Human health is directly and indirectly influenced by the environment and changing climatic conditions.

Between 2000 and 2018, NHMRC invested approximately $20 million in health and medical research on the health implications of environmental change. In light of the low number of applications, in recent years, and the importance of this issue, NHMRC has committed $10 million over 5 years for a special research initiative, commencing in 2021, to boost research capacity and capability. 

By focusing on this priority, NHMRC aims to improve Australia’s preparedness and responsiveness to human health threats from changing environmental conditions and extreme weather events. 

As a first step in framing this special research initiative, NHMRC hosted a workshop with relevant researchers and experts on 1 November 2019. The workshop discussed a broad range of complex issues that affect Australia’s ability to measure and evaluate the impacts of environmental change at the individual and population health level. 

The workshop concluded that a multidisciplinary, collaborative research network is needed to understand the complex interaction between primary, secondary and tertiary health effects of environmental and climate change (such as direct injury, changes to vector-borne diseases and increased air pollution, and social and economic disruption, respectively). Such a network should be able to systematically assess health risks, develop and assess mitigation and adaptation plans, and estimate the cost-benefit of strategies that address the impact of environmental change on human health.

NHMRC will undertake further consultations before opening a call for applications. A Forecast Opportunity is expected to be published on GrantConnect in mid-2020.

NHMRC continues to welcome applications for research on all aspects of human health through its grant program and assists Australian researchers to participate in international research projects through both bilateral and multilateral arrangements.