Centres of Research Excellence (CRE)

For Funding Commencing in 2021

Research Office Contact:

This scheme is CLOSED.

Dates for Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) 2022 are yet to be announced. Please subscribe to our NHMRC mailing list to be notified of scheme dates when they are announced. 

The Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) Scheme provides support for teams of researchers to pursue collaborative research and develop capacity in clinical, population health and health services research. Funding will support four streams:

  • Clinical Research (up to six CRE grants available);
  • Health Services Research (up to four CRE grants available);
  • Public Health Research (up to four CRE grants available)
  • Dementia Research (up to three CRE grants available).

The duration of a CRE is five years and maximum funding that can be requested is $3M. There can be up to 10 Chief Investigators on a CRE.

For further information please see the NHMRC web page.

Please note: It is strongly recommended all CRE applicants subscribe to the Research Office NHMRC mailing list for up to date information on this scheme.

Key Dates

2020 round dates are indicated below. 2021 round dates are yet to be announced.

Applications Open in Sapphire Wednesday 21 October 2020
University Online Booking System Opens Thursday 22 October 2020
University Eligibility and Compliance Check Booking Period*Thursday 12 November - Wednesday 18 November 2020         
Minimum data requirements due in Sapphire Wednesday 18 November 2020
University Deadline for Final Application**9:00am Wednesday 25 November 2020
NHMRC deadline for submission 5:00pm Wednesday 2 December 2020
Proposed peer reviewFebruary - May 2021
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to commence their application in Sapphire ASAP after the scheme opens so that they can:
    • book their preferred day for an Eligibility and Compliance Check.
    • receive a copy of the scheme Essential Instructions developed by the Research Office to assist you in the completion of your application.
  • To enable the allocation of appropriate resourcing, bookings must be made prior to the defined scheme Eligibility and Compliance Check period. Access to book an Eligibility and Compliance Check will no longer be available once the Eligibility and Compliance Check period has commenced. This does not apply for schemes with continuous rounds (i.e. ARC Linkage Projects and NHMRC Partnership Projects).
  • The University deadline for final application (the internal deadline) requires the provision of a submission-ready proposal to the Research Grants Office submitted via Sapphire, as well as a fully signed application coversheet.

Key Changes in 2021

Applicants should note the following changes for the CRE 2021 Guidelines:

  • Additional funding is available for CREs in Dementia Research.
  • Limits have been clarified for the CRE opportunity: Duplicate applications should not be submitted across multiple CRE streams. Applicants must choose which CRE stream best fits their research proposal based on the definitions provided in section 2. Duplicate applications may be ineligible and excluded from consideration.
  • Assessment criteria (Section 6) – Explanatory text for assessment criterion five has been clarified.
  • Category Descriptors (Appendix B) – The seven-point assessment scale definitions have been aligned to those used in Ideas, Investigator and Synergy Grants, with subsequent minor adjustment of the category descriptor points.
  • NHMRC Relative to Opportunity policy (Appendix C) – Guidance on the typical circumstances considered under Relative to Opportunity has been clarified.
  • Guide to Applicants (Appendix D Section 2.1) – Guidance provided on the use of gender-neutral language in applications.
  • Guide to Applicants (Appendix D Sections 5.1 and 5.2) – The applicants’ record of NHMRC and Other Research Funding will not be provided to peer reviewers.
  • Guide to Applicants (Appendix D Section 5.4) – Clarification that Relative to Opportunity considerations include interruptions due to calamities such as COVID-19.
  • Guide to Applicants (Appendix D Section 6.7) – Additional guidance provided on responding to the assessment criteria.
  • Applicants address the Indigenous Research Excellence Criteria (IREC), if applicable, in the application form instead of the grant proposal.


The NHMRC is required to publish Grant Guidelines and all associated scheme documents on GrantConnect, the Australian Government whole-of-government, web-based, grant information system. You will need to sign in or create a User Registration account in GrantConnect to access all relevant documentation for NHMRC applications.

Once you have signed in to GrantConnect, the essential documents can be found by searching for the relevant scheme under ‘grant opportunities’ (open schemes) or ‘forecast opportunities’ (upcoming schemes). As the NHMRC often updates documents after the scheme opens, it is highly recommended that you sign up for alerts by editing your profile.

If you encounter any problems accessing or downloading these documents please contact research-applications@newcastle.edu.au or 4921 7733.

University Documents

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.