$32 million for the next generation of clinician researchers to pursue critical health and medical research

The Australian Government will invest almost $32 million through the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) in world-leading health and medical research projects.   

Date published:
General public

We will offer 30 early- to mid-career researchers 5-year grants funded through the Investigator Grants: MRFF Priority Round. We offer these grants in 2 cohorts, the first starting in 2020 and the second in 2021.

This grant opportunity is part of the MRFF Clinician Researchers initiative, which will invest $190.8 million over 10 years in clinician researcher fellowships. This funding will enable Australia’s health care professionals, who might otherwise have had to choose between life as a researcher or a clinician, to:

  • drive research questions
  • develop new discoveries
  • apply best-practice care for their patients

These grants provide research-focused clinicians with dedicated time and resources to help them translate research findings into clinical practice in different areas.

Aged care

Doctor Monica Cations (Flinders University) will receive $420,079 to help improve the quality and safety of aged care.

Doctor Cations will research:

  • how to meet the psychological needs of people using aged care services
  • how accessible and effective mental health services for these people are
  • what the aged care sector needs to implement best-quality care

Keeping children out of hospital

Associate Professor Penelope Bryant (Murdoch Children's Research Institute) will receive $1,281,125 to investigate ways to keep children out of hospital by being smarter with antibiotics.

One of the most common reasons children go to hospital is for intravenous (IV) antibiotics. This research program asks whether children:

  • respond equally well with oral antibiotics for some infections
  • can be treated equally safely at home when they do need IV antibiotics

Read more about the MRFF and the Government’s latest $400 million funding boost for medical research.

Successful applicants

The grants are now under offer to the successful applicants listed below.

Investigator Grants: MRFF Priority Round 2020 Cohort grantees

Chief Investigator's Name

Administering Institution

Project Title



CIA - Associate Professor Penelope Bryant

Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Keeping children out of hospital by being smarter with antibiotics

Hospitals are not the best place for children. They have worse psychological outcomes and are at risk of hospital-associated adverse events. One of the commonest reasons children are admitted to hospital is to receive intravenous (IV, through a drip). The aim of this program is 1) to find out whether for some infections children do just as well taking oral antibiotics, and 2) to find out whether for infections really needing IV antibiotics, children can be treated just as safely at home.


CIA - Associate Professor Genevieve Healy

The University of Queensland

Supporting adults to sit less and move more for chronic disease prevention and management

New guidelines now recommend adults move more AND sit less. My program of research will develop and test interventions to support adults to achieve this recommendation. It will also generate new knowledge on the associated health and wellbeing impact of doing so. The research will focus on two key populations: desk workers and adults with chronic disease. Findings will result in evidence-based programs that can be delivered at scale within the workplace and clinic setting.


CIA - Doctor Katherine Gibney

University of Melbourne

Developing a coherent national approach to the clinical and public health management of invasive Strep A disease

Public awareness of meningococcal disease is high, but most people don’t know that another pathogen, Strep A, kills more people every year in Australia. Invasive Strep A – the deadliest form of this disease – can spread to those closest to a Strep A case. Unlike meningococcal disease, there is no national approach to preventing or managing invasive Strep A. Research during this fellowship will result in a consistent approach to managing and preventing invasive Strep A in Australia.


CIA - Doctor Colm Keane

The University of Queensland

Immuno-genetic biomarkers of response in a prospective study of immune checkpoint therapy in primary CNS lymphoma

Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma (PCNSL) is a rare brain cancer with poor outcomes using standard available therapies. Even if cured patients are left with significant problems due to the intense therapy. There is emerging data that this cancer may develop due to the tumours ability to avoid immune detection in the brain and this study will try to understand how the immune system can be helped to eradicate the cancer cells


CIA - Doctor Rachel Sutherland

The University of Newcastle

A big problem needs a big solution: Advancing the science of scaling up chronic disease prevention interventions

Chronic disease are responsible for 90% of deaths in Australia. Years of research has produced a range of policies and programs which could prevent the onset of chronic diseases. However, too few of these programs are ever scaled up to reach the communities they were intended for. Targeting children and families, my research aims to advance the evidence of how to effectively scale up policies and programs within the school setting so they can prevent the onset of chronic disease.


CIA - Doctor Benjamin Teh

University of Melbourne

Minimising infective complications in the era of immune-based cancer therapies through precision, prediction and prevention

New cancer treatments are based on enhancing the immune system. However infections continue to affect many patients; disrupting their care, removing survival benefit from new cancer treatments and causing early deaths. With immune based therapies, types of infections seen and how to prevent them are still unknown. The proposed research will gain new knowledge of infections, study new technologies to detect and predict future infection risk and better ways to prevent infections from occurring.


CIA - Associate Professor James Chong

University of Sydney

Innovative regenerative therapies for heart repair

The project aims to develop new therapies to regenerate the infarcted and failing heart. The interconnected themes include
1) pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocyte grafts and 2)  drug treatment to alter the heart matrix 3) prevention of sudden cardiac death by heart regeneration.


CIA - Associate Professor Emma Sciberras

Deakin University

Improving outcomes for children and adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and their carers

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects 5% of Australian young people. This investigator grant aims to improve outcomes for young people with ADHD through 1) a better understanding of long-term outcomes and key factors associated with positive outcomes; 2) the development of new psychosocial interventions; and 3) community engagement research to create an international research agenda and to address stigma.


CIA - Doctor Scott Griffiths

University of Melbourne

The male experience of eating and body image disorders

Eating and body image disorders are devastating psychological conditions suffered by millions of Australian boys and men. However, despite overwhelming evidence that males experience eating and body image disorders in fundamentally different ways to women, there are no early-intervention or prevention programs designed specifically for males. My research program will develop new early-intervention and prevention programs to help this under-studied and under-served group.


CIA - Doctor Claudia Di Bella

University of Melbourne

Putting 3D printing into the reality of surgery: an approach for regenerating joint cartilage within the body using one-step surgery

Injuries to articular joints represent a huge cost to the health system. As academic orthopaedic surgeon specialist in robotic and 3D bioprinting, I aim at regenerating the building block of articular joints, by replacing the damaged tissue directly at surgery. My Research Program, performed in one of the most advanced 3D bioprinting facilities in Australia, in collaboration with world leaders in bioengineering, can open the way for bioprinting in surgery to regenerate tissues and organs.


CIA - Doctor Clare Arnott

University of New South Wales

Investigating novel therapies for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction

Patients with heart failure related to a ‘stiff heart’ often have poor quality of life, shortness of breath and repeat  hospital admissions. Other conditions like high blood pressure and obesity can make this condition worse. Currently, there are no treatments to make these patients feel better or prevent them from becoming unwell and needing to go to hospital. I aim to find a new treatment for these patients, which will help them feel better, lose weight and reduce hospitalisation.


CIA - Doctor Devendra Hiwase

The University of Adelaide

Understanding molecular pathogenesis of therapy related myeloid neoplasm

Some treated cancer patients develop aggressive blood cancers, most probably due to chemotherapy and radiotherapy for their primary cancer. Their survival is <12 months and they have very limited treatment choices. Hence, understanding of  risk factors and mechanisms of treatment-related blood cancers is crucial. We aim to understand the complex interaction between chemotherapy induced damage to bone marrow cells and patient’s genetic factors responsible for treatment related blood cancer.


CIA - Doctor Paul Yeh

University of Melbourne

Blood based detection and monitoring of pre-malignant clonal haematopoiesis to predict clinical outcomes in the immunocompromised.

Clonal haematopoiesis is when genetic mutations (alterations in the DNA) can be detected in blood stem cells of an individual and can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and death. This study looks to explore how clonal haematopoiesis is formed and how it leads to adverse health outcomes. We will identify risk factors for clonal haematopoiesis which will guide the development of future screening programs and research into how this process can be better managed.


Investigator Grants: MRFF Priority Round 2021 Cohort grantees

Chief Investigator's Name

Administering Institution

Project Title



CIA - Doctor Laurens Manning

University of Western Australia

Better penicillin, better hearts: improving secondary prevention of rheumatic heart disease

Getting ‘the penicillin needle’ every month is the only way we currently have to prevent RHD, but due to pain associated with injections given into the muscle, adherence to this is poor. An injection of penicillin given at a higher dose, but under the skin (subcutaneously) could allow us to schedule the needle every 3 months instead. To get the most from any new penicillin, we also need to know what level of penicillin is required to prevent the sore throats and skin infections that cause RHD.


CIA - Doctor Nicole Nathan

The University of Newcastle

Sustaining the implementation of evidence-based chronic disease prevention programs in education

Governments invest considerable resources in implementing diet, physical activity and obesity prevention initiatives in education settings. However, unless they are sustained, the public health benefits of such investments are reduced. Over the next 5 years my research program will address key impediments to sustainability research by producing evidence on the determinants of, and effective strategies for, sustaining these interventions in educational settings.


CIA - Associate Professor Carol Maher

University of South Australia

Evidence-based digital technologies for health behaviour

Poor lifestyle patterns (physical inactivity, excess sedentary behaviour, lack of sleep, poor diet) are leading modifiable causes of death and disease in Australia. It is vital we improve health behaviors in our communities, particular within high-risk groups. The rapid growth of technologies has created new possibilities for health interventions. Innovative research is needed to harness this potential by creating and translating personalised, scalable technology-based interventions.


CIA - Doctor Vanessa Murphy

The University of Newcastle

Personalised biomarker-guided management of asthma during pregnancy

Asthma is common in pregnancy, and asthma attacks are associated with poor outcomes for the offspring. We developed a novel management strategy which halves asthma attacks in pregnancy and reduces bronchiolitis and asthma in children. This grant will test the implementation of this strategy into routine antenatal care, and determine the health and developmental benefits for offspring, to provide evidence to improve clinical practice in the area of asthma management in pregnancy.


CIA - Associate Professor Jeanne Tie

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Advancing Personalised Treatment in Colorectal Cancer with Tissue and Liquid Biomarkers

I am leveraging my world leading studies of liquid biopsy (circulating tumour DNA) as recurrence marker in bowel cancer, where there are unique opportunities to further improve tissue and blood test based prognostication (by adding more markers), to move forward the field of “fear of cancer” (questionnaires to better understand and improve the patient experience), to collect cost of care data to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of this approach, and to develop new treatment.


CIA - Professor Thomas Snelling

University of Sydney

Policy-driven research to improve the immunisation program for young children

Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent childhood diseases. Evidence-based policies are required to ensure vaccination strategies optimally benefit the Australian population. This project leverages a decade of quality research and aims to improve Australia’s public health actions in the prevention of whooping cough, gastrointestinal infections and pneumonia.


CIA - Doctor Jane Davies

Menzies School of Health Research

Moving together towards the elimination of Chronic Hepatitis B in the Northern Territory

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are disproportionately affected by chronic hepatitis B infection and liver cancer. As a specialist doctor and clinical-researcher, I am working in partnership with Aboriginal people to eliminate hepatitis B from the Aboriginal population of the Northern Territory (NT). Together with Aboriginal people in the NT, scientists and health professionals I will provide evidence for improved culturally safe care for people living with hepatitis B.


CIA - Associate Professor Lisa Hui

University of Melbourne

Closing the critical knowledge gaps in perinatal genomics

Over the past decade, advances in genetics have impacted every aspect of medicine, including the care of pregnant women and their babies (perinatal medicine). "Genomics" is the modern term for genetics on a large scale: it is the study of a person's complete set of DNA, rather than individual genes. The application of genomics in perinatal medicine has created both benefits and concerns. This program will provide the essential evidence to guide responsible progress in perinatal genomics.


CIA - Professor Viviana Wuthrich

Macquarie University

Screening and Risk Reduction for Dementia in Primary Care

Without a cure for dementia, risk reduction is paramount. Co-designed with consumers and GPs, this project will evaluate the effectiveness of a structured screening and risk reduction tool for dementia implemented in primary care. This tool will enable identification of amenable risks, guide GP and consumer joint decision making about the most appropriate evidence-based interventions to reduce the identified risks, and facilitate interventions. The tool will be evaluated in a clinical trial.


CIA - Doctor Andre Schultz

University of Western Australia

Preventing Bronchiectasis in Indigenous People

Aboriginal people are severely affected by lung disease. Much chronic disease can be prevented if early respiratory symptoms can be detected early and children are given optimal treatment. My research will apply knowledge translation methods to bridge the gap between evidence and practice to ensure that the primary health workforce in Australia is skilled with, up to date, and apply current best practice in paediatric Indigenous lung health.


CIA - Doctor Sze Lee

Monash University

Using a purpose-built digital assessment tool to determine the mechanisms driving addictive behaviours and its utility to improve treatment engagement and outcomes

The clinical assessment of people with drug, alcohol or other behavioural addictions (e.g. gambling) has traditionally relied on measuring the frequency and severity of the behaviour itself, and not the underlying brain-based processes that lead to these problems. This study will test a neurocognitive framework for addictions - derived from a panel of world leading experts in the field - to establish a unifying, scientifically-informed understanding of the core processes driving addictions.


CIA - Doctor Henry Zhao

University of Melbourne

Saving time, saving brain through prehospital stroke care

This research project aims to improve outcomes for stroke patients through new treatments that can be started at the patient’s doorstep. Projects include performing the world’s first trial of a drug designed to halt bleeding into the brain on Australia’s first treatment stroke ambulance. Other projects will include assessing outcomes for patients treated on the stroke ambulance and improving paramedic recognition of patients needing specialised interventional treatments.


CIA - Doctor Jun Yang

Monash University

Optimise Primary Aldosteronism Detection For Better Health Outcomes

Primary aldosteronism (PA) is a preventable, but often unrecognised cause of high blood pressure, strokes and heart disease.  However, doctors do not routinely screen for it.  A simple blood test could mean the difference between receiving a cure or requiring chronic complex care.  My research will determine how common PA is in our community and develop guidelines to improve its detection to benefit hundreds of thousands of Australians living with hidden PA.


CIA - Doctor Monica Cations

Flinders University

Meeting psychological needs to improve the quality and safety of aged care

Improving the quality and safety of aged care is in best the interests of us all: two-thirds of us will access an aged care service in our lifetime. Innovative models of care that could achieve this aim exist, but a fundamental lack of expertise about how to implement them into the complex aged care sector gets in the way. This research will trial new approaches and identify the key ingredients to assist the aged care sector to implement the best-quality care.


CIA - Doctor Trevor Steward

University of Melbourne

A Neural Systems Model to Optimise Treatment Outcomes in Binge Eating Populations

This project will use advanced brain imaging techniques to understand how people that binge eat process negative beliefs. Over the next 5 years, I will establish a research program that uses brain-based factors to predict which patients will respond to certain treatments and to develop personalised treatment options. The findings of this project will be used to improve treatment outcomes and help people that binge eat to obtain long-term recovery.


CIA - Doctor Melissa Lee

Murdoch Children's Research Institute

Establishing the early diagnosis of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular risk factors in adults with repaired aortic arch obstruction: The key to decreasing premature death

Aortic arch obstruction is a condition where there is a narrowing in the aorta (main blood vessel from the heart supplying blood to the body) and usually requires surgery early in life. There is a high rate of death in young adults which is linked to accelerated heart disease. This research aims to establish if a CT scan of the heart (coronary artery calcium scoring) can help us identify young adults at highest risk of heart disease before its development.


CIA - Doctor Bridianne O'Dea

University of New South Wales

Tackling it with Tech: Using novel Internet solutions to overcome the burden of depression in youth

Depression is common in youth and suicide is a tragic and fatal outcome. My research explores how the Internet can be used to detect young people in need of mental healthcare, deliver accessible and engaging treatments, and provide schools and professionals with new tools and services to proactively identify youth early so that they can get the right care at the right time. This research program will transform how young Australians receive care, significantly reducing the burden of depression.


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