Health Research Council announces funding decisions

In its annual contestable funding announcement today, the HRC awarded more than $83 million to New Zealand medical researchers, distributed among 70 projects and programmes over the next 12 months to 3 years.  This represents a substantial increase over last year, when the council made grants of $63 million to 57 projects.

10 long-term programmes received grants of between $2 and 5.5 million each. These included: a new study as part of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study that will look at mental illness as a possible accelerator for heart disease onset; a community healthy housing intervention programme led by Philippa Howden-Chapman; a Liggins Institute programme examining the long-term consequences of children’s perinatal care; and an investigation  under Ian Reid of the mechanisms and management of musculoskeletal disease, to include trial of an annual injectable drug for preventing fractures in older women with moderate bone loss.

60 smaller projects received funding of between $65,000 and $2.5 million. These include 9 Emerging Researcher grants, and 5 feasibility studies.

Researchers based at the University of Auckland and the University of Otago received the overwhelming majority of funding, with additional projects to be housed at the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, AUT University, Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University, the University of Canterbury, ESR, Ng?ti K?po O Aotearoa Inc, Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa Charitable Trust, and the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand.

A complete list of funded HRC projects for 2009 is here. (PDF)

Peter Joyce and Ian Reid, Dean and Deputy Dean of the Faculties of Medicine at the University of Otago and the University of Auckland respectively, published an urgent call for more HRC funding last year in the New Zealand Medical Journal. Their article compared per capita health funding in NZ, Australia, the UK and US (see table below).

In reaction to today’s announcement, Peter Joyce told the SMC that he is, “delighted with the increased funding to HRC and Marsden Fund in the latest budget. It is a great first step.” He and Ian Reid are in the process of updating their comparative data and hope to publish their findings in the next few months.

New Zealand (NZ)
United Kingdom
United States (US)
per annum
NZ$ 42m*
Au$ 636m*
£ 1256m*
US$ 28.6b
per capita
NZ$ 10.2*
NZ$ 34.6*
NZ$ 54.3*
NZ$ 126
HRC=Health Research Council; NHMRC= National Health and Medical Research Council; MRC=Medical Research Council, NHS=National Health Service; NIH=National Institutes of Health. Data are from 2007. *Excludes overheads.
From: Health Research: a Critical Investment for New Zealand, Universities of Auckland and Otago.