Medical Research

The Foundation has a long-established commitment to supporting innovation and excellence in medical research. Our Medical Research program area aims to advance understanding and improve treatment of major diseases.

Baker Institute researcher with Qtrap 4000


Support for medical research has been a cornerstone of the Foundation’s funding since it was established, with commitments of $54 million made to the sector. The Foundation has a proud history of supporting Australia’s leading medical research institutes, particularly in their formative stages when leverage is crucial for funding and endorsement. Even before he established his foundation, Sir Ian Potter, together with Ken and Baillieu Myer, provided start-up funding for The Howard Florey Institute of Experimental Physiology and Medicine.

Since then The Ian Potter Foundation has made establishment grants to a number of major centres and institutes, including Research Australia; The Ian Potter Centre of Cancer Genomics and Predictive Medicine at The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre; the National Trauma Research Institute at Alfred Hospital; The Bionic Ear Institute; The Ian Potter Malaria Laboratory at Burnet Institute, and The Blood and Bone Cancer Centre at St Vincent’s Institute, to name just some. 

Our latest major medical research grants continue this tradition with a commitment of $15 million over six years to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation towards the new Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre project, as well as $3 million to a collaboration between the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to create The Ian Potter Centre for Genomics and Personalised Medicine.

Moreover, our Medical Research program area prioritises support for world class biomedical research to bring new preventions and cures closer to reality, through the use of new technology, innovative practices and knowledge. Many of our grants support major initiatives by leading Australian research institutes, universities and teaching hospitals in innovative biomedical research, the anticipated benefits of which are likely to advance the research outcomes of the institution as a whole, and we also place emphasis on research into major diseases.

The Foundation also supports the Cynthia Banham Burns Fellowship to enable clinical research by an early-career researcher under the guidance of renowned burns specialist, Dr Fiona Wood at Royal Perth Hospital.

Funding Objectives

The Foundation has a long-established commitment to supporting innovation and excellence in medical research. Our Medical Research program area aims to advance understanding and improve treatment of major diseases by supporting major initiatives by leading Australian research institutes, universities and teaching hospitals in innovative biomedical research.

The Foundation is particularly interested in projects that encourage cross-institutional collaboration.


  • To support the provision of equipment and capital infrastructure to support outstanding research groups. 

The Foundation only makes grants over $100,000 in this program area. Applicants are required to speak with a Program Manager prior to submitting an application.

The Ian Potter Foundation prioritises applications with evidence of collaboration. Please ensure that you have alternative providers of funding, and that your application clearly considers any possible grant from the Foundation in this context.  We are unlikely to fund 100% of a project cost.

Applications must be accompanies by a letter from the requesting organisation's Chief Executive Officer or equivalent person ( e.g. Director of Institute, University Vice-Chancellor or Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research) attesting to the value of each application to the organisation. In the case of multiple applications in one or more categories, advice must also be provided as to to the priority ranking of all such applications.

Please also refer to our Funding Principles for further guidance.

Medical Research applications are considered by the Board of Governors once a year (Round 2). See below for specific dates.


The Ian Potter Foundation can only make grants to organisations with BOTH Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Item 1 and Tax Concession Charity (TCC) status.

It is important that you check the Eligibility section to ensure your organisation meets these Australian Tax Office requirements.

Under the terms of the deed of The Ian Potter Foundation and Australian taxation laws, The Ian Potter Foundation can only make grants to organisations with BOTH Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Item 1 and Tax Concession Charity (TCC) status.

Please make sure you read the funding objectives and specific exclusions for the Science program area before you apply for a grant.


Projects that fall into any of the following categories will not be considered for funding:

• Retrospective funding – projects which are already underway or which will commence prior to the date indicated in our online application information are not eligible for consideration
• Recurrent expenditure for which there is no future provision
• Capital or endowment funds established to provide a corpus for institutions
• Auspicing* is not permitted – the organisation applying must be the one that will run the program or project
• Applications for public charitable purposes outside the Commonwealth of Australia**
• Applications for projects that have previously been declined by the Foundation cannot be resubmitted
• Applications will not be accepted from organisations that have not successfully acquitted previous grants from the Foundation

Auspicing refers to the practice of an ineligible organisation (one that does not have DGR and TCC status) applying to the Foundation via an eligible organisation. Auspicing arrangements are excluded under the Foundation's guidelines. The organisation applying to the Foundation must be the organisation that will run the project or program for which a grant is being sought.

** Geographical constraints on grants
The Foundation is limited to providing money, property or benefits for public charitable purposes in the Commonwealth of Australia. However, the Foundation is able to provide a grant for activities outside the Commonwealth if the grant is made for a public charitable purpose in the Commonwealth. For example, a grant might be made to an Australian university to enable it to fund an overseas study tour by an Australian researcher engaged by the university.

Outcomes & Metrics

It is the aim of the Foundation that the projects that it funds will have long-term impact beyond immediate key performance indicators and outputs. In your Medical Research application, you will be asked to select up to five long-term outcomes. If only one or two apply, that is fine.

Long-term outcomes:

  • Improved financial sustainability
  • Improved health and wellbeing
  • Dissemination of best practice/new knowledge
  • Infrastructure development/capital works
  • Increased knowledge base
  • Increased skill base
  • Improved quality of policy dialogue and development
  • Improved service system/sector collaboration

In your final report, you will be asked how you progressed on your long-term outcomes. It’s helpful to select your metrics early on, so you can begin to collect information about your success as soon as your project begins. Some suggested metrics can be found in Medical Research Outcomes & Metrics guide.

Application Process

Ready to begin?

Grant requests in the Medical Research area are via a one-step application process. You can preview the application questions and supporting documents you will be required to submit.

Please note there are specific instructions you need to follow if you are a University.

The online application can only be accessed when a funding round is open.

Step 1: Check organisation eligibility.

Step 2: Check the travel fits with program area objectives, meets specific eligibility and exclusions criteria.

Step 3: Select Apply for a grant.

Step 3: You will then need to login by entering your username and password or create an account by clicking New Applicant?.

Step 4: Complete the Eligibility Quiz. If you meet eligibility requirements, you will proceed to the Application form.

After you save and close you can re-access your Application via the My Account Icon minilink using your username and password. 

Step 5: Complete your online application form. Ensure your Application is submitted by 5pm EST on the closing date.

We require a hard copy including all supporting documents as well as the online application. Both must be received by the 5.00pm EST deadline on the closing date. Applications postmarked with the closing date will not be accepted. Note that applications may be sent by courier or hand-delivered.

What happens next?

All grant applications are considered at the Foundation’s board meetings, which are held three times a year.

You will be advised by phone or email of the outcome of your application.

Apply for a Grant

Next Funding Round


Round 2, 2017

Applications open 27 March 2017

The Foundation has a long-established commitment to supporting innovation and excellence in medical research. Our Medical Research program area aims to advance understanding and improve treatment of major diseases.


Open: Monday 27 March 2017
Close: Friday 2 June 2017

Feature Case Studies

  • Malaria Vaccine

    The Burnet Institute is a leading Australian medical research and public health organisation whose vision and purpose is to improve the health of resource-poor and vulnerable groups. The support of private philanthropic grant-making bodies is a key factor in supporting medical research to achieve better health for poor and vulnerable communities both in Australia and internationally.

    Burnet Institute
    Lab fit-out for development of a blood-stage malaria vaccine
    June 2011 - May 2013

    Read more

    ‘Malaria continues to kill almost a million people per year, most of whom are children under five years of age in resource-poor settings. Effective control of malaria will rely on the development of malaria vaccines that can be delivered to these populations.’

    Dr James Beeson
    Head, Centre of Immunology, Burnet Institute

  • Centre for Kinomics

    The Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) is an independent organisation committed to unlocking the mysteries of childhood disease and investigating birth defects, cancer, and epilepsy. Established with a seed grant of $100,000 from the Foundation, CMRI used the funding as a launch pad to initiate a major expansion of its mass spectrometry facility, furthering research into brain function and cancer. 

    Children's Medical Research Institute
    A Superior Mass Spectrometry System for Accelerated Phosphoproteomics Research
    April 2009 - April 2012

    Read more

    ‘This facility offers hope to patients and families living with diseases where there is neither cure nor effective treatment. The research conducted has the potential to improve the future health of Australians and people around the world.’

    Tanya Plibersek
    Federal Health Minister (2012)

  • High frequency ultrasound sets new standard

    The Victor Chang Institute is a leading heart research institute producing improvements in a numerous areas of cardiac health, including the way heart transplants are performed and streamlining drug screening for harmful cardiac effects. This grant supported the purchase of a new ultrasound machine that has enabled significant new research projects including echocardiography on zebrafish - a seemingly unlikely but valuable research model for human heart disease - and helped the Institute to attract other funders.

    Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute
    Upgrading the High Frequency Echocardiography System
    July - September 2014

    Read more

    ‘This grant is a good example of how philanthropic funds can be leveraged to secure other donations. The equipment is a key asset for the Victor Chang Institute and will increase the number, speed, accuracy and range of echocardiography studies being carried out by a number of highly regarded investigators who are addressing fundamental, important issues relating to human heart function and disease. ’

    Professor Graeme Ryan AC
    Governor of The Ian Potter Foundation

  • SVI Integrated Clinical Research Facility

    The Integrated Clinical Research Facility aims to bridge the gap from medical research to clinical applications, which is vital to improving disease outcomes. This grant from The Ian Potter Foundation to St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research (SVI) supported the purchase of equipment to allow the high-throughput sorting and identification of cells. As part of a larger program, the equipment facilitates the application of research findings through clinical and commercial pathways.

    St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research
    Integrated Clinical Research Facility
    July 2013 - July 2014

    Read more



Support Australia's most innovative projects through a donation to The Ian Potter Foundation. Your donation will support projects that address areas of particular need or opportunity, managed by credible organisations with solid track records in their particular fields.

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