Monday, 24 February 2020 - 9:00pm

The Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation has today announced exciting details of its much-anticipated grant funding for 2020, providing new incubator grants, annual project grants, together with a further significant three-year major project grant study on dementia, all supporting 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 of the local Tasmanian community.


“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 us all.


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


In announcing the grants today, Ms Francis highlighted that research grants offered by the Foundation in 2020 would offer capacity to focus on a variety of health issues at almost every life stage, noting the significant burden of ill-health experienced by many across our Tasmanian community.


Topics to be explored by the studies funded for 2020 are broad but vital. Some of these projects will explore facets of mental health, chronic respiratory conditions (including cystic fibrosis), and forms of cancer, including metastatic bone tumours and prostate cancer.    The brain will be a key focus with early signs of cognitive decline under investigation, while new ways of drug delivery and testing during stroke will also be examined.  Given this state’s higher than average rate of premature birth, the impact of being born preterm upon learning during the early school years is the focus of a new study, while another investigation will look into breathing difficulties experienced by infants born at only 26 to 32 week’s gestation.


After a successful campaign lead by the Foundation calling on the community to add further support during the final weeks of 2019, a significant investigation will be conducted into vascular disease, with associated studies also looking at ways to improve diagnosis and management of kidney disease and the various peripheral conditions arising from diabetes.


The RHH Research Foundation awarded Clinical Geneticist, Dr Mathew Wallis, and his team an Incubator Grant for 2020 to assist in establishing a better understanding of the extent of genetic kidney diseases in Tasmania, a study which will be vital for the community.


As Director of the Tasmanian Clinical Genetic Service, Dr Mathew Wallis said he and his team were excited and honoured to be awarded funding and to be able to apply these technologies into clinical practice and add to research.  Dr Wallis particularly thanked Blundstone Australia for their generosity in funding this study through their support of the RHH Research Foundation.


“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 locally.” 


“I have a strong commitment to supporting equitable access to genetic services and testing. This involves collaboration with clinicians and the community to increase knowledge and skills and provide effective services,” he said.


The overall aim of the project is 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.


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 community of eager researchers based within and around the RHH which demonstrates a need for continuing and increased support from across our general and business communities for this vital work.


“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 benefactors,” she said.


For the fifth successive year, anonymous and known benefactors have generously chosen to become involved with the Foundation by directly funding Incubator and Project Grants, as well as generous support by local businesses, including Blundstone Australia who will fund two new Incubator Grants for 2020.


As an independent entity, the RHH Research Foundation provides an important role in supporting specialist doctors, nurses and allied health professionals with research interests through its annual grants program.  With a strong emphasis on collaboration, this latest round of funding includes researchers from the RHH, and various areas of the University of Tasmania’s College of Health and Medicine, including the Menzies Research Institute.

Read more about the research grants here!

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