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Managing the assessment process

The Health Research Council identifies and funds research with the potential to significantly improve health and wellbeing, bringing maximum benefit and value to the New Zealand population.

Magnifying glass on blue background

We receive up to 900 applications for research funding each year, but are only able to invest in 20-30% of these, to the value of more than $100 million a year.

The significant process of assessing these applications – and narrowing them down to those of potentially highest benefit – is managed by the HRC Investment Processes team.

We run a fair, transparent and robust peer-review process that meets international standards of best practice. This involves a number of committees, including science assessing committees (which may be multi-disciplinary or comprised of expertise in particular research fields), and engages around 700 national and international reviewers to ensure we fund research of high quality, led by researchers with the capability to deliver.

The research we fund must also meet ethical approval from an ethics committee accredited by the HRC Ethics Committee, before commencing. Find out more in monitoring ethics and safety.

More about our statutory and advisory committees

Biomedical Research Committee

The Biomedical Research Committee is a statutory HRC committee set out in the HRC Act, with members appointed by the HRC Council. The committee advises on biomedical research funding that's offered through a range of HRC grant types, such as Project and Programme grants and Career Development Awards.

Biomedical Research Committee members are responsible for chairing Science Assessing Committees (SACs). These committees score research applications and produce a ranked list of fundable proposals for assisting funding recommendations to the HRC Council.

The Biomedical Research Committee also monitors and reports on grantees' performance.

The functions of the Biomedical Research Committee are governed by Sections 13, 14, 17, 18 and 19 of the Health Research Council Act 1990, and the criteria for membership is set out in Section 20. Click here for the committee's Terms of Reference.

Committee members:

  • Professor Laura Bennet, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland
  • Professor Vicky Cameron - Chair, University of Otago, Christchurch
  • Professor Nicola Dalbeth (co-opted for one-year term), School of Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland
  • Associate Professor Julia Horsfield, Department of Pathology, University of Otago, Dunedin
  • Professor Anne La Flamme, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington
  • Associate Professor Patrick Manning (co-opted for one-year extension), Dunedin Hospital, Southern District Health Board
  • Associate Professor Sally McCormick, Department of Biochemistry, Otago School of Medical Sciences, University of Otago
  • Professor John Reynolds, Department of Anatomy, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin
  • Dr Robert Weinkove, Wellington Blood and Cancer Centre, Wellington Hospital, Capital and Coast District Health Board, Wellington.

Committee Secretary: Dr Katie Palastanga - Research Investment Manager

Public Health Research Committee

The Public Health Research Committee is a statutory HRC committee set out in the HRC Act, with members appointed by the HRC Council. The committee advises on public health research funding that's offered through a range of HRC grant types, such as Project and Programme grants and Career Development Awards.

Public Health Research Committee members are responsible for chairing Science Assessing Committees (SACs) which score applications and produce a ranked list of fundable proposals for assisting funding recommendations to the HRC Council.

The Public Health Research Committee also monitors and reports on grantees' performance.

The functions of the Public Health Research Committee are governed by Sections 16 to 19 of the Health Research Council Act 1990, and the criteria for membership is set out in Section 20. Click here for the committee's Terms of Reference.

Committee members:

  • Professor Jeroen Douwes - Chair, Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University, Wellington
  • Professor Chris Bullen, National Institute for Health Innovation, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland
  • Professor Sarah Derrett, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, Division of Health Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin
  • Professor Jane Koziol-McLain, Division of Health Care Practice, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland
  • Dr Lisa Te Morenga, School of Health, Faculty of Health, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington
  • Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, School of Māori Studies and Pacific Studies – Te Wananga o Waipapa, Faculty of Arts, The University of Auckland, Auckland
  • Professor Mark Weatherall, Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington

Committee Secretary: Luke Garland - Research Investment Manager

Māori Health Committee

The Māori Health Committee is a statutory committee of the HRC and is responsible for advising Council on health research for Māori, including cultural issues relating to the gathering, verification, and validation of information. It held its first meeting on 14 February 1991, which was chaired by the late Professor Eru Pomare (Te Atiawa, Ngati Toa, Ngati Kahungunu, Rongomaiwahine, Rongowhakaata), the founding Chair of the MHC.

Peer review is undertaken each year by appointing Māori health assessing committees with expertise specific to the applications within a given funding round. The Māori health assessing committees are chaired by a Māori Health Committee member with other members recruited from qualified Māori researchers.

See our Māori Health section for committee membership and Terms of Reference.

Pacific Health Research Committee

The Pacific Health Research Committee provides the HRC with advice about Pacific health research priorities and Pacific health research workforce development. It is a standing committee founded by the HRC in recognition of the need to have high-level expertise in managing Pacific health research investment.

There is also a Pacific Assessing Committee that assesses the Pacific Career Development Awards and Pacific Project applications, and makes recommendations to the HRC Council about which applications to support.

See our Pacific Health section for committee membership and Terms of Reference.

Ethics Committee

 It is the responsibility of the Health Research Council Ethics Committee to ensure that independent ethical assessment of any proposed research submitted to the HRC has been carried out by an ethics committee approved by the HRC Ethics Committee. 

See our Monitoring ethics and safety section for committee membership and Terms of Reference.