2023 Grant Recipients

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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 2023 Research Grant recipients:

Incubator Grants for 2023

Hospitalisation as an opportunity to optimise anticoagulant treatment in patients with atrial fibrilation

Project Team: Dr Woldesellassie Bezabhe (CIA), Distinguished Professor Greg Peterson, Dr Nathan Dwyer, Professor Jan Radford, Camille Boland and Dr Mohammed Salahudeen.

Our studies indicate that many community-based patients with atrial fibrillation still do not receive the recommended anticoagulant therapy (reduces the risk of stroke by two-thirds). We will examine anticoagulant use in patients with atrial fibrillation upon admission and discharge and determine whether hospitalisation represents an opportunity to improve the care.

Detecting dementia risk by wearing a watch: Evaluation of sleep/wake patterns to identify REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) in Tasmania

(Generously funded by an anonymous donor)

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

Adults with RBD have a 90% chance of developing dementia or another neurodegenerative disease (ND) within 10 years. However, RBD is difficult to detect. This project will evaluate 24-hour actigraphy (activity) watches for detecting probable RBD (pRBD) in Tasmania. Detecting RBD would allow early dementia risk modification.

Motherhood with kidney disease: what’s going to happen to me (and my baby)?

(Generously funded by Mrs Patricia Pitman)

Project Team: Professor Matthew Jose (CIA), Dr Laura Cuthbertson and Associate Professor Shilpa Jesudason.

Achieving motherhood is an important priority for women with kidney disease. Many health professionals do not discuss motherhood due to lack of adequate information. We will use our linked dataset of Tasmanian mothers and babies to report mother and baby outcomes in Tasmanian women with kidney disease.

Understanding Physical Activity after Cancer exercise Therapy (UNPACT)

Project Team: Ms Sajina Mathew (CIA), Leisl Wylie, Trish Filby, Dr Katherine Lawler, Dr Suzanne Waddingham, Associate Professor Rosemary Harrup and Samantha Shelley.

Physical activity (PA) makes life better for people with cancer. The Royal Hobart Hospital offers short-term oncology exercise groups, but we don’t know what happens for individuals when groups finish. This study will inform current practice by seeking insights from group participants about what helps them stay active in the longer-term.

Project Grants for 2023

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

Project Team: Dr Liesel FitzGerald (CIA), Dr Marketa Skala, Professor Jo Dickinson, Dr Shaun Donovan, Dr Helen Harris and Dr Frank Redwig.

This project aims to recruit and 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.

Assay development to improved genetic testing in cataract patients with gap junction variants

Project Team: Dr Johanna Jones (CIA), Professor Kathryn Burdon, Dr Matthew Wallis, Clinical Professor Nitin Verma AM and Clinical Associate Professor Paul McCartney.

Childhood cataracts are often caused by genetic variants in gap junction genes. However, genetic testing can be inconclusive because we don’t know which variants cause disease and which don’t. This project will develop laboratory tests to find out if variants detected in three Tasmanian families with childhood cataract cause their disease.

Understanding how breathing in air pollution leads to metabolic disease

Project Team: Dr Dino Premilovac (CIA), Professor Graeme Zosky, Professor John Burgess and Dr Stephen Richards.

Air pollution is becoming recognised as a major risk factor for development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, particularly in overweight or obese people. Our study aims to understand how exposure to diesel exhaust or wood fire smoke insulin action in the body to cause insulin resistance.

A new integrated model of care across General Medicine and General Surgery for older patients

Project Team: Professor Richard Turner (CIA), Dr Noha Ferrah, Dr Tobias Evans and Dr Sauro Salomoni.

Tasmania has an ageing population and older people undergoing emergency surgery are at high risk of complications and of subsequently needing rehabilitation or nursing home placement. This project will evaluate the impact of a new model of integrated care across General Surgery and General Medicine for older patients at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

Shaking up our approach to detecting dementia: using tremor analysis to develop a new pre-cognitive test of dementia risk

Project Team: Ms Xinyi Wang (CIA), Associate Professor Jane Alty, Dr Rebecca George, Dr Katherine Lawler, Dr Lara Ruthnam, Dr Jessica Collins and Kaylee Rudd.

Slight shaking in older people’s hands has generally been considered part of normal ageing. However, our recent work suggests this ‘late-onset tremor’ indicates increased dementia risk – years before memory decline. We will precisely analyse hand tremors compared to a blood biomarker of neurodegeneration to determine how tremor predicts dementia risk.

Lowenthal-Muller Grant for 2023-2024

The last 1000 days with chronic kidney disease: supporting treatment decision making in Tasmania

Project Team: Professor Matthew Jose (CIA), Dr Kim Jose, Professor Jan Radford, Associate Professor Rajesh Raj, Dr Laura Cuthbertson, Lisa Shelverton and Dr Carolyn Baker.

We have critical new information about the health outcomes and personal burden of different treatment options for Tasmanians with chronic kidney disease. We would like to find out if including this new information into consumer decision & education aids helps decision making by consumers, caregivers and health professionals.

Major Project Grant for 2023-2025

Closing the Health Gap: Precision Care for Men with Prostate Cancer (PC4PC-TAS)

Project Team: Dr Kelsie Raspin (CIA), Professor Jo Dickinson, Dr Jessica Roydhouse, Dr Matthew Wallis, Dr Sionne Lucas, Dr Liesel FitzGerald, Associate Professor Rosemary Harrup, Associate Professor Marketa Skala and Associate Professor Louise Nott.

In Australia, precision medicine is delivering significant improvements in outcomes for several common cancers, yet such innovation for prostate cancer (PrCa) lags significantly behind, particularly in regional areas like Tasmania. This study will undertake the consumer-focused work necessary to design and deliver patient-centred genomic medicine in PrCa.

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