What is the COVID-19 Research Grants?

COVID-19 Research Grants is a program designed to ensure that research results are obtained as quickly as possible to directly support the NSW Health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NSW Health COVID-19 Research Grants Program has been designed to produce evidence that supports the NSW response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Round one of the program has concluded. Round two is now open.

 

Background

The COVID-19 Research Grants program has been designed to produce evidence that supports the NSW response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that:

  • Round 1: Funding will be allocated to an initial rapid funding round with short application and review timeframes. This initial round will focus on research topics that address key COVID-19 response needs. This funding round has been developed for projects that are ready to commence shortly and require rapid funding.
  • Round 2: Funding will be reserved for a second round of proposals requiring a longer development period. This round will encompass a broader range of topic areas that have been identified as important to support patients, health care workers, the community and the health system in responding to COVID-19.
  • The peer review process will be targeted to projects that are high priorities for NSW Health to address the NSW pandemic.

There is sufficient funding to support both funding rounds.

 

Objectives

The COVID-19 Research Grants program has been designed with a robust governance and management framework to ensure that it is conducted in accordance with these principles:

  • Be priority-driven, with a focus on issues of  greatest policy and practice impact on the COVID19 response
  • Be expedited to ensure research is planned, conducted and reported in a timely manner to inform clinical and policy decision making
  • Incorporate appropriate governance mechanisms to ensure accountability across the NSW public health system and NSW community.

The objectives of the COVID-19 Research Grants are to:

  • Support research that provides evidence to inform priorities for the immediate COVID-19 response in NSW. 
  • Support research into medium and longer term issues related to the pandemic in patients, the community and the health system. 
  • Reduce the time from evidence generation to implementation. The program supports the rapid planning, conduct and reporting of research, so that positive findings can be rapidly translated into clinical practice and policy. 

 

Funding

Funding of up to $1 million per project, for a period of up to 24 months, is available. Funding requests over $1 million may be considered with clear justification. 

 

Eligible Projects

COVID-19 Research Grants Round 1 funding will be targeted specifically to the research topic areas at Appendix A of the guidelines. In accordance with the objectives of the program, projects that do not directly address one or more of these topic areas will be deemed ineligible.

Funding will be available for two types of project. 

Additional funding for existing research 

Applications requesting funding for the expansion of currently funded research that may be applicable to COVID-19. Funding may enhance or expand existing projects to incorporate elements addressing COVID-19, or expedite outcomes related to COVID-19. Projects will be assessed for alignment with criteria outlined in these COVID-19 Research Grant Guidelines. Evidence of existing peer-reviewed funding and ethics and governance approvals must be supplied.

New projects 

Applications for new projects that align with topic areas and meet the eligibility criteria may be submitted.

The initial round will fund projects that will provide rapid evidence to inform the current COVID-19 response in NSW. 

Round 1 projects must have capacity to commence research within 3-4 weeks of receiving funding, and provide a report on interim outcomes within 6 months from the research start date.

The second round is planned for release in June 2020 to accommodate projects that require a longer lead time for development. A broader list of research topics will be released for round 2, including:

  1. Diagnostics 
  2. Prevention of infection 
  3. Treatment 
  4. Public and population health 
  5. The health system response 
  6. Mental health and wellbeing 
  7. Behavioural insights and communications 
  8. Whole of Government response and impacts

Further details on round 2 research topics will be released in June. Applications submitted for the first round but not funded may be reconsidered in the second round depending on alignment with priorities. Applicants in this category may be offered an opportunity to revise their proposal if required.

 

Eligible Applicants

Applications must meet all eligibility criteria.

  1. Rapid start  
  2. Address specific topic areas 
  3. Based in NSW 
  4. Submit a complete application  
  5. Australian citizen, permanent residency status or appropriate visa 
  6. Host organisation requirements
  7. Administering organisation requirements

 

Timing

Applications for Round 2 close 17 August 2020.

 

More Information

 

Media Release

The first round of projects to receive funding under the NSW Government’s $25m COVID-19 Research Grants program has been announced.

Seven projects worth $3.3m have been funded through the program, which was announced in March as part of the State’s response to the virus.

NSW Health Acting Deputy Secretary, Population and Public Health, Sarah Thackway, said the grants were divided into diagnostics, prevention, and public and population health.

“This funding is for research and clinical trials to tackle COVID-19, but also to support initiatives that focus on targeted research to assist with the response to the pandemic, including its impacts on the healthcare workforce, vulnerable populations, and regional, rural and remote communities,” Ms Thackway said.

“The challenge we are facing is enormous, and tackling it requires a significant and coordinated effort.”

“It’s wonderful to see some of NSW’s leading infectious disease researchers come together and rise to the challenge to minimise COVID’s impact.”

“The funding boost will also support our university and research industries as we continue to battle the disease.”

Funded projects include using genome sequencing to help track the source of COVID cases in the community, developing new tests for immunity markers in the blood of people who have recovered, using viral proteins to test for the virus, looking at the pandemic response in Aboriginal communities, and adding COVID data to the 45 and Up health study, which has been collecting information since 2006.

NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said even months into the pandemic, there were still many unknowns about the virus, and ongoing research was key.

“The world’s population has no pre-existing immunity to COVID-19 and whilst there are significant global collaborative efforts underway to develop an effective vaccine, this could still be some time away,” Dr Chant said.

“This research will help to better understand and minimise the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 in NSW.”

NSW researchers awarded grants include:

Diagnostics

  • Professor Vitali Sintchenko, University of Sydney – Enhanced genomic tracking of COVID-19 importations and transmissions in NSW
  • Professor William Rawlinson, NSW Health Pathology – Improved Confirmatory Diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection using Protein Mass Spectrometry
  • Dr Linda Hueston, NSW Health Pathology – Development, Evaluation and Validation of ELISA Assays for both the Diagnosis of CoVID-19 and Utility in Seroprevalence in Communities

Prevention

  • Associate Professor Joanne Bryant, Uni NSW – A rapid qualitative assessment of COVID-19 health needs in an urban Aboriginal community

Public and population health

  • Professor Kathleen Clapham, University of Wollongong – A place-based pandemic response to the strengths and vulnerabilities of Aboriginal communities in south-eastern New South Wales.
  • Professor Kim Usher, University of New England – Impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous Australians’ preventive health behaviours: A mixed methods study
  • Dr Martin McNamara, Sax Institute – 45 and Up: COVID Insights

Source