2022 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 2022 Research Grant recipients:

New Incubator Grants for 2022

A blood test to detect microvascular injury and predict potential for recovery following stroke

Project Team: Dr Gary Morris (CIA), Associate Professor Brad Sutherland, Professor David Howells, Professor Anna King, Dr Helen Castley, Dr Jo-Maree Courtney, Dr Jessica Collins.  

Pericytes, cells controlling blood flow in the brain, are injured post-stroke. This may increase brain injury and worsen neurological disability. This project will develop a blood test for detecting pericyte injury. This test may be useful for diagnosing blood flow impairments or predicting brain injury and neurological disability post-stroke.

Intervention to lessen anticholinergic drug burden in hospitalised older adults

Project Team: Dr Mohammed Salahudeen (CIA), Professor Gregory Peterson, Dr Blair Adamczewski, Dr Daniel Hoyle, Mr Duncan McKenzie, Dr Woldesellassie Bezabhe.

There is substantial evidence that medicines with anticholinergic properties, especially when used in combination, carry significant risks in older people, including increased hospital admissions and greater incidence of falls, dementia, and death. This study will design, implement, and evaluate an intervention to lessen the use of anticholinergic-type drugs.

Seeking inputs for a mathematical model to optimise patient flow

Project Team: Dr Pieter Van Dam (CIA), Professor Richard Turner, Associate Professor Malgorzata O’Reilly.

Poor patient flow directly contributes to Emergency Department crowding, bed access-block, and increased length of stay, all of which pose substantial risks to patient safety. The aim of this project is to gain insights about factors that influence patient flow and use them to build models for optimising patient flow.

Opioid prescribing from the Royal Hobart Hospital Emergency Department

Project Team: Mr Giles Barrington (CIA), Dr Viet Tran, Brodie Anne Hose, Dr Katherine Davis.

A large proportion of harm can be attributed to the inappropriate prescribing of opiates in Australia and Internationally. This project aims to identify the opiate discharge prescription patterns by emergency clinicians at the Royal Hobart Hospital ED and understand if modification to the electronic prescribing platform reduces this. 

(Generously funded by the Johns Group)

Special delivery to the brain: Using cutting-edge ultrasound to increase drug delivery to reduce brain damage after a stroke

Project Team: Dr Dino Premilovac (CIA), Associate Professor Brad Sutherland, Professor David Howells, Dr Helen Castley, Associate Professor Nuri Gueven.

Recently, there has been the discovery of a drug called idebenone. It reduces the extent of brain damage after a stroke. This project aims to harness non-invasive ultrasound to concentrate the delivery of idebenone to the brain regions that need it to further reduce damage after stroke.

(Generously funded by an anonymous donor)

Validation of an antibody panel to identify multiple immune cell subsets in a single low-volume CF blood sample

Project Team: Dr Louise Roddam (CIA), Dr Nicole Saxby, Dr Emily Mulcahy, Associate Professor Sean Beggs, Dr Joanne Pagnon, Ms Simone Page

Dr Roddam and her team have previously designed and validated a specialised antibody panel to identify eight distinct immune cell populations within one tube, from a small amount of blood. They propose to validate a similar panel using commercially available antibodies, to enable the team to significantly contribute to collaborative cystic fibrosis research.

(Funded in partnership with Cystic Fibrosis Tasmania)

Development of a non-invasive blood sampling technique to assess paracetamol toxicity severity and response to its treatment

Project Team: Dr Felicity Veal (CIA), Dr Rahul Patel, Dr David Nichols, Associate Professor Glenn Jacobson, Dr Simon Handley, Dr Viet Tran, Dr Troy Wanandy, Mr Anindya Garg.

This project involves development of a simple, minimally invasive Volumetric Absorptive Microsampling (VAMS) analysis of paracetamol and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels to provide easier and safer management of patients with paracetamol toxicity due to overdose.

The health economic impacts of residential fires on the Tasmanian public healthcare system 2010 to 2020 using a mixed-methods approach

Project Team: Ms Ngan Dinh (CIA), Dr Julie Campbell, Professor Andrew Palmer, Rebecca Schrale, Kevin Ratcliffe, Fiona Orr, Lesley King, Sandra Barber, Dr Barbara de Graaff.

Residential fires remain a significant global public health, economic and policy problem. The resource utilisation and cost patterns of residential fires are not well reported worldwide including in Australia. This study aims to quantify the scale, profile, and determinants of healthcare costs and utilisation associated with residential fires in Tasmania.

(Generously funded by RACT Insurance)

New Project Grants for 2022

Lung cancer screening in Tasmania

Project Team: Professor Andrew Palmer (CIA), Dr Nick Harkness, Dr Barbara de Graaff, Professor Haydn Walters and Ingrid Cox.

This project will evaluate risk models for identification of high-risk candidates for lung cancer screening and assess whether a screening programme can be effectively and economically implemented. This will lead to earlier identification and treatment, with higher survival rates for Tasmanians, with potential for cost savings.

Implementation and evaluation of the Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic (RACPC): a process evaluation

Project Team: Dr Niamh Chapman (CIA), Dr Andrew Black, Professor James Sharman, Dr Daniel Gavaghan.

Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinics (RACPCs) are more efficient than usual care and improve outcomes for patients with chest pain. A pilot RACPC at the Royal Hobart Hospital has shown promising results, this project will identify how telemedicine could be used to optimally deliver the RACPC to improve patient care.

(Generously funded by Mrs P Pitman)

Providing high-value care for osteoarthritis patients at the Royal Hobart Hospital

Project Team: Associate Professor Dawn Aitken, Dr Katherine Lawler, Mr Paul Harvie, Lisa O’Brien, Associate Professor Christian Barton, Paula Hyland, Dr Barbara de Graaff, Dr Pieter Van Dam, Professor Gregory Peterson, Dr Natalie Collins, Professor Graeme Jones.

GLA:D is an international evidence-based education and exercise program for people with osteoarthritis. This project will evaluate the implementation of GLA:D through the RHH physiotherapy community outpatient clinics for patients on a joint replacement surgery pathway. It will benefit patients and potentially reduce pressure on elective surgery waiting lists.

Identifying older adults in Tasmania with REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder (RBD): the first step towards reducing their high risk of neurodegeneration

Project Team: Ms Samantha Bramich (CIA), Dr Jane Alty, Professor Anna King, Dr Anju Bhagwat, Maneesh Kuruvilla.

Adults with RBD have a 90% chance of developing dementia or other neurodegenerative disease (ND) within 10 years. However, RBD is under-recognised. This project will identify RBD prevalence in Tasmania, characterise its associated features, and offer risk reduction strategies with the long-term aim of decreasing the incidence of ND.

Elder Trauma Under Triage Study (ETUTS)

Project Team: Dr Adam Mahoney (CIA), Dr Jennifer Jamieson, Dr Michelle Bowen, Dr Viet Tran, Ms Clare Collins, Ms Jennifer Hawkins, Giles Barrington, Dr Anand Kumar.

ETUTS will evaluate the impact of an Elder Trauma Screening Tool on rates of under-triage for elder tauma patients in Tasmania. ETUTs will also scrutinise the contemporary injury journeys of elder trauma patients, including emergency department and hospital length of stay, patterns of investigation and management, and the frequency of complications.

Assessing the clinical value of exercise stress echocardiography: an EXERcise stress Test collaboratION (EXERTION) study

Project Team: Dr Martin Schultz (CIA), Professor James Sharman, Associate Professor Philip Roberts-Thomson, Professor Thomas Marwick, Mr Petr Otahal.

Exercise stress echocardiography is commonly used in the screening for coronary artery disease (CAD) but may represent a low-value test. The objective of this project is to determine the clinical value of exercise stress echocardiography by comparison to exercise stress ECG testing in a large representative clinical sample.

(Generously funded by Blundstone Australia Pty Ltd)

Evaluation of StOP - a support program for better awareness and management of stroke risk factors after discharge in Tasmania

Project Team: Dr Helen Castley (CIA), Associate Professor Seana Gall, Mr Eamon O’Toole, Ms Deirdre Broadby, Ms Yichao Alexandra Sun.

This study will use best-practice methods to evaluate Stroke Outreach Program (StOP) - a support program to address unmet needs after stroke, through improving awareness and management of risk factors. This will lay the foundation for the optimisation of StOP to improve stroke outcomes by identifying areas of improvement for the program.

Advancing Precision Medicine for Families with Haematological Malignancy

Project Team: Dr Niles Nelson (CIA), Professor Jo Dickinson, Dr Sionne Lucas, Dr Kirsten Fairfax, Dr Rosemary Harrup

The aim of this project is to identify genes underpinning the development of blood cancers. The research team will recruit Tasmanian families that have three or more close relatives with blood cancer or a related disorder to undergo whole genome sequencing. This project builds on the existing Familial Haematological Malignancy Project.

(Generously funded by the Bateman Bequest)

A CNS Tumour Biobank for Tasmanians

Project Team: Associate Professor Rosemary Harrup (CIA) and Professor Jo Dickinson.

This study will commence a biobank of primary CNS tumour samples to provide a resource for local researchers and facilitate linkages into the national Brain Cancer Biobanking Australia (BCBA) Bank to grow capacity and opportunities for Tasmanian brain cancer researchers and also provide future benefits for Tasmanian brain cancer patients.

(Generously funded by BeGIN the Cure)

Precision Medicine for Men with Prostate Cancer

Project Team: Professor Jo Dickinson (CIA), Dr Jessica Roydhouse, Dr Kelsie Raspin, Dr Liesel FitzGerald, Associate Professor Louise Nott, Associate Professor Rosemary Harrup, Dr Mathew Wallis.

Precision medicine and the burgeoning use of complex genetic data to inform clinical management of cancer is here. As Tasmania embraces this innovation, it is imperative that we seek engagement from the Tasmanian community in the design of our clinical pathways for delivery.

(Generously funded by Mrs P Pitman)

Major Project Grant for 2022 - 2024

Development of a non-invasive screening test to detect risk of Alzheimer's disease pathology

Project Team: Dr Jane Alty (CIA), Associate Professor Lynette Golding, Dr Edward Hill, Dr Katherine Lawler, Dr Anju Bhagwat, Nadeeshani Fernando, Dr Larissa Bartlett, Mr Aidan Bindoff, Associate Professor Quan Bai and Professor James Vickers.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) causes 70% of all dementia. It starts damaging the brain >10 years before memory problems begin. To reduce dementia incidence, we must detect AD earlier. With 200 patients and 10,000 research participants, the team will develop a test that detects early AD through hand movement and speech analysis

The project will have significant societal, health, and economic impacts. Our proposed test will non-invasively detect AD pathology, enabling people with early-stage AD to be proactive before their brain is irreparably damaged - to commence intense risk modification (that can slow/prevent 40% dementia) and to enter drug trials. It will also facilitate earlier diagnosis of dementia, which reduces hospital admissions and costs. Together, this will help stem rising dementia care costs that are already >$15 billion/year in Australia. Using our national and international networks for upscaling, the outcomes of this project will have global impact to transform dementia prevention.

Williams Oncology Research Grant for 2021 - 2023

Utilising large Tasmanian families to determine the impact of rare genetic variation on prostate cancer

Project Team: Dr Liesel FitzGerald, Professor Jo Dickinson, Dr Marketa Skala, Dr Shaun Donovan and Dr Frank Redwig. 

This project aims to identify rare genetic changes that increase the chance of developing prostate cancer. To do this, we will apply cutting-edge technologies to a large Tasmanian familial prostate cancer resource comprising both germline (e.g. blood) and tumour samples. 

(Generously funded by the Williams Bequest)

New Major Project Grant for 2021 - 2023

Accurate blood pressure with machine learning

Project Team: Dr Dean Picone, Professor James Sharman, Dr Azadeh Alavi, Dr Martin Schultz, Dr Andrew Black, Dr Nathan Dwyer, Associate Professor Philip Roberts-Thomson, Dr Heath Adams and Associate Professor David Ascher.

Cuff measured blood pressure (BP) is among the most important tests in clinical medicine. However, cuff BP is not accurate in many people, which can lead to inappropriate diagnosis and care. This research program seeks to develop and validate a more accurate measurement of cuff BP using machine learning technology.

Major Project Grant for 2020 - 2022

Blood-based biomarkers for neurodegeneration dementia

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

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.

Official record of RHH Research Foundation funding; 1998 to date

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