Investigator Grants will support the research programs of outstanding investigators at all career stages.

Investigator Grants provide the highest-performing researchers at all career stages with funding for their salary (if required) and a research support package (RSP) for five years.

These grants will provide the investigator with flexibility to pursue important new research directions as they arise and to form collaborations as needed, rather than being restricted to the scope of a specific research project.

Investigator Grants will support:

  • different career stages – early career researchers, mid-career researchers and established researchers
  • researchers with clinical responsibilities (such as clinicians, public health and allied health practitioners) and
  • part-time researchers.

Structure

Investigator Grants will be offered in two categories:

  • Emerging Leadership (EL) – recipients will have the title ‘NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow’
  • Leadership (L) -  recipients will have the title ‘NHMRC Leadership Fellow’

Five levels of salary support and six tiers of RSP will be offered across the scheme.

Emerging Leadership Investigator Grants will be restricted to researchers who are ≤10 years post-PhD or equivalent on 1 March of the application year.

Investigator Grant Investigator Grant level Salary per annum(AUD) Eligibility No. of Chief Investigators per grant No. of Investigator Grants held concurrently RSP per annum (AUD)
Leadership Leadership 3 (L3) $175,201 Unrestricted 1 1 Allocation of $300,000, $400,000, $500,000 or $600,000 per annum as determined by overall score
  Leadership 2 (L2) $164,911
  Leadership 1 (L1) $141,474
Emerging Leadership Emerging Leadership 2 (EL2) $107,750 ≤10 years post-PhD or equivalent 1 1 $200,000
  Emerging Leadership 1 (EL1) $75,738 $50,000

a Salaries will increase in line with indexation and are quoted as 1xFTE.

Eligibility

Years post-PhD

It is expected that Investigator Grants will be highly competitive, awarded to outstanding researchers in their field of research and with a rising research trajectory. To support early and mid-career researchers entering the scheme, the Emerging Leadership Investigator Grants will be limited to those who are ≤10 years post-PhD or equivalent on 1 March in the year of application.

Number of terms

To assist researchers to enter the scheme and to recognise the continuing achievements of Australia’s most outstanding researchers, Investigator Grant holders will be encouraged to move through the scheme by limiting the number of five-year terms for which each level can be held. Someone entering the Investigator Grant scheme at Emerging Leadership Level 1 has the potential to receive salary and research support for up to 35 years.

The following table outlines the number of terms each Investigator Grant level can be held.

  Emerging Leadership Level 1 Emerging Leadership Level 2 Leadership Level 1  Leadership Level 2 Leadership Level 3
Maximum number of times an Investigator Grant can be held at the indicated level 1 1 2* 2* 5*
*A maximum of five Investigator Grants can be held across the three Leadership levels. 
Maximum number of years of funding at the indicated level 5

5

Maximum of 25 years (i.e. 5 grants) across the three Leadership levels

For example, a researcher could hold a Leadership Level 1 Investigator Grant twice, Level 2 once and Level 3 twice, or hold a Level 3 Investigator Grant five times.

Case studies

The following case studies provide illustrative examples of eligibility to apply for an Investigator Grant.

  1. Dr D currently holds an Investigator Grant at Emerging Leadership Level 2. When s/he reapplies to the scheme; s/he must apply at Leadership Level 1, 2 or 3.
  2. Dr E currently holds an Investigator Grant at Leadership Level 1. When s/he reapplies to the scheme, s/he may apply for a second time at this level, or apply at Leadership Level 2 or 3. S/he may only hold five Investigator Grants at the Leadership level in total.

Previous or current holders of Investigator Grants

Researchers who reapply to the Investigator Grant scheme may not apply for a level lower than their most recently held Investigator Grant. They must also comply with the number of terms each level can be held, as outlined above.

The following table outlines eligibility for each Investigator Grant Level based on the previous or current Level held.

Eligibility of current or previous NHMRC Fellows for Investigator Grants 

The following table outlines the eligibility to apply for an Investigator Grant at each level based on the highest level of NHMRC Fellowship previously or currently held.

Highest NHMRC Fellowship level previously or currently heldd Investigator Grant Salary Level 
  Emerging Leadership Level 1  Emerging Leadership Level 2  Leadership Level 1  Leadership Level 2  Leadership Level 3 
No previous NHMRC Fellowship Eligible if ≤10 years post-PhDa Eligible if ≤10 years post-PhDa Eligible  Eligible  Eligible 
Early Career Fellowshipb Not eligible  Eligible if ≤10 years post-PhDa Eligible  Eligible  Eligible 
Translation of Research into Practice (TRIP) Fellowship  Not eligible  Eligible if ≤10 years post-PhDa Eligible  Eligible  Eligible 
Career Development Fellowship Level 1 Not eligible  Eligible if ≤10 years post-PhDa Eligible  Eligible  Eligible 
Career Development Fellowship Level 2c Not eligible  Not eligible  Eligible  Eligible  Eligible 
Practitioner Fellowship Level 1 Not eligible  Not eligible  Eligible  Eligible  Eligible 
Senior Research Fellowship Level A  Not eligible  Not eligible  Eligible  Eligible  Eligible 
Senior Research Fellowship Level B Not eligible  Not eligible  Eligible  Eligible  Eligible 
Practitioner Fellowship Level 2 Not eligible  Not eligible  Not eligible  Eligible  Eligible 
Principle Research Fellowship Not eligible  Not eligible  Not eligible  Eligible  Eligible 
Senior Principle Research Fellowship Not eligible  Not eligible  Not eligible  Not eligible  Eligible
Australia Fellowship Not eligible  Not eligible  Not eligible  Not eligible  Eligible

a Or equivalent.
 

b Including NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellowships.
 

c Including Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellowship Scheme.
 

d Including MRFF Next Generation Clinical Researchers program Fellowships funded via the NHMRC Practitioner, Career Development  and Translating Research Into Practice Fellowship schemes. 
 

Case studies

  1. Dr G currently holds an Investigator Grant at Emerging Leadership Level 1. As long as s/he is still no more than 10 years post-PhD, s/he is eligible to apply for an Investigator Grant at Emerging Leadership Level 2. If s/he is more than 10 years post-PhD, s/he is eligible to apply for an Investigator Grant at Leadership Level 1, 2 or 3.
  2. Dr H has held two Investigator Grants at Leadership Level 2. S/he may only apply for an Investigator Grant at Leadership Level 3.

Salary and Research Support Packages

Salary

Applicants to the Investigator Grant scheme select the most appropriate Level (EL1–L3) for their career stage and the percentage of salary required to support their research activities, while ensuring they meet eligibility requirements. If applicants request a salary, the Leadership Level selected will determine the salary awarded. Salary levels have been set at the top of current, broadly equivalent NHMRC Fellowship levels.

Research Support Packages

Successful applicants at Emerging Leadership Levels 1 and Level 2 will be awarded a fixed RSP of $50,000 and $200,000 per annum, respectively.

There are four tiers of RSP for the Leadership Investigator Grants. These have been set at $300,000, $400,000, $500,000 and $600,000 per annum and will be allocated independently of the Leadership level, based on the overall peer review score of the application. As a comparison, the average Project Grant provides approximately $200,000 per annum for three years (excluding clinical trials grants).


Research Support Packages can be used to fund Direct Research Costs.

Part-time and non-salary Investigator Grants

NHMRC will continue to support part-time researchers and those who do not require a salary from NHMRC. Applicants may request an Investigator Grant salary between 0% and 100% FTE and will be offered a full RSP.

Consistent with current NHMRC policy, researchers holding appointments with a high administrative load (for example a Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research or a Director of an Independent Medical Research Institute) will be eligible to apply for an Investigator Grant and to receive a RSP. However, they will be ineligible to receive the salary component of the grant.

Researchers who receive their salary through a non-NHMRC fellowship are eligible to apply for a non-salary Investigator Grant.

NHMRC also expects researchers who already hold a salary from their institution to apply for a non-salary Investigator Grant.

Part-time Investigator Grant recipients will be offered a full RSP. This will allow a researcher who works part-time due to, for example, caring or clinical responsibilities, to support their research.

Research overseas

To provide investigators with the flexibility to access training, development and collaborative opportunities overseas whilst maintaining the benefit for Australian health and medical research, a portion of an Investigator Grant can be spent overseas.

The following table outlines the permitted overseas time for each level of the Investigator Grant scheme. Investigator Grant holders will be awarded their RSP, but would not be permitted to take the RSP overseas. NHMRC will not provide a living away from home allowance to Investigator Grant holders who spend time overseas.

Investigator Grant       Level        Overseas time permitted                                           
Leadership L3 Up to 1 year
L2
L1
Emerging Leadership EL2 Up to 2.5 years. Final two years must be spent in Australia
EL1

Peer Review of Investigator Grant applications

NHMRC has worked with Research Committee, other Principal Committees and expert working groups on the peer review processes for the Investigator Grant scheme. This has been informed by a comprehensive consultation process.

Assessment criteria and weighting

Investigator Grants will be assessed on the Track Record of the applicant and the Knowledge Gain of the proposed research.

Track Record is defined as ‘the value of an individual’s past research achievements, not prospective achievements, quantitatively scored using evidence-based components’. It will count towards 70% of the total score.

For the Investigator Grant scheme, assessment of Track Record will be based on consideration of Publications (35%), Research Impact (20%) and Leadership (15%).

Knowledge Gain is defined as ‘the quality of the proposed research and significance of the knowledge gained. It incorporates theoretical concepts, hypothesis, research design, robustness and the extent to which the research findings will contribute to the research area and health outcomes (by advancing knowledge, practice or policy)’. It will count towards 30% of the final score.

Postgraduate Scholarships

NHMRC will continue to provide Postgraduate Scholarships. Information is available on the current Postgraduate Scholarship scheme.

As now, NHMRC will not provide a RSP for Postgraduate Scholars under the new grant program.