Tuesday, 16 February 2021 - 1:01pm

The Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation will tonight hold its annual Research Grants Launch event to thank partners and community supporters for their valuable commitment to funding vital research in Tasmania.  Local researchers will take to the stage to share more exciting details of the much-anticipated grant funding for 2021, which will see over $1M injected into vital local medical research on a variety of health issues affecting Tasmanians.

RHH Hospital Research Foundation CEO, Heather Francis, said the core purpose of these grants is to assist emerging and highly-skilled clinical researchers to collaborate with each other for the benefit Tasmanians statewide.


“Each grant category is designed to nurture further expertise and research capacity while also delivering improved health and a significant difference to the wellbeing of so many Tasmanians, touching all stages of life.


“We are proud to have been delivering these important grants and striving towards a healthier community for over two decades now,” Ms Francis said.


The RHH Research Foundation awarded Dr Suzi Claflin and her team an Incubator Grant for 2021 which will see research undertaken on improving access to healthcare for those in the state’s regional and remote communities who are living with the chronic neuromuscular condition, Multiple Sclerosis (MS).


Dr Suzi Claflin said she and the team were excited and honoured to be awarded funding and to be able to improve the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians. Dr Claflin particularly thanked The Johns Group for their generosity in funding this study through their support of the RHH Research Foundation.


Dr Claflin said although there is currently no cure for MS, researchers have developed several medications that help treat MS and greatly improve the outlook for many people living with this condition, also assisting the quality of life for those around them.     


“Tasmania has the highest number of people living with MS per capita in Australia, and is also the most regional Australian state, so this research it particularly vital.


“However, to reap the benefits of these treatments, people with MS have to be able to access them. Living in regional and remote areas often presents particular challenges for people living with complex health conditions like multiple sclerosis as it can limit their access to healthcare.  We want to see this change,” she said.


“The team and I are absolutely thrilled to have the funding made available for what we believe is an incredibly important research study for many Tasmanians as we continue to identify the scale of this health problem.” 


CEO Heather Francis emphasised that research supported by the RHH Research Foundation is selected via a rigorous assessment process undertaken by the Foundation’s scientific research advisory panel, which is endorsed by the National Health & Medical Research Council (NH&MRC). 


“We are continually overwhelmed with applications from a cohort of eager and skilled clinical researchers based within and around the RHH.  This call from our vibrant local research m community demonstrates strongly the need for continuing and increased support from across the general and business communities to enable this vital work to occur.


“There’s great scope for additional investment in high-quality local health and medical research and this is something the RHH Research Foundation aims to achieve with the community’s support through our various fundraising initiatives and also through the generosity of a range of benefactors,” she said.


For the sixth successive year, a growing group of benefactors (including several individuals and families who choose to remain anonymous) have generously sought to become involved with the Foundation by directly funding Incubator and Project Grants.  In addition to generous local businesses, including Blundstone Australia and the Johns Group, these supporters have enabled an extra ten grants to be funded in the 2021 round, adding to a total pool of nineteen grants that have commenced in recent weeks.