Over $77 million in funding to be shared in national clinical trials and cohort studies


High-quality national clinical trials and cohort studies aiming to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians will receive over $77 million in funding under the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies grant scheme.

This grant scheme supports high-quality clinical trials and cohort studies that address important gaps in knowledge, leading to relevant and implementable findings for the benefit of human health.

In clinical trials and cohort studies, research teams work to establish a solid evidence base required for better clinical care and outcomes, as well as improved health and wellbeing services, practices, and policies.

Twenty-five research teams from across the nation will share in this funding to undertake projects focused on such topics as improving mental and cognitive health treatments, and clinical outcomes for babies, children and adolescents, as well as Indigenous health and wellbeing.

Health and wellbeing are influenced by many factors, yet globally, western developed quality of life measurements focus almost exclusively on physical health.

For Indigenous Australians, health is a holistic concept that encompasses social, emotional, physical, and cultural wellbeing for both the individual and the community, all of which can have significant impacts on quality of life.

Professor Raymond Lovett and his team from The Australian National University will receive over $1.7 million in funding to create a world-first Indigenous Quality of Wellbeing utlity index to inform policy, services and programs that meet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ wellbeing needs – a model that could be adapted globally to quantify key determinants of health.

Ms Karen Glover from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) will undertake a project that aims to strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people’s social and emotional wellbeing, and translate the knowledge gained into action across primary health care, mental health, housing, education and social care sectors.

Associate Professor Odette Pearson of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute will lead a team of Indigenous researchers to establish an Aboriginal Cancer Cohort to identify priority areas for addressing disparities that will have the greatest impact on reducing inequalities and improving outcomes for cancer diagnoses among Aboriginal people.

Other projects receiving funding provided through the 2023 Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants includes:

  • Professor Craig Olsson from Deakin University will bring together data under one of Australia’s longest running population studies of health and development, the Australian Temperament Project to examine the earlier life determinants of mental disorders and physical disease in middle and later life, as well as across generations.
  • Associate Professor Debra Palmer from the University of Western Australia will conduct a robust randomised control trial, co-designed with a consumer advisory group, to determine the ideal amount of peanuts in breastfeeding mothers’ diets to prevent peanut allergies in babies.
  • Professor Nadine Ezard from the University of New South Wales will conduct a clinical trial using a stimulant medication, already used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, to potentially reduce withdrawal symptoms, and become the first global treatment for methamphetamine withdrawal.
  • Dr Clare Whitehead from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute will conduct an innovative, world-first clinical trial that will assess the best antibiotic to provide to mothers with preterm pre-labour rupture of membranes to improve clinical health outcomes for preterm babies and their mothers.

A full list of funding outcomes for the Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grant scheme 2023 is available on NHMRC’s Outcomes of funding rounds webpage.

Quotes attributable to NHMRC CEO, Professor Steve Wesselingh:

  • “Clinical trials and cohort studies are essential for evaluating the effectiveness and safety of our current healthcare services that help prevent, detect and treat disease.”

  • “It is evident that these projects are underpinned by such strong collaborations, partnerships and research networks. These qualities are essential for producing the evidence needed to make advances in health and wellbeing.”

  • “Congratulations to the researchers funded today who are helping Australians gain access to better treatment- and thank you, more broadly, to the participants for volunteering their involvement in the research that holds potential in helping many others.”

Quotes attributable to Professor Raymond Lovett, ANU:

  • “This project will provide new evidence and tools to strengthen health policy, programs, and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

  • “The Indigenous quality of wellbeing utility index will provide communities, researchers, and policymakers with the means to understand a greater diversity of determinants, including cultural and historical factors. This index will strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of programs and services.”

Quotes attributable to Ms Karen Glover, University of Adelaide/SAHMRI:

  • “The study will provide evidence to inform co-design and implementation of responses to intergenerational and complex trauma spanning health, education, and social care sectors, including strategies to promote resilience, healing and recovery for young people and their mothers and other primary caregivers.”

  • “The study will provide new evidence to inform first line responses in the health, education and social care sectors; and strategies to promote resilience, healing and recovery across the life course.”

Quotes attributable to Associate Professor Odette Pearson, SAHMRI:

  • “Our study will establish an Aboriginal cancer cohort by creating a unique state-wide dataset that will inform effective early detection, treatment and survivorship programs and system responses.”

  • “Findings in relation to each of our aims will be pivotal for informing decision making that, for Aboriginal people, achieves earlier detection of cancers, better cancer service experiences, more comprehensive cancer care, longer survival and greater quality of life.”

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