2020 COVID-19 Immunological Studies



Notice of Intent (NOI) registration OPEN

10am, 9 Jul 2020 (Thursday)

Draft application due to RIC for  strategic review and compliance & eligibility check (including other supporting documents, if applicable)

5pm, 9 Jul 2020 (Thursday)

Minimum Data due on Sapphire

10am, 21 Jul 2020 (Tuesday)

Authority to Submit due to RIC

10am, 22 Jul 2020 (Wednesday)

Final application submitted to RIC

5pm, 23 Jul 2020 (Thursday)

Final application submitted to NHMRC


The objective of this COVID-19 Immunological Studies grant opportunity is to characterise the immune response across COVID-19 patients with asymptomatic, mild, moderate, severe, and critical disease.

Studying the natural infection and the level of immunity across these patient groups will support:
- understanding how the SARS-CoV-2 virus is transmitted by asymptomatic individuals
- the development of predictive markers of patient infectivity and to define disease severity
- understanding the immunological correlates of protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection
- understanding how genetic variation between SARS-CoV-2 isolates (as the virus mutates) affects the immune response of different patient groups.

The research should consider population dynamics in Australia and vulnerable population groups such as the elderly, pregnant women and those with complex and/or chronic health conditions.
The intended outcome of this research is knowledge and evidence that will inform the national health response to COVID-19 and support clinical practice, including:
- targeting interventions such as self-isolation
- prioritisation of vaccines and / or treatments for high-risk individuals and vulnerable populations.

Given the rapidly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, timely research outcomes relative to the time required to conduct the appropriate research should be proposed. This grant opportunity provides the maximum grant period as 3 years, however research projects are not required to utilise the full period if outcomes can be realised more quickly.


For this grant opportunity, up to $2 Million is available in 2020-21 through the MRFF. The maximum amount available for a single grant is $1 million

The maximum grant period is 3 years.

$2.0mil Nil Nil


- A person must not be named as a Chief Investigator (CI) on more than one application submitted to this grant opportunity.

- You are not eligible to apply if the research proposal was submitted to the MRFF International Clinical Trial Collaboration (ICTC) Program and it is currently being assessed, or is included in the ICTC Merit List. Chief Investigators on an application submitted to the ICTC Program that is currently being assessed or is included in the ICTC Merit List are eligible to submit a different research proposal to this grant opportunity

- It is generally required that, at the time of application submission, the CIA is an Australian citizen or is a permanent resident in Australia (see also section 6.4 of the Guidelines). The research proposal must involve CIA being based in Australia for the duration of the grant.

- The proposed research should not duplicate research previously or currently being undertaken. The NHMRC may compare the research proposed in grant applications with grants previously or currently funded by the MRFF, NHMRC or other agencies (e.g. Australian Research Council) and published research (see also section 4.7 – Other ineligible expenditure)

How to apply

  1. Notice of Intent: Please register your Notice of Intent if you are considering applying for the this grant opportunity.  RIC-MRFF team will then contact each applicant with further information.
  2. Update/complete Sapphire Profile: Each CI will need to obtain access to the Sapphire to complete this step. Applicants (including all Chief Investigators and Associate Investigators) are required to submit a registration form available on the Sapphire Landing Page. NHMRC copied RGMS users’ CV/Profile data from RGMS for migration into Sapphire on Wednesday 12 February 2020 after 5.00pm (AEDT). Any changes made to an RGMS profile after this date have not been replicated in Sapphire.
  3. Review documentation: Review the grant guidelines and category descriptors available below and at Grant Connect.
  4. Create and Complete the application:  Log in to Sapphire, select the relevant grant opportunity to complete the application.
  5. Submit “Review Ready” application to RIC: Submit application to RIC within the RIC internal submission period for review.
  6. Complete application: After taking feedback from the RIC team into consideration, complete the application in Sapphire. It is suggested advice is sought from colleagues, Faculty Mentors, etc. before finalising the application.
  7. Submit the UoM Authority to Submit Form:
  8. This form must be submitted to RIC electronically by the final internal closing date. The form should include:

    • CIA and Head of Department/Institute Director signatures

    Written evidence (e.g. email) from all CIs and AIs is no longer required for applications submitted via Sapphire. Accepting an invitation to participate in an application constitutes a written agreement to be named on an application. CIAs cannot submit an application for RAO certification until all research team members on their application have accepted the invitation.

    This is an NHMRC requirement and the application cannot be submitted to NHMRC until received.

  9. Final Submission:
  10. On the final internal closing date, the applicant must:

    • Certify the application via the ‘Certification’ function in the left panel of your Sapphire application. The applicant will be given the opportunity to download their application and attachments prior to the two-stage confirmation prompt before submission. The application will be locked once certified and status then will be Submitted to RAO.
    • Email RIC enquiries-mrff@unimelb.edu.au as well as a scanned, signed Authority to Submit form.
    • Should you require further information please contact Alvin Wong on 83449352 or via email
  11. RIC will submit the application: Once the application has been submitted to NHMRC, you will receive an email from RIC confirming submission.

Supporting documents

NHMRC Documents

Grant Guidelines

Assessment Criteria

Rating Scale for Overall Value and Risk

RIC Documents

Summary and Tips

Info Session - Presentation Slides

Grant Proposal template (with Assessment Criteria)

Authority to Submit Form


MRFF questions and primary email

Key Contacts

Alvin Wong and Catherine Nobes
T: Alvin - +61 3 8344 9352; Catherine - +61 3 8344 1471