2020 Research Grants

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Each year the RHH Research Foundation selects broad research priorities which will serve as the guiding areas for focus for consideration of its grants investments. This year, applications for all grants will be reviewed to determine their alignment with/capacity to address the following strategic priorities:

  • Aged care (including diseases of the elderly);
  • Chronic disease (including cancer);
  • Health Service Delivery and Outcomes (including acute care);
  • A healthy start to life (including maternal and child health); and
  • Social determinants of health (including mental heath).

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Below is a list of our 2020 Research Grant recipients:

Incubator Grants for 2020

Project Team: Assoc Prof Fay Johnston, Dr Nick Harkness, Prof Haydn Walters, Dr Barbara de Graaff, Prof Andrew Palmer, Dr Ingrid Cox and Mr Nicolas Borchers.

Association between bushfire-smoke/woodfire-smoke and hospital usage in Tasmania.

(Generously funded by Blundstone Australia Pty Ltd)

Poor air quality (indoor and outdoor) has been shown to increase respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity in populations and as a result increase use of health services and resources.  This study will evaluate the association between bushfire-smoke/woodfire-smoke and hospital use in Tasmania.

Project Team: Dr Katherine Lawler, Ms Rowan Castle, Mr Sam de Zoete, Ms Michelle Lewis, Dr Helen Courtney-Pratt and Assoc. Prof Michele Callisaya.

Understanding the experiences of people with dementia participating in inpatient rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation for people living with dementia is emerging as an intervention that enables people to remain at home for longer, where previously it was thought futile.  This study will inform current practice by exploring the experience of people with dementia in rehabilitation to distil key elements of success and challenge.

Project Team: Dr Louise Roddam, Dr Mark Ambrose, Dr Joanne Pagnon, Ms Belinda McEwan and Dr Sean Beggs.

Characterisation of newly identified Pandoraea isolates from paediatric Tasmanian CF patients.

(Generously funded by an anonymous donor)

Pandoraea, an emerging bacterial pathogen, is highly antibiotic resistant and was first isolated from a Tasmanian CF patient in 2012, then again in 2018 from two Tasmanian paediatric patients.  The project team will characterise these new isolates (determine species, antibiotic resistance profiles and virulence potential) to advance our understanding of the pathogen.

Project Team: Dr Mathew Wallis, Prof Matthew Jose, Dr Jo Burke, Dr Lisa Jeffs, Prof Jo Dickinson, Prof Kathryn Burdon and Ms Julia Mansour.

Improving diagnosis and management of kidney disease through a Renal Genetics Service.

(Generously funded by Blundstone Australia Pty Ltd)

This project aims to collect data to determine the extent to which Genetic Renal Disease (GRD) may contribute to Chronic Kidney Disease and End Stage Kidney Disease in Tasmania, with a view to improving service delivery through a multidisciplinary clinic and generating a critical dataset to inform future research priorities.

Project Team: Dr Dino Premilovac, Prof David Howells, Dr Brad Sutherland and Dr Helen Castley.

Toward targeted drug delivery in the brain using ultrasound.

(Generously funded by an anonymous donor)

This project will establish a new way of delivering drugs to specific regions of the body (e.g. the brain during stroke) using our newly developed ultrasound technology.

Project Team: Dr Nibu Parameswaran Nair, Prof Luke Bereznicki, Dr Blair Adamczewski, Dr Mohammed S Salahudeen and Dr Bonnie Berezncki.

Adverse drug reaction-related hospital admission in elderly Australians with dementia.

Recent findings from Tasmania show that dementia is a significant risk factor for serious side effects of medicines or adverse drug reactions (ADRs).  This study at the Royal Hobart Hospital will investigate the nature, risk factors, preventability and management of ADR-related hospital admissions in elderly patients with dementia.

Project Grants for 2020

Project Team: Prof Matthew Jose, Prof John Burgess, Dr Louise Prentice, Dr Laura Turner, Dr Ellie Cash, Assoc Prof Kate MacIntyre and Assoc Prof Jan Radford.

A comprehensive examination of potentially modifiable vascular disease risk factors and their consequences in Tasmania.

Vascular disease devastates the lives of many Tasmanians. Using a state-wide, data-linkage approach, the research team will report the age, gender and geographic distribution of risk factors for vascular disease (including diabetes, high cholesterol, vitamin D deficiency and kidney disease), then link these risk factors link to illness and death of Tasmanians.

Project Team: Assoc Prof Nenagh Kemp, Dr Kimberley Norris, Dr Sari O’Meagher, Dr Antonio De Paoli and Prof Peter Anderson.

Psychological outcomes of preterm children in Tasmania (POPIT) project.

The project aims to a) begin a research-oriented database of children born preterm and matched peers born at term, and b) assess, at 4 years, which combination of psychologist-delivered, fact-to-face tasks of intelligence and executive functions best predicts adults’ ratings of these children’s functioning and behaviour, at home and beyond.

Project Team: Prof Peter Dargaville and Dr Tim Gale.

Prediction of apnoea in preterm infants.

The research team will assemble a unique compendium of physiological recordings in preterm infants <30 weeks gestation, and apply sophisticated machine-learning techniques to the physiological data to develop a predictive tool for identification of a pre-apnoeic state in real-time.

(Generously funded by the Bateman Bequest)

Project Team: Dr Bennet McComish, Prof Kathryn Burdon and Prof Nitin Verma.

Understanding individual differences in response to treatment for diabetic eye disease.

This project aims to identify risk factors that predict response to intraocular injections for the treatment of diabetic eye disease. This treatment is ineffective in many patients, expensive, and invasive.  By determining who will benefit, the research team hopes to be able to choose the most appropriate treatment for each patient.

Project Team: Dr Viet Tran, Dr Nicholas Watkins and Prof Simon Craig.

‘The Kids are Not Okay’ – Understanding child and adolescent mental health presentations to the emergency department.

There has been an alarming recent increase in emergency department (ED) mental health presentations (self-harm, depression, and behavioural disorders) by children and adolescents.  This research will help us understand why these high-risk vulnerable patients attend the ED, how they are treated, and their outcomes after discharge.

(Generously funded by an anonymous donor)

Project Team: Dr Barbara de Graaff, Dr Kwang Chien Yee, Dr Mark Wilson, Dr Roland W McCallum, Ms Stella Lartey, Dr Julie Campbell and Prof Andrew Palmer.

NAFLD – screen (Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:  prevalence and screening for type 2 diabetes patients).

This study will assess the prevalence of non-alcohol fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in patients with type 2 diabetes and normal liver function tests attending the Royal Hobart Hospital Diabetes Outpatient Clinic.  The research team will assess the most cost-effective strategy for targeted screening for this patient group.

Project Team: Prof Jo Dickinson, Assoc Prof Adele Holloway, Dr Louise Nott, Dr G (Rick) Liu, Dr Liesel Fitzgerald, Dr Kate Brettingham-Moore, Prof Alex Hewitt and Dr Phillippa Taberlay.

Gaining new insights into metastatic bone tumours.

Once cancers have spread, they become difficult to treat and increasingly resistant to therapy.  Consequently, survival rates plummet, particularly for those with bone metastases.  Using two cutting-edge technologies the research team will identify ‘key drivers of survival’ in metastatic tumour cells in bone; and determine their value as prognostic/therapeutic targets.

Project Team: Dr Liesel Fitzgerald, Prof Jo Dickinson, Dr Michael Jones, Dr Shaun Donovan, Dr Vince Murdolo and Dr Frank Redwig.

A Clinical and Biospecimens Prostate Cancer Resource for Biomarker Research in Tasmania.

The research team proposes to continue growing their clinical and biospecimens prostate cancer resource. This project aims to collect biological samples from Tasmanian men participating in the Prostate Cancer Outcomes Registry, Tasmania. This valuable clinical and genomic resource will allow important biomarker research into predicting prostate cancer outcomes and improving treatment strategies.

(Generously funded by Patricia Pitman)

Major Project Grant for 2020 - 2022

Project Team: Dr Jessica Collins, Prof James Vickers, Assoc Prof Anna King, Dr David Cooper and  Dr Jane Alty.

Blood-based biomarkers for neurodegeneration dementia.

Blood-based biomarkers of brain damage may revolutionalise the detection and diagnosis of nervous system injury and degeneration, and assist monitoring effectiveness of therapeutic approaches. This project examines the clinical potential of new biomarker technology on the detection and diagnosis of dementia and brain damage following intensive care unit admission.

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