Research Strategy

Fostering research and innovation capacity and capability across ACT Health and our partners

Welcome to the ACT Centre for Health and Medical Research. Our vision is to enhance the health and well-being of our community across the continuum of care through excellence in research and innovation. To do this we foster research and innovation capacity and capability across all of ACT Health and health services.

The office provides services designed to help researchers achieve success – advice and approvals for ethics, contractual matters, intellectual property, methods, statistics and various research skills. The office also leads research governance in areas such as strategy, research priorities, and engaging with stakeholders, especially our academic partners.

Our vision

To be a leader in research and innovation that enhances the health and well-being of our community across the continuum of care.

Our Priorities

  • Developing a strong research culture focused on patients, family and community
  • Creating infrastructure to support high quality research and innovation
  • Strengthening our strategic partnerships
  • Accelerating translation of knowledge to practice and policy
Organisational Structure

The Centre for Health and Medical Research sits under Population Health.

Research Strategy Team

The Research Strategy Team is responsible for designing, delivering, coordinating and evaluating Better Together: A strategic plan for research in the ACT Health System, while supporting the ACT Health and Wellbeing Partnership Board and Research Working Group with its actions under the Plan.  The Team also delivers valuable legacy Health and Medical Research Initiatives which create a learning health system, invest in people and build platforms while identifying and leveraging opportunities for building the research ecosystem and the delivery of high-value research. 

Research Ethics and Governance Office

The Research Ethics and Governance Office is responsible for the coordination and management of ethical and site governance review processes for ACT Health. Visit Ethics & Governance for more information.

Pre-Clinical and Education Support Unit

The Pre-Clinical & Education Support Unit manages the compliance and operations of the pre-clinical laboratories, which support the activities of researchers and students of ACT Health and its partner institutions. Visit Pre-Clinical Sevices for more information.  Visit Opportunities for research opportunities. 


Research and Innovation Fund

The 2022-23 Research and Innovation Fund Fellowship Program

The ACT Government has made $1 million available through the 2022-23 Research and Innovation Fund (RIF) Fellowship Program to support early-mid-year career researchers employed in the ACT Health system.

The RIF Fellowship Program, guided by Better together: A strategic plan for research in the ACT health system, invests in people to build their research capability, make high-value contributions to improving the health and healthcare of the people served by the ACT health system and to encourage collaboration, leadership and capacity building in the ACT’s health and medical research ecosystem.

Vital information for applicants is available in the 2022-23 RIF Fellowship Program Funding Guidelines.

Applications must be made through SmartyGrants.

Applications close Friday, 17 February 2023 at 5pm. Late applications will not be considered.

If you have any questions, please contact us by email at

Please review this webpage regularly in case of updates or announcements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are health researchers who are employed at a university eligible to apply?

Yes. The guidelines confirm that qualified professionals, including researchers (see section 8.6), employed by organisations in the ACT Health System, including organisations that conduct research (see section 8.2), are eligible to apply to the 2022-23 RIF.

The eligibility criteria are deliberately broad to encourage a wide range of applicants (see the guidelines section 4). However, potential applicants are encouraged to consider not only the eligibility criteria, but also the merit criteria (see the guidelines section 5), namely:

  1. The applicant has suitable knowledge, skills, capabilities and career goals.
  2. The project proposed will make a high-value contribution to improving the health and health care of the people served by the ACT health system.
  3. The context includes investment and support (of funding, resourcing, wages covered or in-kind commitment) e.g. by a host organisation and/or academic partner.

What is the minimum amount I can apply for?

There is no minimum amount.

Can previous grant recipients apply?

Yes.  There is nothing in the guidelines excluding previous grant recipients from applying.

Can funds be used to purchase equipment?

Yes, funds can used to purchase equipment (see the guidelines section 3.7).

Q: Can RIF fellowship funds be used to pay for salaries?

For example, can RIF fellowship funds be used to pay for the salary of the applicant?

Yes. Eligibility requires the host organisation to “release the applicant from normal workplace duties for up to 50% of working hours”. It is anticipated that such a commitment would be demonstrated by allocating at least part of the Fellowship budget to a salary contribution for the applicant throughout the duration of the fellowship – allocated from either the RIF’s funding, the host organisation’s in-kind contribution, or a combination of both.

For example, can RIF fellowship funds be used to pay for salaries of other researchers within a team?

Yes, however, the RIF Fellowship Program aims to nurture promising individuals who are early-to-mid career researchers (“build the capability of people of the ACT heath system”). Section 3.8 of the Guidelines (exclusions) does not specifically list salaries of a research support team as out of scope for use of the funding. However, while budgeting to fund a team may be assessed as having merit by the assessment panel, the intent of the RIF fellowship program is to invest in people to build their research capability by focusing on the applicant (the potential RIF Fellow).

Can I apply if I don’t have a PhD?

Yes, you are eligible to apply (see the guidelines section 3.9).

Can I apply if I don’t have a PhD, but am currently enrolled in a program of doctoral studies?

Yes, you are eligible to apply (see the guidelines section 3.9).

Can I apply if I am a practising health professional, employed within the ACT health system, and I am proposing to take 3 years away from my hands-on professional practice to solely focus on my research (for example my PhD)?

No.  It is expected applicants continue their employment in the ACT health system, while dedicating up to 50% of their normal/standard work hours to engage in RIF fellowship activities (see the guidelines section 3.4).

Can I submit two separate research project proposals within the one application?

Yes. However, word limits remain as per the guidelines for each criterion regardless of how many research project proposals are incorporated into the one application.

Will members of the Expert Assessment Panel be ACT based?

Panel membership will consist of a consumer representative, internal ACTHD employees and external local and interstate experts. The panel may also request additional expert reviews if necessary (see the guidelines section 6.2).

The following mitigations are being implemented to address probity risks in terms of the Expert Advisory Panel assessment process:

  • All panel members must sign a Code of Conduct and attend a probity briefing before engaging in the assessment process.
  • All panel members must disclose all conflicts of interest (actual, perceived and potential) on their signed Code of Conduct.  The Panel Chair will then make a determination on how each conflict will be managed.
  • Conflicts of interest and probity will be a standing agenda item for all meetings of the panel, to enhance active and updated disclosures.
  • It is anticipated that all indivdiual panel members will not:
    • Lodge an application themselves
    • Assist any applicant with writing an application
    • Provide a letter of support for an application

Previously funded projects 

The 2020-21 combined RIF round awarded $2 million to nine successful projects, including up to $600,000 to support the Australian Brain Cancer Mission. The successful applications are listed below.

Administering Institution University of Canberra
Project Title Improving the physical health of young Australians living in the community, who have experienced early onset psychosis or are at ultra-high risk of developing psychosis, through an interdisciplinary, coordinated lifestyle intervention.
Description The proposed study will be the first of its kind in the ACT. The participants will be a group of young people living in the community (aged 14 - 25 years) who have experienced early onset psychosis or who are at ultra-high risk for developing psychosis. The project is a comprehensive, integrated lifestyle intervention that includes a dedicated exercise physiologist and dietician. The trial will quantify whether metabolic and functional markers of physical health in young people who have experienced early onset psychosis, or are at ultra-high risk of developing psychosis, can be improved by a combined practical dietary and physical activity intervention.
2020/21 amount  $199,341
Administering Institution Australian National University
Project Title Establishing the Canberra Brain Cancer Clinical-Research Collaborative
Description The project aims to enable precision drug discovery to improve outcomes for brain cancer patients, not only in Canberra but throughout the world. Through “Brain Cancer Biobanking Australia” (BCBA) it aims to create the repository of tumour material with sophisticated genomic data for each patient treated at The Canberra Hospital in accordance with International best practice. The outcome will guide laboratory-based precision drug discovery approaches, and enable a move towards personalised brain cancer treatments. Thus, support from The Australian Brain Cancer Mission, will ensure patients in the Canberra region (including patients in NSW treated at Canberra Regional Cancer Centre, CRCC) are provided, for the first time, with the opportunity of cutting-edge genomics-based analysis of their brain cancer and, thus, access to current clinical trials and emerging treatments.
2020/21 amount $299,920
Administering Institution Australian National University
Project Title The Big Sleep ACT Project: a novel, ACT-focussed data resource for interdisciplinary research on sleep health
Description This research project will transform a large body of existing clinical data into an organised and accessible dataset, which will support future basic and applied research across multiple clinical and technical disciplines.  
The proposed dataset has the potential to support a broad range of discoveries about Canberrans’ sleep health and the effectiveness of treatment for sleep disorders, as well as deliver insights into a range of chronic conditions such as obesity, mental health, and cardiovascular disease, due to their strong association with sleep disorders.
2020/21 amount $125,000
Administering Institution University of Canberra
Project Title Multidisciplinary brain cancer rehabilitation, holistic assessment, and multimodal interventions to address survivorship needs: Brain Trial
Description The project brings together different healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, psychologists, exercise physiologists and dietitians) and researchers with expertise in cancer care to deliver a ‘timely needs-based’ model of supportive care to improve function, physical and psychological well-being, and overall quality of life. 
The needs-based holistic model of supportive care in this study promotes shared decision-making and aligning treatment plans with patient goals which can provide relief from distressing symptoms, while promoting rehabilitation of the consequences of treatment. The information gained from this study will help to inform a future, much larger study across Australia.
2020/21 amount $288,959
Administering Institution Canberra Health Services
Project Title A multiparameter platform for novel radio-immunotherapy personalisation in metastatic colorectal cancer

Precision medicine can play an important role in cancer management. This project seeks to understand and refine treatment options for colorectal cancer patients with metastatic disease. Preclinical and clinical data has revealed a significant proportion of colorectal cancer patients who can benefit markedly from a new wave of immunotherapies (IO) that have transformed cancer treatment. Furthermore, these types of IO may enhance a rarely observed radiotherapy (RT)-driven immune responses that may promote systemic tumour eradication. It is also likely some treatments may be better suited to specific cohorts of colorectal cancer patients. Therefore, there is clear need for development of immune-based biomarkers for prognostication and evidence-based personalisation of the novel RT-IO schedules in colorectal cancer patients prior to the clinical adoption of RT-IO combinations.

2020/21 amount $283,733
Administering Institution University of Canberra
Project Title Cardiac Rehabilitation for transient ischaemic Attack and Mild-Stroke: the CRAMS trial
Description The University of Canberra (UC) will partner with Canberra Health Services and Calvary Public Hospital, supported by the Stroke Foundation and Heart Foundation, to investigate the effectiveness of a 6-week integrated (TIA, mild-stroke, heart disease) traditional exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation program (Cardiovascular rehabilitation) at the UC Health Clinics. 
2020/21 amount $163,179
Administering Institution Australian National University
Project Title Phase One Clinical Trial, and pre-clinical optimisation, of a novel cancer immunotherapy combination.
Description The project aims to improve treatment outcomes, and the quality of life of cancer patients. It also aims to generate valuable data from both our pre-clinical and clinical study which will contribute to basic scientific knowledge about cancer immunotherapy.
2020/21 amount $292,000
Administering Institution Australian National University
Project Title Co-Designing Australia’s First Fixed-Site Drug Checking Service – A collaboration between consumers, services, government and academics
Description Drug checking services (also known as pill testing) are a health intervention aimed at performing chemical analyses to assess the contents of illicit substances.  Importantly, drug content analyses are generally also accompanied by information on reducing the harms of drugs.  This synergy of drug checking and health information aims to minimise the risk of injury or death from drug use. 
This project will be used to directly inform the design and implementation of a novel health service in the ACT. The study design involves innovative co-design methodology to ensure that the vulnerable Canberrans that the service intends to help are engaged and empowered to play a role in its implementation.
2020/21 amount $63,669
Administering Institution Australian National University
Project Title Young People’s Journeys around Mental Health and Mental Services Study (JAMMed): Longitudinal Qualitative Study

Mental illness is a serious and growing concern for young people in the ACT. Vulnerable young people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with culturally and linguistically diverse background, those with disability, and those who are homeless, experience worse access to care. As they mature, there are also risks when young people transition to adult services. 

The study will identify potential areas of improvement so that all young people who need mental health services can access appropriate, affordable and streamlined treatment.

2020/21 amount $296,370
Contact Us

Research Strategy

Phone: 02 5124 4288



Human Ethics & Site Governance Unit

Research Ethics & Governance Office

Ph: 02 5124 3949

Ethics Committee Submissions and Queries:

Site Governance Submissions and Queries:

Pre-Clinical & Education Support Unit

Page last updated on: 7 Mar 2023