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Current and Emerging Issues for- NHMRC Fellowship Schemes submission

ID: 
42
Step 2 - Personal Details
First Name: 
Steven
Last Name: 
Lane
Step 3 - A. Some questions for you
1. Which of the following best explains your interest in NHMRC’s fellowship schemes: (select ONE only): 
I am currently working in the health and medical research sector
2. If you are a health and medical researcher, which of the following descriptions best classifies your research? (select ONE only): 
Basic science – please complete the next two questions
3. If you are a health and medical researcher, which of the following best describes the main source of funding that supports your salary? (select ONE only): 
NHMRC Scholarships and/or Fellowships
Step 3 - B. Consultations questions
Question 1: How should NHMRC’s funding balance between research grants and fellowships be adjusted as the total number of Project Grants available falls progressively over the next few years?: 
This is the wrong question to be asking. The fundamental issue is that the NHMRC budget has not increased since 2010 (project grants stable/ falling at $420million) despite rising CPI, wages and falling international exchange rate. Medical research in Australia is at a crisis point. The NHMRC budget desperately needs to be boosted to maintain biomedical research and to keep our best scientists in science and in Australia.
Question 2: To increase the turnover of NHMRC Research Fellows, should these schemes be seen as ‘up and out schemes’, whereby Fellows wishing to reapply can only do so at a higher level?: 
No, the schemes should fund the best people and criteria should be based on excellence, not arbitrary "up and out" criteria.
Question 3: Are there too many Fellowship levels? Does this structure impede the career progression of rapidly rising stars in health and medical research?: 
No, it is appropriate.
Question 4: Noting the implications outlined in the Issues paper, should NHMRC extend the duration of Early Career Fellowships to more than 4 years and Career Development Fellowships beyond 5 years (to 7 or 10 years)?: 
This is not appropriate and contradicts the other statements in Dr Armstrong's paper (i.e. focusing on young age, preventing level D applications). Career development fellowships should be awarded to the most outstanding young researchers and academic achievement (sometimes this comes with academic title) should be encouraged, not prohibited. Age should not restrict access to the fellowship scheme, at either end.
Question 5: Should NHMRC identify and support strategic priority areas in order to build capacity for the future? What else should be done to support women and increase participation and success by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers?: 
NHMRC should identify the best talent and most outstanding researchers and fund them. Strategic funding is not sustainable because it is based on government policy and agenda, which changes every 3 years or less.
Question 6: Is there a better solution to encouraging diversity in careers than those based on years post-PhD?: 
Years post PhD reflects time in academic science and is the best way to set the standard for future work.
Question 7: Should employing institutions be expected to provide more certainty to their employees than now? : 
Most universities and Institutes already have support enabled for those established employees who do not achieve success.
Question 8: Would this be achieved if NHMRC required institutions to commit to one or more years of ongoing support for researchers exiting from NHMRC Fellowships? : 
Perhaps.
Question 9: Should this be restricted to Early Career and Career Development Fellows?: 
The requirement for ongoing support post fellowship, ECF and CDF is already in place in many institutions. Mandating this would have to be done in a careful way that does not prevent the recruitment of outstanding candidates to the institution.

Page reviewed: 28 January, 2016