Funding to date

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 and disease of the elderly;
  • Chronic disease;
  • Cancer;
  • A healthy start to life (including maternal and child health); and
  • Social determinants of health.


Below is a list of our 2017 Research Grant recipients.

2017 Starter Grants

Non-conventional antimicrobial testing of emerging pathogens should more accurately predict antibiotic susceptibility for informing patient management
Project Team: Dr Louise Roddam, Assoc Prof Sean Beggs, Dr Mark Ambrose, Dr Roslyn Malley, Ms Emily Mulcahy and Ms Joanne Pagnon.

Pandoraea is an emerging bacterial pathogen of cystic fibrosis. Conventional antibiotic susceptibility testing shows Pandoraea to be multi-drug resistant with limited treatment options. This study will investigate the antibiotic susceptibility of Pandoraea using non-conventional methods to determine if the research team is underestimating treatment options for this chronic infection.

Investigating the anti-inflammatory effect of a non-anticoagulant molecule of heparin following experimental traumatic brain injury
Project Team: Dr Nicole Bye, Prof Bruce Taylor and Dr Rahul Patel.

Heparin attenuates neuroinflammation following traumatic brain injury (TBI); however, anti-coagulative properties make it an unsuitable treatment due to bleeding risk. The research team has shown that heparin-derivative Dp4 retains heparin’s anti-inflammatory, but not anti-coagulative, actions. The research team will administer Dp4 to TBI mice, potentially identifying a novel and valuable therapeutic agent for brain-injured patients.

Does hospital opioid prescribing increase the risk of chronic opioid use?
Project Team: Ms Felicity Veal, Dr Chris Orlikowski, Mr Peter Boyles, Mr Sam Halliday, Assoc Prof Luke Bereznicki, Mr Angus Thompson and Dr Emma Huckerby.

Chronic opioid use for persistent pain is skyrocketing and is associated with substantial patient harm. This study will review what the risk of chronic opioid use is, following a supply of an opioid at discharge from the Royal Hobart Hospital, and make recommendations to improve the way opioids are prescribed.

Tracking the origin and spread of hospital-acquired infections using whole-genome sequencing
Project Team: Dr Ronan O'Toole and Dr Louise Cooley.

Each year in Australia, approximately 200,000 hospital-acquired infections occur, placing pressure on healthcare resources and staff. Here, the research team will harness the power of the latest technologies in whole-genome sequencing to trace the origin of these infections, and identify new ways to prevent their further spread at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

Does vitamin D supplementation have long-term effects on knee osteoarthritis?
Project Team: Dr Benny Eathakkattu Antony, Prof Changhai Ding, Prof John Burgess and Dr Zhaohua Zhu.

This 5-year follow-up study will assess vitamin D status and inflammatory marker of participants on an NHMRC-funded trial showing vitamin D supplementation over 2 years had modest effects on knee osteoarthritis.

Variability in plasma concentrations of glucosamine in osteoarthritis patients taking various glucosamine formulations
Project Team: Prof Gregory Peterson, Prof Graeme Jones, Dr Rahul Patel, Dr Syed Tabish R Zaidi and Mrs Chhavi Asthana.

Glucosamine is often taken by patients with osteoarthritis, with patients varying in their clinical response. This variation may be due to differences in absorption of the compound, which is known to be poorly absorbed. This study will investigate plasma levels, with a newly developed analytical procedure, in individuals taking glucosamine.

Identifying novel genetic loci associated with an increased relapse rate and disability progression in multiple sclerosis
Project Team: Mr Yuan Zhou and Prof Bruce Taylor.

Determining genetic drivers of MS clinical course requires meticulously collected prospective data in well characterised MS longitudinal cohorts. The research team have such a cohort but lack the comprehensive genotyping to allow this vital analysis. This grant will enable the research team to complete genotyping this cohort.

2017 Establishment Grants

Investigating the utility of retinal Base-Editing
Project Team: Assoc Prof Alex Hewitt, Dr Guei-Sheung Liu and Dr Anthony Cook.

The CRISPR/Cas system, used by bacteria to counter viral intrusion, can edit DNA in specific sites. The application of this technology opens the very real prospect of anticipatory cures to well-defined inherited retinal diseases. This study proposes expanding the pre-clinical investigation of DNA editing of cells in the retina.

Understanding the human ischemic cascade: Improving the process of drug development for cerebral ischemia
Project Team: Prof David Howells, Dr Emma Eaton, Assoc Prof Mirella Dottori and Prof Peter Dargaville.

Brain ischemia is a major cause of death and disability. Drug therapies for ischemic injury which have shown promise in rodent models, have had poor translation in human patients. This study aims to characterise the human cellular response to ischemia and use injury-reducing hypothermia to identify human-relevant therapeutics targets.

Clinical and metabolic factors and imaging abnormalities in chronic plantar heel pain
Project team: Prof Graeme Jones, Mr Jason Rogers, Prof Tania Winzenberg, Prof Jill Cook and Dr Andrew Halliday.

Plantar heel pain is the most common reason why people with foot pain consult a health practitioner but it is poorly understood. This study will compare clinical, psychological and metabolic factors and imaging abnormalities in individuals with and without plantar heel pain, with re-assessment of cases 12 months later.

Investigation of loss and gain at chromosome 7p21 in a Tasmanian hereditary prostate cancer family
Project Team: Dr Liesel FitzGerald, Assoc Prof Joanne Dickinson, Dr Roslyn Malley, Dr Shaun Donovan, Ms Karen Dun, Mr Giuseppe (Joe) Diano, Dr Marketa Skala and Dr Frank Redwig.

The research team’s preliminary data suggests that multiple prostate cancer patients in a Tasmanian family have a genetic disruption on chromosome 7. This study aims to confirm and further characterise this chromosomal disruption as it may be targeted with emerging new therapies, which slow prostate cancer progression.

Investigating Batten disease-causing CLN3 mutations in patient-specific stem cells and neurons
Project Team: Dr Anthony Cook, Dr Tyson Ware, Assoc Prof Alex Hewitt and Dr Anna King.

Batten disease is a rare childhood disease that results in dementia and a progressive loss of vision, and which can be due to mutation of the CLN3 gene. Using advances in stem cell technologies, the research team will study how the Batten disease-causing mutations in CLN3 differently affect nerve health.


Project Grant for 2017-19

Paving the way for future stroke drug development: creating a new gold-standard model of stroke
Project Team: Dr Lila Landowski, Prof David Howells, Dr Helen Castley, Dr Brad Sutherland and Dr Matthew Kirkcaldie.

Stroke is a leading cause of death and chronic disability. Stroke therapeutics developed in animal models fail when translated into human clinical trials, due to flaws inherent in these models. The study breaks through this translational roadblock by using magnetic microparticles to induce an ischemic stroke that better recapitulates human stroke.

Project Grant for 2016-18

Improved cardiovascular Disease hEALth service delivery in Australia (the IDEAL study)
- Dr Martin Schultz

The IDEAL study program will establish a new health service method with the goal of improving the measurement and delivery of information to general practitioners about the cardiovascular disease risk of their patients. This new health service method will be developed within Tasmanian Pathology Services and tested via a large-scale clinical trial. It is expected that the new health service method will reduce cardiovascular related hospitalisations and mortality.

Project Grant for 2015-17

The psychosocial determinants of treatment pathways, clinical outcomes and costs in Tasmanians with advanced chronic kidney disease
- Dr Charlotte McKercher

This state-wide study will assess over 600 Tasmanian adults living with advanced chronic kidney disease to examine the influence of psychosocial and medical comorbidities on kidney disease progression, treatment pathways, clinical outcomes and associated costs. This will support better informed decision-making and optimal use of healthcare expenditure within renal services.

Past funding

2016 (more information)

2015 (more information)

2014 (more information)

2013 (more information)

2012 (more information)

2011 (more information)

2010 (more information)

Official record of RHH Research Foundation funding; 1998 to date

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