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 (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).

Below is a list of our 2019 Research Grant recipients:

New Incubator Grants for 2019

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

Project Team: Dr Andrew Flies, Prof Alex Hewitt and Dr Louise Nott.

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.


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

Project Team: Dr Dino Premilovac, Dr Brad Sutherland, Prof David Howells, Assoc Prof Nuri Guven and Dr Helen Castley.

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.


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

Project Team: Dr Emma Lea, Dr Lyn Goldberg, Dr Clare Ramsden, Ms Jean Symes, Prof Fran McInerney and Dr Frank Nicklason.

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.


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

Project Team: Dr Barbara de Graaff, Dr June Song, Adjunct Assoc Prof Martin Hensher, Dr Julie Campbell, Dr Jodi Glading and Prof Andrew Palmer.

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.


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

Project Team: Dr Corinne Mirkazemi, Prof Greg Peterson, Prof Luke Bereznicki and Dr Tracey Batt.

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.


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

Project Team: Dr Rahul Patel, Mr Troy Wanandy, Prof Greg Peterson and Prof Matthew Jose.

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.


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.

Project Team: Dr Noha Ferrah, Prof Richard Turner, Prof Matthew Jose and Prof Joseph Ibrahim.

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.


New Project Grants for 2019

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

Project Team: Dr Carlie Cullen, Assoc Prof Kaylene Young, Prof Bruce Taylor and Dr Mark Hinder.

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.


A smarter way to measure blood pressure.

Project Team: Dr Dean Picone, Prof James Sharman, Dr Martin Schultz, Dr Andrew Black, Assoc Prof Philip Roberts-Thomson and Dr Nathan Dwyer.

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.


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

Project team: Dr Liesel FitzGerald, Prof Jo Dickinson, Dr Vince Murdolo, Dr Shaun Donovan, Dr Roslyn Malley and Dr Frank Redwig.

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.


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

Project Team: Ms Julie Campbell, Dr Andrew Black, Prof Andrew Palmer, Prof James Sharman, Adjunct Assoc Prof Martin Hensher and Dr Barbara de Graaff.

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.


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

Project Team: Dr Kate Brettingham-Moore, Dr Allison Black, Dr Phillippa Taberlay and Assoc Prof Adele Holloway.

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.


Understanding why mechanical ventilation contributes to mortality in critically ill patients

Project Team: Prof Graeme Zosky and Prof Peter Dargaville.​

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.

Major Project Grant for 2019 - 21

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

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.

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.

Major Project Grant for 2018 - 20

Identifying pathological pathways and putative therapeutics for the treatment of nervous system pathology in people with Multiple Sclerosis
Project Team: Dr Kimberley Pitman, Dr Kaylene Young, Prof Bruce Taylor, Dr Jac Charlesworth and Assoc Prof Alex Hewitt.

DNA sequencing of Tasmanian families with multiple closely related MS cases has implicated the GRIK4 gene in the development of this disease. This project aims to understand how GRIK4 affects the central nervous system, determine its role in disease pathogenesis, and repurpose existing pharmaceuticals targeting this pathway to offset neurodegeneration.

Major 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.

Major 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.

Major 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 comorbitities 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

2018 (more information)

2017 (more information)

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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Special thanks to our major sponsor
Johns Group Tasmania