NHMRC 3
The external strategic environment 4
Community involvement 4
Information management 5
Major national health issues facing the NHMRC 5
Relationships within the NHMRC 6
Key strategies 9
Committee strategies 9
Health Advisory Committee 9
Research Committee 10
Strategic Research Advisory Committee 11
Australian Health Ethics Committee 11
Performance measures 12
Appendix 1 Research outcomes evaluation model 13
Knowledge, information and training for developing better
strategies to improve the health of the Australian community 15
Figure 1 Structure of the NHMRC 2
Figure 2 Research outcomes framework 14
1Strategic Plan 2000 – 2003
The National Health and Medical Research Council (the NHMRC) is a statutory body
established under the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 (the
The Act sets down four statutory obligations for the NHMRC:
1. To raise the standard of individual and public health throughout Australia.
2. To foster the development of consistent health standards between the States
3. To foster medical research and training and public health research and
training throughout Australia.
4. To foster consideration of ethical issues relating to health.
Each Council is appointed for a three-year term, requiring the drafting of a Strategic
Plan to guide its work for the triennium.
The NHMRC is unique among national research funding and advisory bodies
because it consolidates within a single national organisation the often-independent
functions of research funding and development of advice. Its great strength is that it
draws upon all components of the health system including governments, medical
practitioners, nurses and allied health professionals, biomedical and social science
researchers, teaching and research institutions, public and private program
managers, service administrators, community health organisations, and consumers.
The strategies set out in this Strategic Plan are designed to achieve outcomes in
research, advice, and health ethics.
These outcomes are contributed to by the four Principal Committees of the NHMRC
namely the Research Committee, the Strategic Research Development Committee,
the Health Advisory Committee and the Australian Health Ethics Committee.
The NHMRC reports on its activities annually to the Minister for Health and Aged
Care and, towards the end of every triennium, provides the Minister with a major
review of implementation of its Strategic Plan.
The work of the NHMRC and its Committees is, in turn, supported by the Office of
the National Health and Medical Research Council. Recent amendments to the
National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 established the position of
Chief Executive Officer. An appointment to this position will be made early in this
2 National Health and Medical Research Council
Figure 1 Structure of the NHMRC
CENTRAL THEMES OF THE STRATEGIC PLAN
In this triennium the NHMRC faces particular challenges resulting from recent rapid
developments in biotechnology, globalisation and commercialisation, coupled with
the increasing importance of population-based and preventative approaches to
health and the emergence and re-emergence of specific diseases. However a
number of opportunities also present themselves, pre-eminent of which is
significantly increased research funding over the triennium. Rapid change in the
external environment requires the NHMRC to be particularly responsive and to
work more effectively with others in Australia and overseas.
Collaboration and communication are key themes in this plan.
The NHMRC needs to communicate the results of its work—whether research or
health advice—to the Australian community. This communication must be effective.
Collaboration and partnerships with key organisations will assist effective
A major thrust of the NHMRC’s strategies will be to maximise collaboration between
its Principal Committees to strengthen its ability to respond to emerging issues. In
addition, collaboration with key partners will further strengthen the NHMRC’s
relevance and responsiveness to local, national and international issues.
This Strategic Plan sets out the NHMRC’s goals, its role in achieving those goals,
and the responsibilities of the Principal Committees in contributing to the NHMRC’s
Figure 1 below shows the structure of the NHMRC.
3Strategic Plan 2000 – 2003
THE GOALS O F THE NHMRC
1. The NHMRC will provide leadership to enhance an effective Australian health
and medical research sector and promote high impact research.
2. The NHMRC will support research within an ethical framework that meets the
high standards expected by the Australian and international communities.
3. The NHMRC will develop health advice based on the best available evidence.
STATEMENT OF STRATEGIC INTENT
To achieve these goals the NHMRC will provide leadership and work with
other relevant organisations to improve the health of all Australians by:
q fostering and supporting a high quality and internationally recognised
q providing evidence based advice;
q applying research evidence to health issues thus translating research
into better health practice and outcomes; and
q promoting informed debate on health and medical research, health
ethics and related policy issues.
THE RO LE OF THE NHMRC
The NHMRC is an independent, trusted and authoritative source of health
information and advice to the wider Australian community. As such the NHMRC
plays a leading role in protecting and improving the health of all Australians. This
role is demonstrated through the development and funding of high quality research,
within an ethical framework, and the application of the best available evidence to
advice on a range of individual and population health issues. Furthermore, the
NHMRC is committed to continuous monitoring of its own performance and to
communication with the community to ensure that knowledge of its activities is
In all of its activities the NHMRC strives for:
q consultation and collaboration with key interest groups;
q effective communication;
q relevance to the health and research sectors;
q innovation and responsiveness;
q high quality; and
q high ethical standards.
4 National Health and Medical Research Council
THE EXTERNAL STRATEGIC ENVIRO NMENT
The environment within which the NHMRC operates is complex, largely due to
the number of stakeholders and their inter-connecting relationships. By way of
illustration, Government and non-government bodies contribute to health care in
Australia on a variety of issues ranging from clinical practice to information
management to consumer advocacy. These organisations may have competing
priorities that will sometimes make consensus difficult. Nevertheless, knowledge
of those issues and attempts to address them, where appropriate, are an essential
part of the NHMRC’s ability to maintain its position at the forefront of research
and health advice in Australia.
Government sees the NHMRC as a source of advice on evidence-based approaches
to health care. Council membership includes representatives of the Commonwealth
and each State and Territory health authority. This brings to the NHMRC not only
the opportunities afforded by a breadth of experience and knowledge but also the
challenges embedded within a wide range of competing issues and priorities. In
addition there are numerous national and state government agencies and other
bodies that have an interest in health care with whom the NHMRC should establish
formal or informal networks.
Research institutions funded by the NHMRC, those seeking funding, and those
pursuing other forms of partnership with the NHMRC all contribute to the debate
on health and medical research. The different perspectives each brings to the
NHMRC strengthens Council’s ability to develop policy initiatives in research.
The need to strengthen relationships with industry is a direct response to the
increasing knowledge-based economy and commercialisation of health and medical
research. The NHMRC needs to take new approaches to relationships with industry
in order to promote the application of research findings for both health and
Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about health and health care and
this concern has in recent times been broadened to include concerns about the
ethics of health and health care. Improvements in privacy legislation and ethical
conduct of research involving people and animals are all responses to this
increasing concern. The challenge for the NHMRC is to ensure that it not only
maintains the highest standards within its own programs but that it demonstrates
leadership to the research and health care communities. Engaging consumers and
the community in setting these standards is a continuing priority.
5Strategic Plan 2000 – 2003
The NHMRC must continue to contribute in international research fora and develop
links with international health and medical research agencies. Partnerships with
international agencies and organisations and collaboration in fellowships and
research projects will assist the NHMRC to maintain strong international links.
Internationalisation of health is in part brought about by the enormous leaps in
communication and the opportunities afforded by electronic commerce and the
internet. The capacity to share information worldwide in real time will facilitate
knowledge transfer and contribute to national and international collaborations. This
offers both opportunities and challenges—the opportunity to be part of an
international effort and the challenge to maintain momentum and stay at the
In summary, governments, non-government organisations, research bodies,
consumer groups and individual consumers, all have a stake in the work of the
NHMRC. This, coupled with rapidly improving means of communication and
internationalisation and commercialisation of health care and health and medical
research, all make up the environment within which the NHMRC works.
MAJO R NATIO NAL HEALTH ISSUES FACING THE NHMRC
The health and medical environment is constantly changing and this presents a
number of opportunities and challenges. The Review of Implementation of the
Strategic Plan 1997–20001
identified a number of future challenges for the NHMRC
which included new and emerging diseases, interactions with industry,
internationalisation, the transfer of research into policy and practice, and strategic
The incoming Council endorses the thrust of the Review and has identified the
following major national health issues as likely to arise during the life of this
q the health of indigenous Australians;
q mental health;
q nutrition and food safety;
q consequences of physical inactivity and obesity;
q assisted reproductive technology and the use of cloning technology;
1 National Health and Medical Research Council (1999) Review of Implementation of the Strategic Plan 1997-2000,
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q biotechnology broadly including human genomics, gene-related therapies and
q emerging and re-emerging diseases including antibiotic resistant bacteria and
their impact on infection control;
q rural and remote health care;
q non-evidence based clinical practice;
q health inequalities including social and economic determinants of health; and
q safety and quality in health care.
In addressing these significant issues there are a range of health system issues
which should be taken into account. These are:
q relationships with other organisations, government sectors and the
q relationships with the States and Territories;
q internationalisation and global competition in research;
q changes in societal structures and values;
q cultural diversity in Australia;
q the ageing population;
q environmental impact including climate change and patterns of human
q research infrastructure and related workforce issues.
It is important that the NHMRC remains in a position to respond to these
challenges. The objectives and key strategies detailed in this Strategic Plan reflect
the NHMRC’s intention to work towards addressing the many issues highlighted
The list is not exhaustive and priorities may change over the life of the Strategic
RELATIO NSHIPS WITHIN THE NHMRC
Each of the four Principal Committees will contribute to the work of the NHMRC.
Both the Research Committee and the Strategic Research Development Committee
contribute to the research outcomes. The Research Committee is primarily
responsible for research funding across the whole spectrum of biomedical, clinical
and population health services. The Strategic Research Development Committee
identifies knowledge gaps and initiates priority and urgent research in particular
areas. The Australian Health Ethics Committee is a key partner in that it sets the
ethical framework and standards for research involving people.
7Strategic Plan 2000 – 2003
The Health Advisory Committee provides health advice to governments and the
Australian community. In doing this, the Committee provides input to the two
research committees to assist in identifying gaps in research knowledge.
The Australian Health Ethics Committee is responsible for providing and supporting
the health ethics framework essential for the ethical conduct of research involving
people. The Committee also facilitates debate and consideration of issues relating to
health ethics more generally—in this it liaises with the other Principal Committees
to ensure a broad range of views are canvassed.
Each Principal Committee interacts with each of the other Principal Committees, as
well as reporting to Council. For example, the research committees cannot achieve
their objectives in isolation from the dialogue and guidance on ethical issues and
the scope for disseminating the knowledge gained from the research into the public
domain. In turn, the two research committees may also play a role in alerting the
advisory and ethics committees about public health or ethical issues being raised by
These collaborative relationships need further development during the currency of
this Strategic Plan to ensure that the greatest possible value is delivered by the
NHMRC to the community. Many of the NHMRC’s objectives require coordinated
effort by the Principal Committees.
Collaboration is a very important theme for the NHMRC. The Strategic Plan calls for
a collaborative working environment within the NHMRC that will be achieved
largely through improved internal co-ordination.
In this triennium the NHMRC will continue to build an effective Australian health
and medical research sector based on high impact research and a world class work
force and infrastructure, delivering knowledge to increase the health and wealth of
the Australian community.
The NHMRC will facilitate Australia’s contribution to international health and
medical research and the health care arena by sharing its knowledge with the local
region and the broader international community.
The NHMRC will work to achieve the following specific objectives:
q the creation of internationally competitive knowledge;
q further development of world class research capacity;
q translation of knowledge for the benefit of the community;
q maintenance and promulgation of high ethical standards;
q engagement with the Australian community; and
q improvement of communication strategies.
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The NHMRC can best achieve its objectives through collaboration with other
organisations. Throughout the triennium the NHMRC will work to build strong
relationships with: Commonwealth and State and Territory governments;
government established agencies including peak councils; the research community
including social and public health researchers and institutions; Human Research
Ethics Committees; other research funding organisations; universities; health service
providers; the community including consumer groups; industry; and international
agencies and organisations.
q Internationally competitive knowledge creation:
– identify and support research at the highest international level;
– fund research covering a broad range of health and medical issues;
– gather and maintain knowledge in key priority areas for individual and
population health for the purpose of developing advice and guidelines;
– identify and fund priority areas for research.
q World class research capacity:
– provide leadership in the development of facilities required for national
– identify specific areas where research capacity is deficient;
– identify opportunities to build capacity;
– facilitate development of health and medical research in the public
– utilise advocacy and leverage capabilities to achieve increased
investment in research infrastructure;
– examine workforce needs and strengthen training opportunities;
– identify workforce implications of emerging priority areas; and
– increase and widen the scope of fellowship programs.
q Translation of knowledge for the benefit of the community:
– provide timely advice based on the best available evidence for
individual and population health;
– ensure that the advice is disseminated effectively both nationally and
– foster research and action that encourages changes in community and
q Maintenance of high ethical standards:
– provide high quality advice and guidance on ethical issues in health
research and health care, including guidelines;
– liaise with relevant national and international bodies;
– ensure that research reflects high ethical standards;
9Strategic Plan 2000 – 2003
– identify ethical issues arising from the research and advisory programs;
– support and monitor the work of institutional ethics committees
(human and animal).
q Engagement with the Australian community and development of
– ensure wide consultation and communication on the advice arising
from the NHMRC’s research program;
– engage relevant areas of the Australian community in the development
of priority research strategies; and
– engage the Australian community in dialogue on major ethical issues.
To achieve these objectives, the NHMRC will:
q build stronger external relationships;
q maintain Australia’s excellent research capacity across all areas;
q engage the community in ongoing dialogue on issues in health, including
health ethics and other matters;
q adopt creative approaches to communication of health and medical advice to
ensure the results of research are translated into practice in the Australian
q foster priority driven research to address the key health issues; and
q develop mechanisms for measuring and reporting performance.
Each of these key strategies will be embedded in the work plan of Council and its
Committees. Each Committee will also adopt specific strategies to enable the
achievement of these objectives.
CO MMITTEE STRATEGIES
Whilst being mindful of the need for collaboration between Committees, each
Committee has identified specific strategies to enable them to contribute to the
NHMRC’s goals. These strategies will be translated into work programs at the
Committee level and are set out below.
Health Advisory Committee (HAC)
The primary role of the Health Advisory Committee is to translate the findings of
research into policy and practice and to advise the community on health and health
10 National Health and Medical Research Council
To achieve this the HAC will:
q gather and maintain current knowledge on key priority areas for individual
health and population health (eg through surveys and systematic literature
reviews sponsored by the HAC or its working parties);
q consider available research findings in priority areas and flag those that could
be further developed as advice on policy;
q in collaboration with the SRDC, identify gaps in available knowledge and
suggest research needs for consideration by Council and its Principal
q provide timely advice, based on available evidence, on matters of agreed
priority relating to individual health and population health; and
q ensure that advice is widely accessible and provided in ways that are tailored
to specific audiences.
q support national strategies around protection of the blood supply;
q participate in the implementation of the national strategies arising from the
report of the Joint Expert Technical Advisory Committee on Antibiotic
Resistance (JETACAR); and
q promote development of clinical practice guidelines by expert external bodies
in accordance with the NHMRC standards.
Research Committee (RC)
The primary role of the Research Committee is to build and support an effective
Australian health and medical research sector built on high impact research, a high
calibre workforce and infrastructure; and to fund research that will provide quality
knowledge to increase the health and wealth of the Australian people.
To achieve this the RC will :
q increase knowledge in all areas relevant to better health by peer review and
competition for funding support with increased focus on performance, output
and outcomes in an international context;
q increase skills in research across the spectrum of health by expanding
training schemes and fellowships; building research capacity with a particular
emphasis on clinical, public health and health services; and working with
others on a broad range of research matters; and
q help grow knowledge-based industries in Australia by providing increased
support and incentives to bridge the research/industry gap and foster an
environment that values industry achievement.
11Strategic Plan 2000 – 2003
q progress the implementation of the research ‘reshaping’ agenda against the
performance outcomes standards as set out in Appendix 1.
Strategic Research Development Committee (SRDC)
The primary role of the SRDC is to promote research in identified strategic areas
where the current research is lacking and does not correspond to the weight of the
issue for health and health care in Australia. The SRDC will assist in the
development and dissemination of strategic research findings.
To achieve this the SRDC will:
q identify gaps in knowledge amenable to research;
q develop and implement a program of priority driven research in identified
q refine and advance the priority setting process to ensure relevance and
effectiveness, in consultation with stakeholders; and
q monitor the output of the SRDC-supported research and its translation into
improved clinical practice to ensure the delivery of high quality health
q develop action plans around the research priorities identified at the
conclusion of the previous triennium;
q develop strategies to continue research capacity building in the areas of
health economics and application of evidence-based guidelines into clinical
q continue existing strategies around electro-magnetic energy and the National
Illicit Drugs Strategy.
Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC)
The primary role of the AHEC is to provide high quality ethical advice with respect
to health research and health care.
To achieve this the AHEC will:
q continue to provide leadership in raising community awareness and
q improve support for and liaison with Human Research Ethics Committees;
q consider specific ethical issues including xenotransplantation, human cloning
and assisted reproductive technology;
12 National Health and Medical Research Council
q continue consideration of privacy issues; and
q liaise with relevant national and international organisations.
q develop guidelines on xenotransplanation;
q monitor compliance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct of
Research in Humans and Guidelines under Section 95 of the Privacy Act
q revise the Interim Guidelines on Ethical Matteris in Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Health Research.
PERF O RMANCE MEASURES
Performance measures for the research function have been agreed with Ministers as
a result of implementation of the Health and Medical Research Strategic Review.
These are at Appendix 1.
Performance measures for the health advisory and health ethics functions will be
developed by those committees separately within six months of establishment of
13Strategic Plan 2000 – 2003
A P PE ND IX 1
RESEARCH O UTCO MES EVALUATIO N MODEL
This paper outlines a conceptual model for use in developing the health and
medical research outcomes framework. The model is based on the outcome-output
framework used for the introduction of accrual budgeting in the Commonwealth
government and the discussions at the Research Outcomes Workshop held in
Once the model has been agreed it will be extended to include details of the
monitoring and evaluation methodologies needed to provide performance and
management information. The development of the final framework will complement
and inform work on NHMRC’s strategic plan and Council’s reporting requirements.
The outcomes and outputs in the model have been developed in line with the
Department of Finance and Administration (DoFA) guidelines on accrual budgeting.
These guidelines have been used to ensure that performance information will be
consistent with requirements of the annual reporting cycle and the preparation of
the Portfolio Budget Statement as well as meeting the information needs of other
Possible metrics and indicators have been included in order to illustrate the scope
of activities falling within the proposed outcomes and outputs. These metrics can
also be used to provide the initial data needed for the performance evaluation
proposed by the Health and Medical Research Strategic Review and required by the
1999 Budget decision to increase funding to the NHMRC.
The proposed model focuses on the need to:
q clearly reflect the Government’s objectives and priorities for health and
q provide clear causal links between the actions of the NHMRC and the
outcomes and outputs sought by Government;
q define outcomes that are distinct from the strategies pursued by the NHMRC
to achieve them; and
q provide specific outcomes that allow for clear accountability and reporting.
Once the outcome and output definitions have been agreed, further work will be
done to develop the methodologies for monitoring and evaluation. This will include
performance indicators and targets as well as data required to establish baselines
14 National Health and Medical Research Council
Figure 2 Research outcomes framework
15Strategic Plan 2000 – 2003
KNOWLEDGE, INF ORMATIO N AND TRAINING F O R DEVELO PING
BETTER STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH O F THE AUSTRALIAN
1. World Class Knowledge Creation
1.1 Research of high international standard
q high ethical standards;
q good scientific practice;
q the best research supported;
q innovative and excellent research; and
q high international recognition/citation of research output.
q Project grants; and
q Program grants
Value of grants by type
Number of grants by type (across the spectrum of research eg biomedical,
population health etc. and in health areas eg cancer, diabetes, etc.)
q success rates of grants by type; and
q analysis of application quality at the funding margin.
(i) Bibliometric analysis, which is the quantification of publication record in peer
reviewed journals and the impact of these papers. Its advantages are:
– that it covers basic research well;
– there are databases and established methodologies for analysing them
– it correlates with research quality;
– can identify linkages between institutions at a national and
16 National Health and Medical Research Council
– large numbers can minimise error; and
– anomalies such as self-citation can be recognised.
However, bibliometrics should be used as one of several tools, not by itself.
Bibliometrics’ disadvantages are important to acknowledge:
q bibliometrics does not capture public health and health services research
when published only in institutional or government reports that can still have
an effect on health gain or cost-effectiveness;
q the correlation with quality is not perfect. In particular, this correlation may
be poor for small research fields;
q it is only a blunt tool that cannot replace peer review processes; and
q there is a poor correlation with quality for research fields that are not large
(ii) Nature of publications arising from NHMRC funded research in relation to
(iii) Monitor and report on quality of peer review. This would involve two
(a) Assessor evaluation and feedback through peer review ranking panels.
(Some of these data are already available.)
(b) Linking research outcomes back to the original scoring. This is a long-
term task but the system to collect the information could be put into
(iv) Integrating the above data collections into a reporting system which gives a
longitudinal sense of the impact of health and medical research.
(v) International benchmarking of research outputs with other comparable
nations (such as Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, Korea etc.), with due
consideration given to developments occurring in other countries of
relevance (eg USA, UK, rest of Europe).
(vi) An Australian ‘Comroe and Dripps’ study at least once every 10 years. 3 ,4
2 An indexed and searchable database of public health research technical reports needs to be established to allow
easy asscess to information by all potential users. This database needs to be developed as soon as possible and
would involve several agencies as well as Federal, States and Territory Government. NHMRC could provide
leadership in taking this forward to relevant bodies for consideration.
3 Comroe and Dripps were US researchers who respectively investigated the origins of the knowledge which
allowed clinical advances in the 1960s and 1970s such as electrocardiography and cardiac surgery.
4 Consideration needs to be given to allocating a percentage of NHMRC’s total administered budget to undertake
this type of eveluation and survey work.
17Strategic Plan 2000 – 2003
2. World Class Research Capacity
2.1 Access for Australian researchers to world class research infrastructure and
q NHMRC support for infrastructure is only a small component of overall
support provided within the higher education, research institute and hospital
q therefore there are major influences outside the NHMRC that determine
researcher access to facilities in general.
q capital funding/Infrastructure support;
q national research capacity program (proposed);
q clinical trials and large patient recruitment studies; and
q (support for access to overseas facilities through ARC).
Value of grants by type.
Number of grants given by type.
q success rate of grants.
(i) Periodically survey the use of NHMRC-funded research facilities by NHMRC
funded scientists and others (especially leveraging and linkages). This would
require researchers to report on collaborations and linkages but thought
needs to be given to defining precise measures and incentives for reporting.
The leveraging of NHMRC funding should also be measured in this approach
(ii) Correlation between provision of, and access to, NHMRC-funded research
infrastructure and facilities and research output, by assessing links between
funding for facilities and quality and quantity of research produced using
5 Considered to be less reliable than the periodic survey approach
18 National Health and Medical Research Council
(iii) Periodic benchmarking of the use of NHMRC-funded facilities and the relative
quality of research output with that of other comparable nations to provide
an international perspective.6
2.2 Flexible world class health and medical research workforce that is responsive
to evolving demands.
q Training Scholarships;
q New Investigator Grants;
q Research Fellowships; and
q Practitioner Fellows.
Value of awards, grants and fellowships by type.
Number of awards, grants and fellowships awarded by type.
q success rates of applications; and
q analysis of quality of applications at the funding margins.
(i) Numbers and proportion of NHMRC funded PhD students completing their
degrees each year by discipline and a system for tracking their performance
(ii) Number and proportion of clinicians and public health researchers
completing NHMRC fellowships and scholarships.
(iii) Monitor the career paths of researchers after the completion of NHMRC
awards through periodic survey of a sample or cohort of the workforce.7
6 Considered to be less reliable than the periodic survey approach.
7 This would include monitoring promotion through the existing career structure ie:
(i) Number of NHMRC funded Research Fellows promoted to Senior Research Fellows;
(ii) Number of NHMRC funded Senior Research Fellows promoted to Principal Research Fellow; and
(iii) Number of NHMRC funded Principal Research Fellows promoted to Senior Principal Research Fellows
as well as the flow of researchers into careers in other sectors, e.g. industry, higher education sector,
health services, clinical practice etc.
19Strategic Plan 2000 – 2003
3 Translation of Knowledge for the Benefit of the Australian Community
3.1 Application of health and medical research in policy and practice.
q There has been little international progress that could assist the development
of such a system. The NHMRC is committed to achieving progress in this area
and is actively pursuing opportunities with overseas funding organisations
who are facing similar issues.
q Project and Program grants with a translation component;
q Priority Research (Collaboration with the States/Territories);
q Partnership grants;
q Practitioner Fellows;
q Strategic Research grants; and
q Clinical/Research Links Program (still under development).
Value of grants awarded by type.
Number of grants by type.
q success rates of grants; and
q analysis of quality at the funding margins.
(i) Measure translation of research into practice.
While this is relatively uncharted territory there are possible solutions. For example
one suggestion from the HMRSR (Rec 3.4) is self-assessment and reporting by
researchers. Since there is no established method for evaluating the translation of
research, a five-year trial is proposed which would utilise researchers themselves in
a bottom-up exercise. As a condition of award researchers would be asked to
monitor and report on the extent to which their findings, past and present, have
been taken up clinically, in health policy or commercially. They would define their
own means of proof and have to document the ‘research into practice’ trail. NHMRC
would audit the researchers’ claims.
20 National Health and Medical Research Council
Several possible outcomes of this trial have been suggested. New information will
be obtained and it could be possible to identify common ground and innovative
ideas that might allow a more standardised system to be introduced. Alternately,
this evaluation could ask researchers to identify opportunities to translate their
findings into practice and attempts they have made to put them into action, even if
they failed. While it would take some time to establish these systems most
researchers would take it seriously and try to make it credible.
(ii) Measure the impact of research on health improvement
(a) Documenting the translation of ‘research-into-practice’ by monitoring
the situations where research based evidence is deployed for use in
clinical settings. Suggested approaches include:
– Use of Australian and NHMRC funded research in the HAC
– Monitoring implementation of NHMRC Health Advisory Committee
– Surveying of practitioners for awareness of relevant NHMRC
– Bibliometric analysis – publication of NHMRC funded research in
traditional ‘practitioner media’ eg clinical journals, collegiate
(b) Regular surveys to determine numbers of people in active clinical
practice whom have had an NHMRC scholarship or grant (as proxies
for research-trained clinicians).
(c) Number of clinicians and public health personnel completing NHMRC
funded research fellowships and scholarships.
(d) Measuring and tracking the numbers of clinical collaborators involved
in NHMRC funded projects.
(e) Tracking the output in clinical, public health and health services
journals as well as in Cochrane reviews.
(f) Occasional Australian ‘Comroe and Dripps’-type studies (see above) i.e.
a retrospective case-study approach.
3.2 Commercial development of health and medical research
q barriers to industry collaboration/co-operation minimised (eg through revision
of NHMRC grant guidelines);
q increased researcher awareness of commercialisation/IP issues; and
q greater ease for/exposure to experience in research in commercial sector and
21Strategic Plan 2000 – 2003
q Postdoctoral Fellowships in Industry;
q Development (industry) grants; and
q (IP assistance).
Value of grants by type.
Number of grants by type.
q Success rate of grants.
(i) Number of accredited research institutes and groups with IP certification
included as part of an institution’s NHMRC accreditation process.8
(ii) Numbers of patents applied for, awarded and licensed based on health and
(iii) Amount of private sector money/numbers of seed projects attracted to
institutions for proof of concept or other development work based on their
(iv) Numbers of Australian start-up companies based on local IP or health service/
health care know-how.
(v) Number of applications, based on health and medical research, to START and
(vi) Number of applications, based on health and medical research, to other
industry development programs, including number of biomedical CRC’s
utilising NHMRC research/researchers.9
(vii) Number and value of research agreements with public and private sector
entities including spin-offs and joint ventures relative to the total NHMRC
8 IP certification could be a condition of being eligible to receive NHMRC grants. The process would help to
indicate the support given by the institution to the IP protection and exploitation processes, the numbers of
researchers within institutions who are IP competent and, though a system of grading, allow training programs
and skill levels to be tracked.
9 Contributes to understanding, along with relevant citation data, a measure of collaboration between researchers
along the commercialisation path.
The National Health and Medical Research Council
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is a statutory body within the
portfolio of the Commonwealth Minister for Health and Aged Care, established by the
National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992. The NHMRC advises the Australian
community and Commonwealth; State and Territory Governments on standards of individual
and public health, and supports research to improve those standards.
The NHMRC advises the Commonwealth Government on the funding of medical and public
health research and training in Australia and supports many of the medical advances made
The NHMRC also develops guidelines and standards for the ethical conduct of health and
The Council comprises nominees of Commonwealth, State and Territory health authorities,
professional and scientific colleges and associations, unions, universities, business, consumer
groups, welfare organisations, conservation groups and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait
The Council meets several times a year to consider and make decisions on reports prepared
by committees and working parties following wide consultation on the issue under
A regular publishing program ensures that Council’s recommendations are widely available
to governments, the community, scientific, industrial and educational groups.
The Council publishes extensively in the following areas:
• Aged care • Health promotion
• Child health • Infection control
• Clinical practice guidelines • Men’s health
• Communicable diseases • Mental health
• Dentistry • NHMRC – National Health
• Diabetes and Medical Research Council
• Drugs and poisons • Nutrition
• Drug and substance abuse • Public health
• Environmental health • Research
• Ethics – Animal • Sport/Injury
• Ethics – Human • Women’s health
• Health procedures • Workforce
A list of current publications is available from:
The Publications Officer
GPO Box 9848
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: (02) 6289 9520 (24-hour answering machine)
Toll free: 1800 020 103
Fax: (02) 6289 9197