New Incubator Grants for 2019

Rapid antibody development for improved cancer immunotherapy diagnostics.
(Generously funded by Jenny Mirkazemi and Family)

Immunotherapy targeting immune checkpoint molecules has revolutionised cancer treatment. However, the cost per patient can exceed $100,000 and this treatment works in only a subset of patients. This project aims to discover new cancer immunotherapy targets and build cutting-edge drug discovery capacity in Tasmania.
Project Team: Dr Andrew Flies, Prof Alex Hewitt and Dr Louise Nott.


Can Idebenone be used to reduce severity of stroke?
(Generously funded by Blundstone Australia Pty Ltd)

There are no drugs that improve the outcomes following a stroke. The project team has recently identified Idebenone as a readily available supplement that can also act as a neuroprotective agent during times of energy stress. This pilot project will investigate whether Idebenone can be used to reduce the severity of stroke, using an initial model based upon animal testing.
Project Team: Dr Dino Premilovac, Dr Brad Sutherland, Prof David Howells, Assoc Prof Nuri Guven and Dr Helen Castley.


NutriCog Tas: Effective identification of older inpatients at risk of poor nutrition.
(Generously funded by an anonymous donor)

Many older members of our community experience poor nutrition this can impact significantly upon their health, wellbeing and quality of life. This project will determine the best tool to identify those older patients with cognitive impairment who are at risk for poor nutrition. The aim is to help hospital services address the needs of people with cognitive impairment, helping to reduce their nutritional deterioration and associated poor clinical outcomes that impact on their ongoing health.
Project Team: Dr Emma Lea, Dr Lyn Goldberg, Dr Clare Ramsden, Ms Jean Symes, Prof Fran McInerney and Dr Frank Nicklason.


Evaluation of the Tasmanian Elective Surgery Panel Project.
(Generously funded by an anonymous donor)

In 2015, the Tasmanian State Government allocated additional funds to reduce the public hospital elective surgery waiting lists. A subset of waitlisted patients was ‘fast-tracked’ for elective surgery to hospitals in Tasmania and Victoria. This project will evaluate the outcomes of this initiative for patients and those involved in health service delivery and support.
Project Team: Dr Barbara de Graaff, Dr June Song, Adjunct Assoc Prof Martin Hensher, Dr Julie Campbell, Dr Jodi Glading and Prof Andrew Palmer.


A fresh look at local practice to prevent blood clots following hip and knee replacement surgery.

Blood clots are a serious complication of hip and knee surgery but can be largely prevented. A local review conducted 10 years ago indicated that only 1 in 20 patients were receiving the recommended preventative care. This research team will conduct a review to explore if and how practices have improved, providing guidance around how further improvements can be made to bring benefit across our local community.
Project Team: Dr Corinne Mirkazemi, Prof Greg Peterson, Prof Luke Bereznicki and Dr Tracey Batt.


Preventing pyridine exposure after peritoneal administration of Ceftazidime in patients with dialysis-associated peritonitis.
(Generously funded by Jenny Mirkazemi and Family)

Pseudomonas peritonitis is an inflammatory condition that can develop amongst those who rely on regular kidney dialysis when bacterial infection occurs within the peritoneal cavity. Ceftazidime is the most common medication used to treat this, but in this process, the production of pyridine (a toxic degradation product of Ceftazidime) raises some concern. This study will examine the degradation of Ceftazidime in peritoneal dialysis solutions to propose recommendations that aim to minimise the exposure of patients to pyridine.
Project Team: Dr Rahul Patel, Mr Troy Wanandy, Prof Greg Peterson and Prof Matthew Jose.


Evaluating the need for an integrated geriatric medicine service for older general surgery and trauma patients at the RHH: a review of the prevalence and preventability of acute kidney injury.

Older Tasmanians who are victims of trauma or have emergency abdominal surgery are at high-risk of complications during their stay in hospital. One model shown to improve their care is to integrate a geriatric medical team (a team with specialised medical experience in supporting older people) to the surgical unit. This project will look at the need for this service by measuring the prevalence of kidney impairment (a common yet serious complication) in older patients admitted under the general surgery and trauma services of the RHH.
Project Team: Dr Noha Ferrah, Prof Richard Turner, Prof Matthew Jose and Prof Joseph Ibrahim.


New Project Grants for 2019

Clinical safety assessment of rTMS application for the treatment of MS.

Oligodendrocytes are brain cells that die in MS, but non-invasive brain stimulation (rTMS) can promote their generation in preclinical models of disease. This project will take an important step in the clinical translation of this treatment and determine whether this type of stimulation can be safely delivered to people with MS.
Project Team: Dr Carlie Cullen, Assoc Prof Kaylene Young, Prof Bruce Taylor and Dr Mark Hinder.


A smarter way to measure blood pressure.

Standard cuff measurement of blood pressure (BP) has highly variable accuracy. This team recently discovered new elements that help explain this variable accuracy and so the project will capitalise on this information to develop a ‘smart’ cuff BP method that accurately measures BP, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.
Project Team: Dr Dean Picone, Prof James Sharman, Dr Martin Schultz, Dr Andrew Black, Assoc Prof Philip Roberts-Thomson and Dr Nathan Dwyer.


Is EEF2 a potential biomarker for more aggressive prostate cancer in Tasmanian patients?

Recent studies suggest that higher presence of the EEF2 gene may be associated with more aggressive prostate cancer. The research team aims to validate these results, focusing on a Tasmanian family in its Prostate Cancer Resource. There are no biomarkers that determine which patients are at risk of clinically significant prostate cancer, but this study aims to assist in potential development of pathological testing by determining if higher EEF2 levels are caused by DNA abnormalities in the tumour.
Project Team: Dr Liesel FitzGerald, Prof Jo Dickinson, Dr Vince Murdolo, Dr Shaun Donovan, Dr Roslyn Malley and Dr Frank Redwig.


The Royal Hobart Hospital’s innovative Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic (RACPC): A health economic evaluation of the patient, RHH and community benefits.

The RHH’s Rapid Access Chest Pain Clinic (RACPC) commenced in June 2014 and has delivered positive outcomes for its patients. The research team’s health economic investigation will now evaluate the benefits of this innovative patient-care model compared to the usual care pathways for people who present to the RHH with new onset chest pain.
Project Team: Dr Julie Campbell, Dr Andrew Black, Prof Andrew Palmer, Prof James Sharman, Adjunct Assoc Prof Martin Hensher and Dr Barbara de Graaff.


The impact of repeated DNA damage on the molecular profile of prostate cancer cells.

Many cancer treatments use repeated doses that induce DNA damage to kill cancer cells. However, it is unclear how this impacts future treatment responses and potential metastasis. This project will investigate the molecular changes a cell experiences when repeatedly exposed to DNA damage so that we can identify potential drivers for resistance and metastasis.
Project Team: Dr Kate Brettingham-Moore, Dr Allison Black, Dr Phillippa Taberlay and Assoc Prof Adele Holloway.


Understanding why mechanical ventilation contributes to mortality in critically ill patients

Mortality rates in patients who have lung failure and require mechanical ventilation are very high and, unfortunately, mechanical ventilation itself contributes to these high mortality rates. This project aims to understand how this occurs so that we can improve outcomes for these critically ill patients.
Project Team: Prof Graeme Zosky and Prof Peter Dargaville.


New Project Major Grant for 2019 - 2021


Health in Preconception, Pregnancy and Post-Birth (HIPPP): An antenatal lifestyle promotion program for the Royal Hobart Hospital

Royal Hobart Hospital clinicians have identified an urgent need to reduce the burden of maternal obesity which has serious consequences for mothers and babies. This project will provide crucial evidence on the effectiveness of integrating an evidence-based lifestyle intervention into usual antenatal care to improve service delivery and patient outcomes.
Project Team: Dr Michelle Kilpatrick, Professor Alison Venn, Dr Kristine Barnden, Ms Sue McBeath, Dr Cheryce Harrison, Professor Helen Skouteris, Professor Andrew Hills, Professor Helena Teede, Dr Briony Hill and Dr Siew Lim.

Special thanks to our major sponsor
Johns Group Tasmania