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Thanks to the visionary support of a Foundation donor, Mrs Patricia Pitman, a groundbreaking initiative is unfolding in cardiac care at the Royal Hobart Hospital. With over 37,000 Tasmanians grappling with heart disease, Patricia's generosity has ignited hope for those living with multiple types of heart conditions.

There’s a dedicated clinic within the Royal Hobart Hospital, known as the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic (RACPC), which helps Tasmanians with heart conditions. Doctors in this clinic can quickly check patients with heart problems, offering swift assessment and diagnosis and helping patients avoid unnecessary emergency room visits.

It was a proven success, however the team in the RACPC wanted to develop a system where they could help people who weren’t able to visit the clinic in person and ensure they receive the same high-quality care. Through a new research trial, they used video calls (telehealth) to engage these patients, manage heart disease risks and improve care for people that often find it difficult to access care.

Through this research project, the team looked at how the clinics were run and talked to the doctors and nurses to see what could be improved. They also looked at how patients faired after using the telehealth service compared to those who visited the clinic in person, focusing on how often they ended up back in the emergency room, if they had serious heart problems later and how happy they were with their care.

The findings from this study were exciting. They showed that the telehealth version of the RACPC works just as well as seeing patients face-to-face, even reducing the need for extra tests to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that people living in remote and rural areas, can still get expert help for chest pain without travelling, which could be a game-changer not just during a pandemic but also in day-to-day life.

Thanks to Patricia Pitman's generosity, the Royal Hobart Hospital is leading the way in using technology to improve heart health care. The study's chief investigator, Dr Niamh Chapman, and leading local cardiologist, Dr Andrew Black, who are part of this project, are now helping create new national guidelines for treating heart problems. Their work shows how new ideas and technology can make a big difference in health care.

This project isn't just about improving things for people with heart problems today. It's about setting up a system that can help even more people in the future, no matter where they live. This initiative exemplifies how technological advancements can be harnessed to meet healthcare challenges and improve the quality of life for countless individuals.

As we commemorate World Cancer Day on 4 February 2024, we want to highlight how the generous support of our Foundation donors are tackling Tasmania’s high prostate cancer rates.

Thanks to community support, the Foundation is funding a study focused on precision care for men with prostate cancer, a disease that affects over 25000 men in Australia each year. The study, led by Dr Kelsie Raspin, will examine how prostate cancer care can be transformed through a consumer-engaged approach, ensuring that patient insights and preferences spearhead this medical revolution.

The dedicated research team are doing this by recruiting Tasmanian men diagnosed with high-grade prostate cancer, establishing a core outcome set for genomic prostate cancer medicine and creating an invaluable database of rare prostate cancer variants identified in high-grade prostate cancer patients.

Since launching in 2023, the research team have already made substantial headway on the genetic analysis of prostate cancer. Initial participants in the study have had their DNA examined through whole-genomic sequencing, and the researchers are now investigating rare variants considered clinically actionable. This information will be given to the participants, which may provide them with vital information about why they have prostate cancer and may then inform their future treatment decisions.  

Ove the next two years, the team will recruit more participants and undertake further whole-genome sequencing to unveil further insights into prostate cancer genetics. They will also establish a Variant Curation Database, which is set to be a linchpin in future prostate cancer research and treatment.

Precision Care for Men with Prostate Cancer is more than a study — it's a testament to genomic innovation, community engagement, and hope, steering us towards a future where cancer treatment is as personalised as the DNA it seeks to unravel. We thank all our donors for their support and allowing us to help improve the health outcomes of men with prostate cancer.

In a landmark decision Australia has recently announced a ban on engineered stone, effective from July 2024, in response to the growing health crisis of workers developing silicosis. This momentous step highlights the critical role of scientific research in shaping public policy and safeguarding worker health.

Supporters of the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation proudly contributed to this pivotal change, by providing funding for a ground-breaking study on the dangers of artificial stone benchtops. The study was led by Professor Zosky and revealed alarming facts about the engineered stone industry in Tasmania. Over 20 per cent of workers exposed to dust from cutting artificial stone benchtops showed signs of accelerated silicosis, a severe lung disease. The project aimed to identify the most hazardous materials in engineered stone and the cellular mechanisms contributing to the disease's severity. This approach was crucial in understanding the unique dangers posed by engineered stone dusts, different from typical silica dusts.

Photo credit: Chris Kidd - The Mercury Newspaper

Recently, Professor Zosky has been in the news again with his latest findings, adding another dimension to this complex issue. In collaboration with the University of Adelaide, his new research found that metals like cobalt and aluminium in engineered stone also pose significant health risks. These discoveries have reinvigorated calls for a comprehensive ban on engineered stone, considering not only the silica content but also the presence of other harmful components.

The unanimous decision by Commonwealth, state, and territory workplace ministers to implement a national ban on engineered stone is a testament to the power of dedicated research in driving policy changes. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, Professor Zosky's work significantly influenced public awareness and played a key role in a decision that will save countless lives.

As Australia prepares for this ban, it’s clear that the path to safer workplaces is paved with diligent research and informed policy decisions. The Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation remains dedicated to supporting such vital research, ensuring that the health and safety of workers remains at the forefront of industry practices.

As we celebrate the spirit of giving and togetherness this festive season, we want to ask if you will give the ultimate gift of helping others by making a life-saving gift to support Alzheimer’s disease research.

We’d like to introduce you to Rowan, a 72-year-old proud Tasmanian, who regrettably watched his eldest brother Colin succumb to Alzheimer’s disease some years ago. Colin was the heart of every family gathering and activity. He was the best friend to all his siblings and Rowan’s children adored ‘pop’.

The family’s world came crashing down when they noticed Colin started to forget basic details and subsequently had a significant shift in his personality, becoming increasingly sombre in his ways.

“I remember the day when Colin let us all know that things had changed in his life after a diagnosis of late-stage Alzheimer’s disease and that’s when it all made sense,” said Rowan.

“It was crushing to watch him get worse and became harder for us to provide him with the constant support, particularly after he had fallen into a deep sleep in his final stages of life.”

On Colin’s last day, Rowan recalls that he and his older brother Brendon sat at the end of his hospital bed chatting. Colin hadn’t spoken in weeks, but in that emotional moment Rowan’s wife, a Nurse Practitioner, cheerfully entered the room during her rounds. She addressed Colin and asked about the light-hearted banter shared by Rowan and Brendon during their time at his bedside.

Colin suddenly murmured “Yes, they’re ratbags chatting over me while I lay here in my bed, but I enjoy hearing their voices”.

“They were his last spoken words before he passed away later that evening. It was a very sad, but perfect final day,” describes Rowan.

Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation funded researcher Associate Professor Lyn Goldberg

Associate Professor Lyn Goldberg believes tongue strength could be an early biomarker for the early detection of dementia.

The Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation now needs your help to get ahead of Alzheimer’s disease and help families like Rowan and Colin’s.

We are on the verge of making some incredible breakthroughs to detect Alzheimer’s disease decades before symptoms emerge and help people like Colin receive early intervention - but we need your help to make this possible.

Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation researcher and speech pathologist Dr Lyn Goldberg believes that a person’s tongue strength may be an important, but yet unrecognised contributing factor to early detection!

With your support, Dr Goldberg and a dedicated team of Tasmanian researchers will conduct an innovative study to investigate how a loss of tongue strength may help predict this awful disease. These results will inform the development of an easily accessible and low-cost test to identify a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Goldberg and her team will study people who are concerned about their thinking and memory, but who do not have a diagnosis of dementia, to measure their tongue strength and ability to repeat a series of syllables as fast as they can. Their results will be compared to results from a group of people who have no concerns about thinking and memory. People in both groups will also have highly specialised blood tests which can predict Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Goldberg explains “We believe these results will help us identify a further non-invasive, affordable and easily accessible way to predict potential cognitive decline.”

Rowan and his siblings are already keen to register for Dr Goldberg’s upcoming study. “This seems like the perfect way to help provide essential health data to help others, while also taking early steps to ensure I’m safeguarding my brain health for as long as I can,” Rowan explains.

Please, this Christmas, will you consider giving a gift to the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation to help Dr Goldberg and her team explore how tongue strength can revolutionise the way we diagnose and ultimately treat Alzheimer’s disease?

Your generous tax-deductible donation will not only help local Tasmanians but will make a profound impact the health and wellbeing of people worldwide.

Thank you for supporting medical research. With your help, we can create a brighter and healthier future for our community this Christmas.

P.S. The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease set to triple by 2050. Will you make a tax-deductible donation this Christmas to help fund ground-breaking new research to revolutionise how doctors test and treat this terrible disease?

On 21 September 2023, the Foundation proudly hosted a remarkable event to celebrate our supporters who have chosen to leave a gift in their Will. The Friends for the Future event at Hadley’s Orient Hotel was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate legacy giving and unite a community of like-minded individuals who are committed to improving the health and wellbeing for future generations.   

Guests were treated to an enlightening presentation by Dr Niles Nelson, who discussed her research into families with blood cancers. Niles’ ground-breaking research was made possible through the generous bequest of the late Mrs Betty Rose Bateman, who had the incredible foresight of leaving a gift in her Will to the Foundation. Mrs Bateman’s gift has also been instrumental in funding two further research projects on predicting apnoea in premature infants and a game-changing study on the Hobart Method.

An event like this wouldn't be possible without the incredible support of the Foundation's event partner Butler McIntyre & Butler. Their warm and approachable team also played an important role in assisting our guests, addressing their questions about the process of making and updating their Wills, and ensuring that their intentions were aligned.

Engaging with such a dedicated group of Foundation supporters in this intimate setting was a true pleasure. It was a delight to be able to share our unwavering passion for medical research and the transformative impact it can have on our community.

If you're inspired by the idea of joining this exclusive group and becoming a Friend for the Future, please reach out to our friendly team on 03 6166 1319 or at research@rhhresearchfoundation.org to find out more.  

Thanks to the ongoing support of our community, the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation has proudly improved the lives of premature babies worldwide. One recent Foundation-funded study has revealed long-term positive results for a Hobart-designed technique designed to reduce ongoing respiratory problems for babies born too soon.

Pre-term babies often receive a natural product called surfactant, designed to promote lung expansion and improve their oxygen levels. A decade ago, the Foundation funded Professor Peter Dargaville and his team at the Royal Hobart Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to develop a less-invasive procedure to deliver surfactant to these vulnerable newborn babies. Known as the "Hobart Method", this procedure has been adopted by many neonatal intensive care units worldwide.

More recently, the Foundation funded Professor Dargaville and his team to examine the long-term impacts of this incredible technique through the OPTIMIST-A trial, with the results recently published in the prestigious Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). The study examined two groups of pre-term babies, with one receiving surfactant via the Hobart Method and another control group that didn't receive the Hobart Method. Incredibly, the study found a 34 per cent reduction in respiratory-related hospitalisations after two years for children who received surfactant via the Hobart method. Parents also reported reduced wheezing and breathing difficulties for children in this active group.

Professor Dargaville proudly states, "We think that the findings of our follow-up study, showing as they did such a significant improvement in respiratory health, will cement the place of this therapy for pre-term infants worldwide."

None of this would have been possible without the support of our donors, who played a pivotal role in turning this vision into reality. Thanks to the generosity of the local community, the Foundation was able to fund the original project and give the research team the necessary boost to successfully carry out the follow-up study to prove the treatment's long-term success.

The OPTIMIST-A trial was coordinated and run by Menzies and supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

You can support studies like the Hobart Method by donating to the Foundation at donate.rhhresearchfoundation.org or calling 03 6166 1319.

High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, with more than one in three Tasmanian adults living with the condition and many others likely undiagnosed or ineffectively treated. With a commitment to improving the health outcomes of our community, the Foundation has supported critical research to better detect and manage this condition.

Leading this ground-breaking research is Dr Martin Schultz and his team at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, who have investigated how exercise can identify people with high blood pressure.

“My research program has established that abnormally raised blood pressure during clinical exercise testing (termed a ‘hypertensive response to exercise’) is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, likely because of uncontrolled high blood pressure that has not been detected via standard measures of blood pressure taken at rest,” Dr Schultz explains.

Dr Schultz has continued his research into this condition through a recent Foundation-funded study known as the Exercise Stress Test Collaboration (EXERTION) Study. The EXERTION Study is a national database of clinical exercise stress tests linked to cardiovascular disease outcomes.

“Funding from the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation is allowing us to continue to explore the clinical value of measuring blood pressure during exercise. Using data from the EXERTION Study, we discovered that to make a clinical interpretation of a hypertensive response to exercise, we must also consider individual fitness levels,” Dr Schultz says.

These critical observations will likely contribute to international guidelines for exercise testing. Dr Schultz hopes his work will reduce the community’s significant burden of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Your donations will help us support researchers like Dr Martin Schultz. Please donate today at donate.rhhresearchfoundation.org or call 03 6166 1319.

Imagine a world where every mother and her baby receive the best possible care, backed by ground-breaking medical research. Thanks to the incredible donations to the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation, this vision is becoming a reality. The generosity of the community has made it possible for us to fund vital research projects that focus on supporting mums and their precious little ones.

One Foundation-funded study that concluded earlier this year, focused on improving the health outcomes for pregnant women. Two-thirds of Australian adults grapple with the burden of being overweight or obese, and unfortunately, expecting mothers often contribute to this alarming trend. Acknowledging the pressing need for change, Dr Michelle Kilpatrick spearheaded the Health in Preconception, Pregnancy, and Post-Birth (HiPPP) study at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

Dr Kilpatrick and her team explored strategies to empower pregnant women attending the hospital, to help them make positive lifestyle changes to improve health outcomes for themselves and their precious babies. The HiPPP study triumphed by establishing ground-breaking partnerships with researchers and clinicians from hospitals across the country and overseas to implement evidence-based training programs to provide practical and sustainable support to mothers.

Dr Kilpatrick expressed her heartfelt gratitude acknowledging that this research “would not have been possible without the support of the Foundation and we thank the donors for helping improve the health of mothers and babies in Tasmania."

To continue to support mothers and their babies, the Foundation funded another crucial study this year that is focused on women grappling with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who aspire to start a family. As the prevalence of kidney disease continues to rise, particularly among women contemplating motherhood, this project carries immense significance. Led by Prof Matthew Jose, the project aims to provide population estimates linking kidney function to maternal and baby outcomes. By unravelling this crucial connection, the study seeks to lay the groundwork for implementing preventative measures and will allow healthcare professionals to provide informed guidance and support to women who want to start a family.

Thanks to all our donors for supporting the Foundation and the next generations of Tasmanians.

You can support research to help mothers and their babies by donating to the Foundation online or calling 03 6166 1319.

Dr Michelle Kilpatrick and  patient
Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation funded researcher Dr Michelle Kilpatrick speaks with her patient

For years, the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation has been dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of our community by funding innovative medical research. Thanks to the generosity of our community, we have been able to make incredible strides towards a brighter and healthier future for local Tasmanians.

It was through this generosity that a Tasmanian doctor was able to pioneer a less invasive way to treat premature babies with breathing problems. In 2012, the Foundation provided funding for Professor Peter Dargaville and his team at the RHH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to develop this novel procedure, using a catheter instead of inserting a breathing tube, to treat newborns in respiratory distress. Now known as the Hobart Method, it has since changed the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable babies around the world.

Twins Emmy and Mila, who were born 10 weeks early, had their lives saved by this revolutionary treatment. Looking at them now you couldn’t tell them apart from any other nine year old!

The twins' mum Lauren said that “It was an easy choice to opt for the Hobart Method as opposed to the more invasive alternative.”

She explained that the traditional method would have “required intubation, which is a tricky procedure in itself, and carries risks of pneumonia, as well as possible damage to the lungs and vocal cords.”

The revolutionary and less invasive Hobart Method “left no short-term damage and we’ve seen no long-term issues in the girls,” a delighted Lauren explained.

The Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation urgently needs your help to keep funding ground-breaking research to change the lives of local Tasmanians like Emmy and Mila.

Your gift to the Foundation will allow us to develop new treatments and cures for heart and lung conditions in premature babies, cancer, cardiac disease, dementia, and other conditions that impact our local community. Your support will be vital to improving the quality of life for Tasmanians living with a variety of health conditions.

So, this tax time, please donate to the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation and allow us to keep funding innovative research right here in Tasmania. Your local gift can truly make a difference and help save lives.

P.S. The Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation needs your help, now more than ever, to fund medical research that directly benefits the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians. Can you make a tax deductible donation today to help save lives?

Thanks to the generosity of our local community, the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation is proudly continuing its 26-year tradition of funding innovative research projects to improve the lives of our local community. Recently the Foundation announced that it will be granting more than $1.6 million over the next three years to continue this tradition of giving to fund life-saving medical research projects in Tasmania.

The grant funding will be distributed among Tasmanian researchers who are investigating a range of health issues including cancer, heart disease, dementia, and chronic diseases. Grants have been allocated to support innovative pilot studies, emerging research projects and multi-year investigations across these areas.

The Foundation’s CEO, Steph Furler, explains that these research projects will make a huge difference to the lives of people in Tasmania.

“It’s exciting to know that our researchers will be investigating a variety of health conditions, that will lead to better treatments and care for patients in Tasmania,” she said.

“We are so grateful to our local community who continue to support medical research projects, knowing that it will help improve the lives of people around them.”

Researchers in the 2023 Foundation-funded projects will examine a range of health conditions. Project include studying sleep and wake patterns to identify rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder, analysing tremors to develop a new pre-cognitive test for dementia, and looking at how precision medicine can be used to better care for men with prostate cancer in Tasmania. A team will also investigate critical decision making for patients with end-stage kidney disease, thanks to the Foundation’s inaugural Lowenthal-Muller grant.

Thank you again to everyone who continues to support the Foundation and ensure that medical research projects continue to thrive in Tasmania.

(Pictured: Dr. Kelsie Raspin is our 2023 Major Project Grant recipient)

To find out more about the projects that the Foundation has supported in 2023, please visit our research grants page.

Millions of Australians have insulin resistance, a silent condition that often has no symptoms. But left untreated it can lead to much more serious diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dementia. We now need your support to raise $25,000 to find out what causes this concerning condition.

This essential funding will support Dr Dino Premilovac and a team of expert researchers to investigate the relationship between air pollution and insulin resistance. In this world-first study, Dr Premilovac will look at the impacts of air pollution from vehicles and bushfire smoke and if it triggers insulin resistance.

Dr Premilovac explains that “studies from around the world show that living close to a major road or in highly polluted cities is associated with increased risk of developing obesity and insulin resistance, but we do not understand how or why this occurs.”

“Our work is the first of its kind and will investigate how air pollution alters the function of the hormone insulin in the body to cause insulin resistance,” he notes.

This study is particularly relevant to Tasmanians, who are often exposed to extremely high levels of air pollution from bushfire smoke and wood heaters. Tasmanians were exposed to extremely hazardous air particles during the 2020 bushfires when a thick cloud of smoke blanketed the state for weeks on end. We're further exposed to this air pollution during winter, as we sit by roaring wood fires to stay warm.

The Foundation’s CEO, Stephanie Furler, called for the Foundation community to give generously and support this essential project. “I encourage you to give generously and help us raise $25,000 to fund this life-saving campaign.”

“Not only will this research help change lives, but it will be instrumental in shaping public policy and support future research into other diseases that are affected by insulin resistance.”

Your donations will help support this life-saving research. Donate online today or call (03) 6166 1319.

Dr Dino Premilovac and his research team
Dr Dino Premilovac and his research team

This year the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation is proud to be celebrating our 25th anniversary! Over that time, thanks to generous community support, we have invested $10 million across hundreds of local medical research projects. We've highlighted a few of these projects below, showing your support has helped improve countless lives both here in Tasmania and around the world.

Saving lives from the deadly jack jumper ant

In 1999 The Foundation started supporting Dr Simon Brown and his team, who were exploring treatments into potentially lethal jack jumper ant stings. As a result of this ground-breaking research, a jack jumper desensitisation clinic was established at the Royal Hobart Hospital and deaths from jack jumper ant stings have been prevented in Tasmania ever since.

Dr Simon Brown in the lab

Tasmanian families have opened our eyes to glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye condition that, if left untreated, can cause blindness. Over 25 years ago, the Foundation supported the Glaucoma Inheritance Study in Tasmania under the guidance of Professor David Mackey AO to capture DNA samples to help find the genes that cause the disease. It has now become one of the longest-running investigations that helps predict who is at risk of developing the disease and preventing blindness.

Professor David Mackey

Supporting breathing patterns of premature babies

A Foundation-funded study led by Professor Peter Dargaville has gone on to change the lives of premature babies around the world. In 2012, the team developed a less invasive approach to deliver life-saving medication to help these infants breathe and limit complications. After further global studies, the Hobart Method was proven to be a game-changing therapy and quickly gained traction in neonatal intensive care units around the world.

Professor Peter Dargaville

Developing the TAS Test, a non-invasive screening test for Alzheimer’s disease

More recently, the Foundation has been funding research into the development of a non-invasive screening test to detect the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Led by Associate Professor Jane Alty, this tool will enable people with early-stage Alzheimer’s to commence intensive risk modification and enter drug trials before their brain is irreparably damaged.

Associate Professor Jane Alty

Thank you to all of you who have been on our journey with us over this time - we couldn't do it without you. But there is still so much more research to be done! Please donate today, so we can continue to fund incredible medical research right here in Tasmania and improve outcomes for people around the world. Call our office on (03) 6166 1319 or donate online.

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer to affect Tasmanian men. For some, genetic factors mean they have a higher risk of developing an aggressive form of the disease. But thanks to recent breakthroughs in genetic testing, there are now new ways of diagnosing patients and allowing for more targeted treatments.

With all this new knowledge, it is vital that prostate cancer patients are engaged around the use of genetic information and the outcomes that matter the most to men are addressed. And that’s exactly what Professor Jo Dickinson and a team of expert researchers have set out to achieve in their new study “Precision Medicine for Men with Prostate Cancer in Tasmania,” which was funded by a Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation grant.

This is the first study in regional Australia to look at how men with prostate cancer feel about the use of genetic information in diagnosis and treatment of the disease, and determine which outcomes are most important to them. The team will be able to use this information to deliver better patient care and research in Tasmania.

Professor Dickinson is passionate about her work and believes it’s an inspiring time to be working in genetic research.

“We’re now seeing game-changing improvements in treatment options that can be delivered through genetic discoveries, not just in prostate cancer but in many diseases,” she explains.

This Foundation-funded study is expected to be completed by 2023, with patient feedback being incorporated to deliver better and more targeted care. We need your support to continue to fund innovative, patient-focused research like this. Make a donation online or call our office on (03) 6166 1319 to make your donation today.

Tasmania has the highest incidence of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) of any state in Australia, with approximately 110 people with CF.  One of the most dramatic impacts of CF is a dysfunctional immune response – this includes a hyper-inflammatory response that often proves ineffective when faced with ongoing respiratory infections. The associated impact on health and wellbeing for those living with CF can be significant.

Local research undertaken by Dr Louise Roddam and her team, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Sydney and funded by the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation, has recently explored the widespread nature of immune dysfunction in people with CF. Most particularly, the team has defined the nature of dysfunction at the greatest level of detail compared to any studies undertaken to date. As a result of this analysis, they have observed a difference in important regulatory immune cells amongst people with CF when compared to the wider population. Notably, this confirms a negative impact on lung function and also reflects lung tissue damage.
 
This finding is important because this investigation can now be used to continually monitor lung function and disease progression in people with CF. In advancing the techniques used by Dr Roddam and her team, future analyses can now also be undertaken using only very small volumes of peripheral blood (about half a teaspoon), far less than through previous approaches.
 
Coupled with these steps forward, this new insight into immune dysfunction amongst those living with CF could also enable a shift in care towards a greater focus on treating immune defects while also better targeting infection.  Importantly, this will ultimately decrease the overall impact of CF in Tasmania!  The new approach offers a means of evaluating the effectiveness of medication used to respond to CF and immune dysfunction, further aiding the management of this condition.
 
As part of the team’s investigations, they also identified a widespread degree of immune dysfunction in the parents of CF children enrolled in the study, noting that these parents were not living with CF themselves. While we already know that 1 in 25 Australians are CF carriers, this research suggests that these folk also have subtle changes in their immune cells which may potentially influence susceptibility to the development of a number of disorders. While the clinical consequences, if any, are yet to be fully investigated, this research provided a basis for future exploration.
 
To progress this research, Dr Roddam’s team has developed an ‘antibody panel’ to assess immune cell dysfunction further. But until recently, the wider studies undertaken in Australia have focused on using specialised antibodies that have only been available at the University of Sydney and which rely on the use of analytical equipment that is not currently available in Tasmania.
 
To overcome this challenge, a new project, jointly funded by the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation and Cystic Fibrosis Tasmania, aims to modify and optimise the antibody panel so that local researchers can begin steps to further profile immune cells.  This investigation will not only use more widely available antibodies, but also a locally developed instrument at the University of Tasmania.
 
We’re delighted to know that this project will deliver multiple benefits!  It will build local research capacity and strengthen research ties between the RHH, UTas and CF Tasmania, while also opening up new opportunities for Tasmanian people with CF to participate and benefit from local research. It is also anticipated that local expertise in this analysis will increase the likely success of future collaborative research applications with other institutions across Australia, advancing CF research and its impact even further.

Paula Wreidt, Executive Officer of Cystic Fibrosis Tasmania says that she is “Thrilled with the developments that have been able to progress through the partnership with the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation that would have otherwise not have eventuated, and looks forward to the next phases of this crucial study for Tasmanians living with CF.”

You can help us continue to fund world-class health and medical research right here in Tasmania by making a donation today.

Tassie’s own Prof Peter Dargaville has been bestowed with a prestigious honour today as the outcomes from his clinical trial gained coverage in the internationally acclaimed Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

After its genesis at the Royal Hobart Hospital just over ten years ago, the global study has proven that The Hobart Method is a better approach to supporting the breathing patterns of premature babies.  It has already been clinically proven as a life-saver and a game-changer.

After receiving initial funding from the Foundation in 2012 and further local investment during its formative stages, evidence gathered through these early phases of the investigation attracted attention from the National Health and Medical Research Council.  This enabled Prof Dargaville and his team to gain a significant injection of funds - the trigger required to roll this out as a clinical trial across the globe.

Over recent years, the study has engaged the families of 485 premmie babies in the first hours of life across thirty-three neonatal intensive care units in eleven countries. Although only a small proportion of babies are born at less than 30 weeks’ gestation, these tiny ones are at high risk of breathing difficulty given their lungs haven’t yet developed. The Hobart Method uses a far less invasive approach to delivering a substance called surfactant through a tiny narrow tube gently placed into the infant’s windpipe, helping to disperse this deeply into the lungs and aiding the vital process of breathing.

The study, led by local neonatologist Prof Dargaville and his team, aimed to improve upon the current standard of care, seeking to limit the development of chronic lung disease that can have lasting effects on the lives of preterm babies.

The study engaged skilled team members from the areas of engineering and computer science, together with clinicians and pharmacists, combining their expertise to deliver a unique and cutting edge technologically driven approach that makes such a powerful impact on families worldwide.

Prof Dargaville said that it was a great privilege and very exciting to see that what began as an idea in clinical practice at the RHH has now become an accepted therapy of proven benefit for babies worldwide.

“The findings of the study have absolutely cemented the idea that using a minimally invasive technique to give surfactant can give these babies an important advantage in those critical early stages of life.”

Can this healthier start to life can have a lasting impact?  The answer is now being examined in an innovative follow up study in which parents of infants involved in the trial will now go on to detail their child’s health and wellbeing in the first two years after birth.

“Our results suggest that the use of The Hobart Method from day one will translate into a healthier start to life for premature infants around the world,” Prof. Dargaville concluded.

The results of this trial are currently being presented at neonatal conferences world-wide, and The Hobart Method has already rapidly gained traction in many neonatal intensive care units around the world.

We are incredibly proud of the contribution that the Foundation has made to this Tasmanian-based study and look forward to working closely with Prof Dargaville as his study progresses.

Local medical research saves lives, and thanks to the support of our local Tasmanian community we have been able to see an outstanding and life-saving idea exported and adopted globally for the benefit of generations to come.

You can support game changing research like the Hobart Method by making an online donation today. Thanks for supporting local medical research!

Are you, or someone you know affected by a rare disease? Tasmanian families who have had personal experience of conditions such as these often feel isolated and alone.  We know this local research project is vitally important to supporting the health and wellbeing of so many across our community, young and old, now and into the future.

Generously funded by a Tasmanian family, this study sees a skilled local team working closely with the newly established Tasmanian Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases Network (TRUDN). A key aim of the investigation is to build an initial profile of the number and impact of these conditions in our local community. Led by local researcher Dr Mathew Wallis, who is also Clinical Director of the Tasmanian Clinical Genetics Service, an important preliminary focus for the team will lie in simply uncovering the prevalence and diversity of rare disease in Tasmania. With better understanding, we can better support these families.

What is TRUDN?

TRUDN is a group of health professionals, researchers and consumers that aim to improve awareness, diagnosis and treatment of Rare Diseases in Tasmania. The TRUDN vision is to lead the delivery of equitable healthcare to Tasmanians living with Rare Diseases, along with driving new innovation and contributing to local, national and international projects in Rare Diseases.

Relevance to Tasmanians

This study is so important because the collective impact of rare diseases in Tasmania is, at this point, unknown!  Rare diseases are generally complex, serious and progressive conditions that begin to show early signs in childhood. These conditions often impact on several of the body’s core systems, in many instances there are multiple and ongoing health and psychosocial issues. Naturally these require continuing support through coordination of complex care.

One of the greatest challenges in understanding the impact of rare diseases is the limited data available - this is where the team’s study comes in! Rare disease data needs to be measured and tracked effectively to understand current Tasmanian needs while also better preparing for the future. In Tasmania, as in many other Australian states, there is a significant lack of evidence and public health data around the impact upon the patients’ families and the wider community.

What we need to know!

An undiagnosed disease often presents a complex challenge. Most undiagnosed diseases are rare, but there is a spectrum of rare disease types. Around 80% of these are genetic. While rare diseases are defined as a condition affecting less than one person per 2,000, because there are over 7,000 rare diseases, they collectively affect approximately 6-8% of the Australian population – that’s a significant number. We currently have no idea which of the 7,000 known rare diseases are prevalent in Tasmania and so Dr Wallis and his team are on a quest to find out!

What’s next?

This important project is part of a broader plan to identify, and later address, the needs that arise from rare diseases in Tasmania. These could include access to care, accurate and timely diagnosis (including screening for early detection), access to therapies, clear care pathways and provision of support beyond the health domain. As this study will also contribute to uncovering otherwise missed opportunities for earlier intervention, identifying and addressing these needs in Tasmania is critically important. For many families, this is a long-awaited study that will form the foundation to so much more vital medical research.

The Royal Hobart hospital Research Foundation’s purpose is to pursue better health for Tasmanians through research, but we can’t do this without your help.

You can make a donation online today or call our friendly team to make a donation via the phone on (03) 6166 1319. Thank you for supporting local medical research.

Dr Dean Picone will be a familiar name to many of you. That's because the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation has funded several of Dean's studies over the years and we have been privileged to profile his research previously on several occasions, including at various events.

We’re excited about the research he and his team are doing to develop more effective methods of monitoring blood pressure. Why? Because this research is vitally important to all Tasmanians, now and into the future.

Dr Dean Picone is a local Tasmanian researcher within the Menzies Institute’s Blood Pressure Research Group. He has an interest in ensuring blood pressure is measured accurately and has a good reason for this specific research.

While the statistics are startling, fortunately, if high blood pressure is correctly diagnosed and treated, the risk of heart disease and stroke is markedly reduced.

However, to ensure a timely and correct diagnosis can first be made, blood pressure must be measured accurately. This is easier said than done, and that’s where this research comes in.

For more than 10 years, the Blood Pressure Research Group of the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, led by Professor James Sharman, has been working in close collaboration with the Royal Hobart Hospital Cardiology Department.

“We are extremely grateful to the RHH Cardiology Department. The partnership is unique and attracts the envy of other blood pressure researchers from around the world,” said Dr Picone.

“Considerable investments in funding achieved through several bodies, including the Foundation, have generously supported this research program through a range of grants over many years.”

Over this time, the team has generated significant new knowledge related to the accuracy of blood pressure measurement. They have identified that standard blood pressure measurement using an inflatable cuff is actually more inaccurate in people at higher risk of cardiovascular disease – the very people who need an accurate diagnosis.

The team has now identified specific factors that are related to the inaccuracy of blood pressure measurement. This means they are now in a position to begin solving such a longstanding problem. This is great news!

“One of the most critical factors is the shape of the blood pressure ‘waves’ that are transmitted through the body every time the heart beats. The team will analyse this previously unutilised information to begin improving the way blood pressure is measured,” said Dr Picone.

“The aim of the current project is to apply machine learning techniques to the vast quantities of information derived from blood pressure waves and create a more accurate, individualised method of blood pressure measurement,” he said.

To achieve their important research objectives, the team recently collaborated with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute’s Computational Biology and Clinical Informatics laboratory. It was this multi-disciplinary partnership that helped lead to the development of an application for the 2021–2023 Foundation's Major Project Grant.

Facing an intense degree of competitive pressure for this $450k grant, the team are excited about what their success in achieving this means to driving their research program further.

The ultimate aim of the research Dr Picone and his team are undertaking is to improve the accuracy of blood pressure measurement, thereby helping reduce preventable cardiovascular diseases in Tasmania, and eventually globally – an aspiration which has the potential to impact millions of lives.

“I would like to thank the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation and its generous supporters for funding this project and all the other important medical research happening in Tasmania,” Dr Picone said.

You can help fund incredible research like Dr Picone's by simply by making an online donation today. Thank you for supporting the health and wellbeing of the Tasmanian community.

Dean Picone with the blood pressure cuff.

Chances are everyone knows someone working in the building industry - maybe you work, or have worked, in the industry yourself? Given the number of people this sector employs, construction has become the third largest industry in Australia and 2021 has seen Tasmania’s building and construction industry continue to boom even further.

A vital Tasmanian study, funded by the RHH Research Foundation in 2021, particularly hits home when knowing it could be you, your family or your friends that could be impacted by a shocking disease that can occur from just “going to work”.

Well-known local researcher, Prof Graeme Zosky, is leading this important Project Grant study, together with RHH respiratory medicine specialist Dr Nick Harkness. Prof Zosky is Deputy Director at the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research and also a Professor of Physiology at the School of Medicine. As a respiratory physiologist, his research looks at ways to better understand how our lungs function.

This is an essential and urgently-needed study that takes insight from Prof Zosky’s deep expertise in this area. We’ve discovered it is as compelling to our supporters as it is to the research team and those in the community that it stands to benefit. It has been generously supported by Blundstone Australia who knows that this local research will not only make a difference to so many Tasmanians, its impact will be felt by many in this industry, right across our country.

Relevance to Tasmanians

We know that exposure to dust from cutting artificial stone for benchtops used in kitchens throughout Tasmania is causing accelerated silicosis in more than 20% of workers. The aim of this project is to find new ways to prevent and treat this incurable, and often fatal, disease that is impacting Tasmanians at an accelerated pace. While we currently lack data specific to Tasmania, national studies suggest that 20-30% of workers involved in dry-cutting engineered stone have signs of silicosis.

What do we know?

Inhalation of dust from artificial stone benchtops, now almost universal in new kitchens, can cause silicosis – an incurable, debilitating lung disease that many of us would already have heard of in relation to working with asbestos. But unfortunately, this version of silicosis is more severe and progresses more rapidly compared to traditional forms of dust-induced lung disease which generally develop more slowly over a period of 20-30 years. Most workers with advanced silicosis created through exposure to artificial stone benchtop dust are typically young and have only been exposed to dust for 5-10 years.

What’s next?

The aim of this project is to identify the components of artificial stone that produce the most hazardous dust so that advances

can be made in regulating the industry and reducing the risk to workers. Importantly, this local team also aims to identify what happens in the lung when this dust is inhaled with the goal of identifying potential future treatments. Prof Zosky said he and his team are driven every day by the opportunity to conduct high quality research that is important to Tasmanians. We are proud to support their pursuits, we hope you will be too.

The Foundation’s purpose is to pursue better health for Tasmanians through research, but we can’t do this without your help.

Please consider if you can make a donation that will support not only Prof Graeme Zosky and his team, but so many other passionate researchers on their quest for better community health outcomes – it means so much to all of us.

Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation funded researcher Professor Graeme Zosky

So, let’s start with why that much-needed sleep may become so hard to find. Well, it might all be ‘in the bones'!

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common, painful and disabling condition. That’s confronting news as almost 50% of Australians develop OA - in fact, the prevalence of OA in Tasmania is even higher.  And as those who experience chronic conditions like OA know only too well, sleep disturbance as a result of pain can make an increasingly negative impact on quality of life.

Local researcher Dr Feng Pan is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Tasmania where much of his work is focused on identifying key risk factors for chronic pain and osteoarthritis (OA), identifying the observable characteristics of pain and OA and also testing new therapeutic treatments. Generously funded by a local donor, this vital research will make a difference to so many Tasmanians.

Relevance to Tasmanians

Despite such a high prevalence of OA in our community, there are currently no effective disease modifying drugs. Not only that, but existing therapeutic drugs have also limited success and carry a substantial risk of undesirable side effects. While joint replacement can be highly effective for pain relief, a substantial proportion of patients are unsatisfied or continue to experience persistent pain even after total hip or knee replacement.

Many Tasmanians experience a lengthy wait time for joint replacement surgery, and this also results in a decline in patients’ quality of life and physical function, not to mention an increase in joint-related pain. The information uncovered from this local study will undoubtably have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of many Tasmanians.

What do we know?

OA pain in particular is a complex phenomenon, with pain presentations varying among patients. Unsurprisingly there have been disappointing results from current “one-size fits all” treatment approaches in OA pain patients. This new study is built on recent local findings which confirm that patients benefit from more personalised therapeutic approaches. Although we know sleep problems are very common amongst those with OA pain, the true nature of sleep/OA pain relationships, as well as underlying inflammatory responses, are not yet clearly understood.

What’s next?

The aim of this study is to uncover the directionality of the sleep-pain trajectory and its underlying inflammation mechanism.  As you would anticipate, this investigation has important clinical implications for developing more personalised management strategies for OA pain patients with sleep problems. This local study has great potential to significantly improve OA patients’ quality of life while also delivering substantial relief in saved healthcare costs for families and Tasmanian communities as a result.  We all know how much better a decent night’s sleep can make us feel!!

The Foundation’s purpose is to pursue better health for Tasmanians through research, but we can’t do this without your help.

This June please consider providing a gift that will support not only Dr Pan and his team members - Professor Graeme Jones and Dr Hilton Francis, but so many other passionate researchers on their quest for better community health outcomes – it means so much to all of us.

You can help members of our Tasmanian community by choosing to make an online gift to the Foundation today. Every donation over $2 is tax deductible.

You may have spotted local researcher Dr Dino Premilovac in some of our communications over the last few years, often sporting a white coat talking all things “brain research”, but at times more casually attired, introducing us to his young family with whom he loves to spend time bushwalking and camping around Tasmania.

However, spare time is rare in the life of a researcher and there has been plenty of vital work going on behind the scenes in local labs that will have significant impact for years to come. In fact, two of Dino’s recent Foundation funded research grants have now concluded and the outcomes will see positive change for the Tasmanian community and those further afield.

As a researcher Dr Premilovac tells us that being able to complete a project that will have vital impact is hard to describe.

“It’s hard to convey the exact feeling you get when completing a funded project, but it involves a mix of satisfaction, pride, excitement and relief! It’s fantastic to see the ideas that we work on for a long time produce really promising data, such as in the much-needed area of brain research.”

Dino’s message is simple. He emphasises why community support and funding are so important. Without support from the Foundation and sponsors like Blundstone, who generously funded one of Dino’s recent studies, these exciting research opportunities simply could not have gone ahead.

“I don’t know if it's common knowledge, but medical research is very expensive and science in general in Australia is severely underfunded. Having a local funding body like the Foundation, one that provides opportunities for research grants with impact in Tasmania, is really important.

“This means that medical research can take place in Tasmania and produce benefits not only for Tasmanians, but for the rest of Australia as well. Being able run research projects means we can train honours and PhD students in our teams. This means that local research funding enables us to recruit and train a new generation of medical researchers right here in Tasmania,” he said.

Dino explains that he feels driven every day to find out more as a researcher and confesses that he feels lucky that he gets to learn more about how our bodies work while also having the opportunity to research ways to treat the many diseases and conditions that are all too common in our community.

“I really enjoy learning more about how our bodies work. In particular, I am driven to understand how the smallest blood vessels in our bodies, the capillaries, work to supply each of the cells in our body with glucose and oxygen. This is an exciting area to be involved with because problems with capillary blood flow underpin almost all diseases that affect us, including stroke, heart disease, cancer and even obesity and type 2 diabetes. If we can better understand how capillaries work, we might be able to develop new drugs to treat these diseases,” he said.

Dino said despite the wealth of information gained in the last 10-20 years scientists are still at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding how the brain works and how to fix brain disorders. The two Incubator Grants (2019 and 2020) that Dr Premilovac and his team have finalised are related to stroke and getting drugs to the brain when diseases are present.

“Stroke is one of the biggest killers of people in Tasmania and around the world. The only treatment we have for people that have a stroke is to remove the blood clot to restore blood flow to the brain. There is currently very little we can do to improve recovery from stroke. In our first study, we were able to show that a drug called Idebenone protects the brain from further damage after a stroke. This is really promising data, but we still need to do more investigation with this drug to understand exactly how it works to do this and what the potential side-effects of Idebenone might be.

 “A major issue with the drugs we give to people to treat brain diseases like stroke is the off target effects the drugs have on other parts of the body. Thanks to funding from the Foundation, we have developed a new way of concentrating drug delivery to the brain using ultrasound. This technology is completely safe to use in people and allows us to increase drug delivery to the brain while reducing the off-target effects on other organs. Our next challenge is to see if we can apply this new technology to improve drug delivery in the context of brain disorders such as brain cancer and stroke so that ultimately, we can improve health outcomes,” he said.

While the Foundation commends Dino and his team for such outstanding work, we know that this wouldn’t be possible without the support of our donors and corporate partners. Thank you!

You can support ground breaking research like Dino's by making an online donation today, or calling one of our friendly team members on (03) 6166 1319.

Cardio-Vascular Disease (CVD) causes more Tasmanian deaths than any other condition. It is linked to over 3,000 Tasmanian deaths each year and is a major burden to Tasmanians and our community. This impacts on quality of life, but also through high use of health services, particularly at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH), where the statewide services of cardiac surgery, vascular surgery and stroke services are based.

Led by Professor Matthew Jose, a state-wide research team made up of clinicians from general practice, together with those involved in public health, kidney disease, diabetes, cholesterol and heart disease was funded to undertake vital Tasmanian focused research in late 2019 and early 2020. We are pleased to report that this study has uncovered some very important information that will help ongoing medical research for years to come. You may remember the roll-out of media coverage around our community health campaign focusing on vascular disease that saw the community dig deep to ensure this $25k study could be funded. We featured the story of local Tasmanian, Scott Salter, who suffered two heart attacks before undergoing triple bypass surgery at the RHH at Christmas time 2018. Scott is 58 and knows first-hand how close he was to having this disease devastate his life. His message was clear, “don’t leave it too late to get checked”.

Greater awareness and support is critical for people with high cholesterol. We need to identify and fully treat these people to try and prevent future heart attacks, strokes or death from Cardio-vascular Disease.

The study titled “A comprehensive examination of potentially modifiable vascular disease risk factors and their consequences in Tasmania” saw a local research team from across the state dive into data to analyse which Tasmanian communities have high levels or risk factors for vascular disease (kidney disease, cholesterol, or diabetes). Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation CEO, Heather Francis, said this clinical research project and many others will have lasting impact for generations of Tasmanians to come.

“There is so much to be done to improve the health status of Tasmanians. Funding these important research programs is only possible through the assistance of our community. Generous support will help us work toward this goal, but it is important to know that the impact of this study has already been particularly vital,” she said. With the help of Sonic Laboratories (Hobart Pathology, Launceston Pathology and North-West Pathology) plus Pathology South, the team examined 398,649 unidentified Tasmanians who had their lipids, glucose or creatinine measured between 2004 – 2017. The team then reported these by age, gender, geographic region (South, North or North-west Tasmania as well as smaller local communities). We think you’ll join us in being excited about another example of cutting-edge research happening right here at our doorstep with involvement of many locals, all aimed to benefit Tasmanians in years to come.

You can help support projects like this one and many more by making an online donation today. Thank you for continuing to support groundbreaking Tasmanian medical research.

Across the world, there is an alarming increase in mental health presentations to Emergency Departments (ED) by children and adolescents. Currently, very little is known about why this is happening, which is why research is vital, now and into the future.

For young Tasmanians experiencing mental health challenges, the Royal Hobart Hospital’s ED can be an initial or recurrent point of contact which provides an opportunity to address acute risk and provide early intervention. It also provides scope for much-needed local research.

We already know that optimum care for this vulnerable population requires sensitive consideration and a collaborative approach which is truly centred on these young people and their families.  As with any large system, gaps can sometimes appear in complex care. A current research project aims to close those gaps with new approaches to care based on local research.

The 2020 Project Grant “The Kids are Not Okay – Understanding child and adolescent mental health presentations to the Emergency Department” has been generously supported through the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation by a local Tasmanian family with teenagers. They understand the impact of mental health challenges and the need for coordinated support that spans community and hospital care. Importantly, the family also recognise the need for research to guide how this should be enhanced in our local community, with learnings to then be used far and wide to improve lives of families locally, nationally and internationally.

This funding will enable a local research team made up of doctors from the RHH including Dr Viet Tran, an Emergency Physician, and Dr Nicholas Watkins, an Emergency Physician and Paediatrician, who will collaborate with an internationally renowned emergency paediatric researcher, Professor Simon Craig.

Relevance to Tasmanians

Tasmania is not immune to this increasing trend of mental health presentations to ED by children and adolescents. Our mental health service is unique and in tailoring care to young people’s varying needs, it is important to understand how hospital and community-based care can best be coordinated to support these vulnerable patients. Through carriage of this research, funded by the Foundation, our local patients, families, and clinicians will also have the opportunity to become part of a national study which will set the priorities for further research and health care investment at an even broader scale.

Why we need your help?

Understanding more about young people’s mental health presentations to ED, gaining insight into current care and how this matches against their needs will help build a new model of care for this vulnerable population, aiming to ensure a higher standard of care that arguably all Tasmanians deserve to enjoy.

Please consider providing a gift this June that will support local researchers on their quest for better community health outcomes now and into the future – it means so much to all of us and will help shape our children’s future.

For support and advice | www.beyondblue.org.au | 1300 22 4636

All donations over $2 are tax deductible. You can donate to support more research like this here.

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