Research Funding Strategy

RHH Research Foundation Research Funding Strategy

The Purpose of the RHH Research Foundation:

As defined in its Rules of Association, the principal purpose of the RHH Research Foundation is to promote the prevention and management of human disease. This is achieved via the following Objects as stated in the Rules:

a. To promote medical, healthcare and scientific research within Tasmania and to encourage and advance investigation into the cause, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human diseases and associated conditions relevant to Tasmania;

b. To assist in the medical, healthcare and scientific research effort, primarily by funding research grants and/or provision of equipment, technical or administrative assistance and associated facilities where this may be required to enable carriage of research investigations; and

c. To encourage collaboration and communication between health practitioners, researchers and others where this is designed to facilitate further advancement in medical, healthcare and scientific research for the enhancement of human health and wellbeing.

Method:

The RHH Research Foundation pursues a rigorous assessment process, with research grant funds allocated annually across three categories upon the basis of merit, utilising a nationally-accepted approach predicated on competitive review by its Scientific Research Advisory Committee (SRAC). This multidisciplinary panel draws upon diverse membership and is endorsed by the NHMRC. To support assessment, the Foundation has established guiding principles and priorities which are reviewed by SRAC and endorsed by the Board each year. These are:

Principle One: Research applications should demonstrate the potential for benefit to the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians, with a focus on those diseases and conditions relevant to the Tasmanian community.

Principle Two: Research applications should demonstrate building of local research capacity.

Principle Three: Research applications should enable research collaboration across disciplines and amongst researchers at various stages of their career path, particularly through alignment/partnership with other research experts/groups/centres/commercial bodies.

Principle Four: Research applications should demonstrate the potential for tangible and measurable benefits arising from proposed work, including one or more of the following:

a) publication(s) in peer reviewed journals;
b) a competitive research grant application to an external funding body;
c) a health service delivery outcome (e.g. a clinical practice improvement);
d) development of a collaboration/partnership with an external research group or industry; and/or
e) a patent application.

Strategic Priorities:

  • Aged care (including diseases of the elderly;
  • Chronic disease (including cancer);
  • Health Service Delivery and Outcomes (including acute care);
  • A healthy start to life (including maternal and child health); and
  • Social determinants of health (including mental health).

A range of selection criteria are also applied against each grant category to assist SRAC in reaching outcomes which are initially considered individually, before being reviewed collectively, prior to recommendation to the Board.

Ad hoc approaches for funding:

Responding to researchers interested in gaining funding

Researchers wishing to seek funding from the Foundation in order to undertake investigations will be advised of details relating to the next annual grant round while being encouraged to become familiar with the current principles, priorities and selection criteria relevant to the nature of their proposed study. If desired, they may seek to meet with a member of the SRAC, and the Chair of that Committee will work with the CEO of the Foundation in an endeavour to gain the most appropriate advice to guide their submission.

Responding to benefactors interested in providing funding

Benefactors wishing to support the work of the Foundation by making a gift for research will be advised of the strategic approach to research grant funding as contained within this document. The Foundation’s CEO and SRAC Chair may then meet with the benefactor in order to consider development of an initial gift proposal. If it is mutually agreed that there is scope for next steps, additional insight from an appropriate clinician and/or academic researcher may be sought in developing this proposal in a manner that meets the intent of the benefactor and the capabilities of local researchers.

Formal gift proposals developed as an outcome of ad hoc approaches will be considered by the SRAC to determine the degree of alignment with the Foundation’s principles and priorities. If it is considered that there is sufficient ‘fit’, SRAC will make a recommendation to the Board prior to development of a formal agreement between the donor and the Foundation around the nature, intent and carriage of the gift and its application toward a research grant. If it is deemed that there is insufficient alignment and/or current capability across the research community, the benefactor will be advised of this outcome by the Chair of SRAC and CEO of the Foundation.

If the Board endorses SRAC’s recommendation that there is sufficient alignment with the Foundation’s research strategy and scope for a competitive research grant to be progressed under a formal agreement with the donor, this additional grant funding will be made available during the annual grant funding round. This will be open to the general research community for competitive consideration by SRAC along the same merit-based elements (principles, priorities and selection criteria) against which all applications are assessed.

Should there be a submission which is considered by SRAC to hold sufficient merit against the research principles, priorities and selection criteria, a recommendation will be made to the Board that this be an additional grant, funded independently under the formal agreement with the donor. The grant will then continue to progress in the same manner as all other successful submissions made in that annual funding round, with outcomes provided to the benefactor in accordance with the formal agreement developed between the Foundation and that donor.

If SRAC determines that there is not a submission of sufficient calibre, a grant will not be made available in that grant round. Discussion will occur with the benefactor to inform next steps, ie whether there should be further adjustment to the proposal, whether the opportunity to offer this additional grant funding should be made available in the next funding round or whether this additional funding opportunity should be withdrawn. If the proposal is to be refined, this proceeds through the steps outlined above in relation to the original proposal.

Responding to bequests which seek to invest in medical research

In the case of a bequest which seeks to fund research in a specific area, if there is scope to do so, the Foundation will work with the benefactor during life in order to develop wording for the bequest which enables their intent to be achieved within the framework of the RHHRF research funding strategy. If a bequest might be made which defines a specific area of research that does not fit with the principles and priorities of the Foundation, the CEO and Chair of SRAC will work with the executor and any associated parties in an endeavour to achieve an outcome that is consistent with the original intent of the benefactor in a manner that aligns with the RHHRF research funding strategy.

The outcome of these discussions could be the development of a proposal around an additional research grant, endorsed by SRAC, which will then be open across the general research community for consideration by SRAC along the same merit-based elements against which all applications are assessed. Carriage from that point will be in line with next steps for competitive funding applications as outlined above, seeking a high-calibre research proposal that meets the intent of the bequest as agreed with the executor.

 

2 May 2016

(Updated 13 April 2018)

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