Grant applications


2020 grant round

AOA and the AOA Research Foundation (AOARF) acknowledge the significant impact that the COVID-19 virus is having on our membership. As a health sector leader, AOA has a responsibility to its members and their patients to respond to this situation in a calm, pragmatic way.
 
Applications for the 2020 round of grants from the AOA Research Foundation were due to open on 1 April. During the period leading up to the application opening date and throughout the application period, the AOARF Board would expect that our members and their research teams would be working on high quality grant applications. However, the Board acknowledges that the time normally allocated to research is most likely being taken up with other priorities in the interest of caring for the Australian community.
 
This situation has also impacted our members on the AOARF Board and the Research Advisory Committee, who are responsible for reviewing and marking every grant application following submission.
 
For these reasons, the AOARF Board have decided to postpone the 2020 AOARF grant application period. Further information regarding the 2020 grant round will be communicated later in the year when the situation has been reassessed.
 
We understand that this decision will likely cause some disappointment. Please be assured that this decision has not been made lightly and was made in consultation with the AOA CEO and the chair of the Research Advisory Committee. We know that some members have already begun preparing applications and we look forward to welcoming those applications when the time comes.
 
Please continue to take care of yourselves and those around you, and keep the lines of communication open.

Should you have any questions or require further information, please contact the Research Foundation at research@aoa.org.au

Application guidelines

The AOA Research Foundation Fund performs an important role in providing support for short-term studies (in general up to two years) and initiating long-term studies carried out by AOA members. The fund is also an important backup source of funding for established orthopaedic research groups who receive their major financial support from other funding organisations. The Fund does not provide long-term support for projects or 'top-up' funding for ongoing studies.

Research proposals must be a clearly identifiable segment of work, even though it may be part of a much broader research initiative. All grant applications will be treated confidentially and will only be viewed by approved assessors and the AOA Research Foundation Board.

Amounts awarded for individual grants will be at the discretion of the Research Foundation Board. The total amount awarded each year may vary depending on the number and type of grant applications received. 


Early Researcher Grants

The Early Researcher Grant (ERG) has been introduced to encourage younger surgeons to engage in orthopaedic research activities. ERG grants are restricted to AOA trainees or Fellows who have been awarded FRACS no more than three years prior.

These grants are intended to support pilot projects and other small research studies. Early career researchers applying for grants to support larger, high quality research projects may choose to apply for a regular grant rather than an ERG for these types of projects. Applications from early career researchers are expected to be of sufficient quality to merit award of a grant, and as such it is strongly recommended that individuals who are eligible for an ERG seek an experienced research mentor to assist them with their application. A list of potential mentors can be found via the AOA Research Networking Map or by contacting the Foundation on research@aoa.org.au


Scope of research

Research projects may cover a broad range of clinical and laboratory investigations that are relevant to the field of orthopaedics. Other types of research such as data linkage studies, observational studies, registry-based research and surgical education research will also be considered.

Special consideration will be given to applications that propose to open up new areas of research as well as to projects that cover areas that would not be expected to attract funds from other funding organisations. For the purpose of encouraging clinical research, this will be considered separately for funding from laboratory research. Clinical research may be funded over two years at the discretion of the AOA Research Foundation Board and pending receipt of an interim annual progress report indicating satisfactory progress with the project deliverables.

Clinical research

Clinical research is a study in human volunteers to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of medications, biologics, diagnostics or medical devices by monitoring their effects on large groups of people.

Volunteers are recruited and written informed consent to take part in the study is obtained. Subjects are generally divided into two or more groups, including a control group that does not receive the experimental treatment, receives a placebo (inactive substance) instead, or receives a tried-and-true therapy/diagnostic for comparison purposes.


Targeted research

The Research Foundation has two methods of overseeing sponsored research:

  • A request for independent research in a particular field can be tendered and supervised by the AOA Research Foundation, or
  • A sponsor of requested research may nominate a researcher but the supervision and auditing of the research is overseen by the AOA Research Foundation.

The latter method attracts an administrative cost of 10 per cent of the research grant, up to a maximum of $1000.

This initiative on the part of the Foundation removes any potential for conflict of interest with a known company supporting known research by known researchers.  All research funds will be allocated by the Research Foundation Scientific Committee, with awards being based purely upon scientific merit.

The program will allow a significant enhancement of the current symbiotic relationship.


Eligibility

The lead chief investigator must be an AOA Affiliate, Associate or Fellow. In addition, one of the other chief investigators must be an AOA Affiliate, Associate or Fellow.

The lead chief investigator will be deemed to be the Research Project Coordinator (RPC), who is responsible for communication between the AOA Research Foundation and the research institution, and the direction of the research. The RPC is responsible for the timely submission of the application, and the annual audit forms and financial statements to the AOA Research Foundation. The RPC is responsible for the subsequent presentation of the results of the research at the AOA Annual Scientific Meeting within three years of receiving the grant.

Grant applications are open to investigators at academic/university settings and others in the public and private sectors.

Successful applicants are not eligible to apply for funding in the year following the successful application.

All applications will be judged on a competitive basis, without regard to the academic rank or title of the investigators. The researchers involved in patient care must be certified to practise their profession at their institution and must obtain institutional ethical approval. Applications for registry funding should include an ethics committee statement from the institution that will support the registry.


New Investigators

The AOA Research Foundation strongly encourages applications from new investigators. New investigators will not be disadvantaged in the scoring system, particularly as it relates to track records. Assessment of applications from new investigators will not include a score for track record. In order to be assessed as a new investigator, applicants must supply a curriculum vitae with their application and must not have been a chief investigator on any previous AOA grant application. This is intended to encourage our new and younger colleagues to apply for AOA Research Foundation grants. 


Use of Research Foundation funds

In general, funds can be allocated for:

  • a part-time salary of a research assistant but not for salaried employees of research institutions, and
  • consumable items and inexpensive items of equipment essential to the conduct of the research.

Expensive pieces of equipment (greater than $5,000) cannot be funded unless it is shown they will be used by an orthopaedic research group over a long period. At least two quotes for the purchase of such items must accompany the grant application.

Funds are not available for:

  • full-time personal secretarial assistance
  • personal computers
  • items considered standard equipment for any research institution
  • travel expenses.

Where funding for a research project has already been provided by other organisations, matched or otherwise, this will be viewed as a positive. This should be clearly articulated in the proposed budget for the research grant application. If funds from other sources become available to the applicant during the review or tenure of a Foundation research grant, the RPC must inform the Foundation in writing. The AOA Research Foundation Board may choose to terminate the award, in which case the unexpended balance must be returned to the AOA Research Foundation.


Human and/or animal subjects/tissues

When human subjects or tissues are to be used in a research project, it is the responsibility of the grant recipient and their institution to ensure that the institution has a complete copy of the research protocol approved by the institution's human subject review board, a copy of that board's current approval notice, and a copy of the patient informed consent form(s). If awarded a grant, these documents must be submitted before funding can be dispersed.

The AOA Research Foundation observes the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)'s Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes. Applicants for grants must accept and abide by the NHMRC animal experiment guidelines. All applications must be accompanied by an institutional ethics committee report whenever studies are to be carried out using humans or animals. If awarded a grant, this report must be submitted before funding can begin. Institutional ethics committees must be constituted according to the guidelines of the NHMRC. Applications should also be signed by the head of the department and of the institution.

All entities that receive funding from the AOA Research Foundation must adhere to the following principles:

  • animals shall be used in biomedical research only when no other means of obtaining scientifically sound, valid and useful results are available
  • the minimum number of appropriate animals required to obtain and validate results shall be used
  • the acquisition, care and use of animals must be in accordance with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations
  • certifications must be received from research facilities prior to being approved for a research grant that the facility, its researchers and employees adhere to the guidelines of the NHMRC
in cases requiring the death of an animal, only the most appropriate and humane form of euthanasia shall be used consistent with the purpose of the research

Further information

Should you have any questions regarding the AOA Research Foundation or the grant application process, please contact the Foundation on (02) 8071 8024 or email research@aoa.org.au