Highlights 2022

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2022 Highlights
Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Table of Contents 4 6 7 17 Research Themes and Impact Staff and Student Profile Menzies Excellence Awards and recognition 10 19 18 Multiple Sclerosis Research Flagship Farewell and Board Members Major Grants and Competitive Funding Peer reviewed research publications and Grants and Fellowships Philanthropy and Media Mentions 12 11 Financial Report 2 Menzies Institute for Medical Research | 2022 Highlights


Menzies exists to perform internationally significant medical research leading to healthier, longer and better lives for Tasmanians.

Research Themes

Public Health, Primary Care and Health Services

We work to improve prevention and management of important health problems that impact large sections of our population. We focus on lifestyle and environmental risk factors, obesity, multiple sclerosis and mental health.

Brain Health and Disease

Brain diseases like multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease affect many Australians and impact movement and memory. Our research focus is to discover the causes of each disease and develop effective treatments to guard the nervous system.

Cardiovascular and Respiratory Health and Disease

We focus on the prevention and management of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Our aim is to reduce the impact of stroke, heart and lung disease.

Musculoskeletal Health and Disease

Our research focuses on common bone and joint diseases, including osteoarthritis.

Genetics and Cancer

Our priorities are to understand the genetic and molecular cause of cancer, blinding eye diseases and multiple sclerosis, and share this knowledge to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases.

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Research Impact

Modelling on Long Covid

Professor Martin Hensher’s modelling on Long Covid showed that a minimum of 160,000 Australians will be experiencing Long Covid by the end of 2022. The report also found that over 500,000 people will have Long Covid symptoms and that more than 110,000 of them will suffer significant impacts. He called on the Australian Government to listen to health professionals and act on the recommendations.

Phase two trial TAURUS.2

We began the phase two trial TAURUS.2 which is assessing the effects of magnetic brain stimulation (MBS) on multiple sclerosis and is being rolled out to six sites nationally. It will also use advanced brain imaging techniques such as MRI to assess whether MBS effectively increases myelin levels in the brain.

Risk factors present in childhood

The results of a global study that began at Menzies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and confirmed that risk factors present in childhood are directly related to heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular problems later in life. More than 40,000 participants worldwide were tracked for several decades.

Helping babies breathe

Professor Peter Dargaville and his collaborator Dr Tim Gale currently have a licence in place for the “OxyGenie tm” technology with UK based SLE Ltd. Discussions are underway to vary the existing licence agreement by adding the USA and Canada and also revising royalty rates.

Safer Air

Professor Fay Johnston and Dr Penelope Jones continue to work with the University of Melbourne to combine the “AirRater” app with the “Melbourne Pollen” app with a view to creating a new company.

Bait delivered vaccine

Breakthroughs in our research into a bait delivered vaccine for the Devil Facial Tumour Disease and the publication of four new papers has led to momentum which could stop Devil Facial Tumour Disease 2 before it spreads across Tasmania and perhaps even eliminate Devil Facial Tumour Disease 1.

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Staff and Student Profile

On average, each week we had a casual staff working the equivalent of 5.36 FTE through 2022.


Masters students: 3

PhD students: 85

Honour students: 12

Professional Staff – 75 Academic Staff – 89 Male staff Female staff
Staff by gender
Casual staff
35 54 12 63
85 12 3 6 Menzies Institute for Medical Research | 2022 Highlights

Menzies Excellence Awards 2022


For outstanding research achievement evidenced through publication in a scholarly journal.

Professor Mark Nelson

‘Safety of ceasing aspirin used without a clinical indication after age 70 years: a subgroup analysis of ASPREE randomized trial’, published in Annals of Internal Medicine.


To recognise research that has had demonstrable benefits to society.

Professor Ingrid van der Mei

For translation and end user uptake of research that has had a demonstrable benefit to society.

▼ Menzies excellence awards

Menzies Excellence Awards 2022


Hoang Phan

‘Factors contributing to sex differences in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) after ischemic stroke: the Brain Attack Surveillance In Corpus Christi (BASIC) project’, published in The Journal of American Heart Association.

Amin Zarghami

‘Long-term trajectories of employment status, workhours, and disability support pension status, after a first episode of CNS demyelination’, published in The Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

Verity Cleland and Jing Tian

‘Body-mass index trajectories from childhood to mid-adulthood and their sociodemographic predictors: Evidence from the International Childhood Cardiovascular Cohort (i3C) Consortium’, published in EClinicalMedicine.


Chrissie Ong

‘Class II transactivator induces expression of MHC-I and MHC-II in transmissible Tasmanian devil facial tumours’, published in Open Biology

Johanna Jones

‘Pathogenic genetic variants identified in Australian families with paediatric cataract’, published in BMJ Open Ophthalmology.

Xin Lin

‘Novel plasma and brain proteins that are implicated in multiple sclerosis’, published in Brain: A Journal of Neurology.


Laura Laslett

‘Poor sleep and multiple sclerosis: associations with symptoms of multiple sclerosis and quality of life’, published in The Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

Dean Picone

‘Validation Status of Blood Pressure Measuring Devices Sold Globally’, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sionne Lucas

‘Preclinical interstitial lung disease in relatives of familial pulmonary fibrosis patients’, published in Pulmonology.


Professor Kathryn Burdon

For recognition of significant and ongoing contributions made to the career and professional development of staff and students


Natasha Stevens

For outstanding and exceptional leadership of the MS Research Flagship and contribution to its further development.

Mark Bennett

For an outstanding contribution to the leadership of Menzies and an exceptional commitment to the delivery of its mission to perform significant medical research leading to better lives for Tasmanians.

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Awards and Recognition


Dr Suzi Claflin from our MS Research Flagship was the recipient of the prestigious Young Tall Poppy Science Award 2022 for her work in helping the community better understand multiple sclerosis.


MS Australia (MSA) held a 50th year anniversary dinner and recognised Menzies as a medal recipient in recognition of our “unwavering and passionate dedication, recognising the outstanding, consistent and selfless service and many contributions towards the MS movement in Australia”. Professor Bruce Taylor and Dr Suzi Claflin were awarded individual medals.



In November Australia’s biggest investment conference, Sohn Hearts & Minds, was held in Hobart. We were fortunate to be the beneficiary of their philanthropic efforts and our lead environmental health researcher, Professor Fay Johnston, gave the keynote presentation about her work dedicated to improving the quality of air that we breathe.


Professor Peter Dargaville was a finalist in the Tasmanian Australian of the Year Awards. He was nominated for his outstanding work helping pre-term babies around the world breathe.


Professor Bruce Taylor was awarded a prestigious fellowship with the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.

Professor Mark Nelson was awarded the Peter Mudge Medal by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). This award is made annually to a RACGP Fellow who has advanced the discipline of general practice and the goals of the college, and whose original research has the most potential to significantly influence daily general practice.

▲ Professor Fay Johnston
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▲ Dr Suzi Claflin

Multiple Sclerosis Research Flagship

The Menzies MS Research Flagship is working hard to reduce the impact of multiple sclerosis (MS) for individuals and the community, in Tasmania and beyond.

In 2022 we;

• Launched a national, ground-breaking, phase II clinical trial aiming to stop and reverse the symptoms of MS through brain repair mechanisms.

• Achieved world wide recognition for Understanding MS, one of the top ten online courses in the world, which has improved knowledge and understanding of MS, health literacy and self-efficacy, with >36,000 participants from >130 countries.

• Celebrated 20 years of the Australian MS longitudinal study (AMSLS) and launched the MS nurses report, advocating for increased federal funding and equity of access to care in Australia.

• Created an MS stem cell biobank to further national and international research efforts to understand the biological causes of MS and advance the discovery of new treatments.

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▲ Multiple Sclerosis Research Flagship.

Grants and Fellowships

Number of Grants

The number of peer reviewed research publications. This is the interim number or refereed articles in scholarly journals from Menzies in 2022. The final number for 2021 was 382.

Major Grants – 13

Minor Grants – 14

Honorary fellowship – 1

Grant Value


Major Grants – $6,832,513

Minor Grants – $526,782

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260 OVER

Grants and Competitive Funding

Funding body Award Menzies researchers Project title Value $ Type National Health & Medical Research Council Grant – Centre of Research Excellence Professor Fay Johnston; Professor Graeme Zosky Centre for Safe Air 2,500,000 Major Medical Research Future Fund Grant –Cardiovascular Health Mission Assoc Professor Verity Cleland; Professor Leigh Blizzard; Dr Kim Jose Improving cardiovascular health through increased transport-related physical activity: A co-designed randomised controlled trial 767,132 Major National Health & Medical Research Council Grant – Ideas Dr Bennet McComish Using genomic signatures of natural selection to elucidate the genetic architecture of multiple sclerosis 764,770 Major National Health & Medical Research Council Fellowship –Investigator Grant Dr Dean Picone Saving lives with better blood pressure management 655,150 Major Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation Grant –Major Project Dr Kelsie Raspin; Professor Joanne Dickinson; Dr Jessica Roydhouse; Dr Mathew Wallis; Dr Sionne Lucas; Dr Liesel FitzGerald Closing the Health Gap: Precision Care for Men with Prostate Cancer (PC4PC-TAS) 448,222 Major Australian Coal Association Research Program Grant Professor Graeme Zosky; Dr Yong Song Is exposure to illite dust linked to pneumoconiosis? 302,427 Major Multiple Sclerosis Australia Grant – Project Professor Bruce Taylor; Dr Suzi Claflin Professor Ingrid van der Mei; Dr Julie Campbell; Assoc Professor Des Graham Evaluating the factors influencing National Disability Insurance Scheme participation and its impact among Australians with MS 244,123 Major Multiple Sclerosis Australia Fellowship –Postdoctoral Dr Nicholas Blackburn How does rare genetic variation contribute to the development of Multiple Sclerosis 225,000 Major Multiple Sclerosis Australia Fellowship –Postdoctoral Ms Alice Saul; Professor Ingrid van der Mei The Role of pain in MS 225,000 Major Australian Research Council Grant –Linkage Projects Dr Andy Flies; Ms Ruth Pye Developing a wildlife health intelligence and vaccine distribution system 273,446 Major Heart Foundation Fellowship –Postdoctoral Dr Niamh Chapman Supporting general practitioners to identify and manage cardiovascular risk when reported through existing care pathways 151,200 Major Heart Foundation Fellowship –Postdoctoral Dr Brooklyn Fraser Harnessing the power of childhood physical fitness to prevent cardiovascular disease 151,200 Major Multiple Sclerosis Australia Grant – Project Dr Bennet McComish; Professor Bruce Taylor; Dr Yuan Zhou; Dr Phillip Melton Using genomic signatures of natural selection to elucidate the genetic architecture of multiple sclerosis 124,843 Major MND Australia Grant –Innovator Dr Rosie Clark; Professor Tracey Dickson A novel approach to determine targets of inhibitory dysfunction in ALS: driving inhibitory dysfunction through Gad67 haploinsufficiency 99,809 Minor MND Australia Grant –Innovator Professor Tracey Dickson; Dr Rosie Clark; Professor Kaylene Young The Many Paths to Inhibitory Dysfunction and Excitotoxicity in ALS: Glial cells, not just innocent bystanders? 88,505 Minor 12 Menzies Institute for Medical Research | 2022 Highlights

Grants and Competitive Funding Continued

Funding body Award Menzies researchers Project title Value $ Type Lung Foundation Australia CREATE Hope Clinical Fellowship in PF Dr Ingrid Cox Creating an evidence base to facilitate rapid access to early diagnosis and care for people living with pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial lung disease 75,000 Minor Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Grant –RACGP/HCF Research Grant Professor Tania Winzenberg; Dr Claire Morley Right care, right time, right place: understanding high healthcare service utilisation in Tasmania: a data linkage study 60,000 Minor Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia Grant –Research Professor Kathryn Burdon; Dr Bennet McComish Genetic indicators of treatment response to anti-VEGF intraocular injections for diabetic macular oedema 48,430 Minor Wildcare Tasmania Grant –Tasmanian Nature Conservation Fund Grant Ms Ruth Pye Immunological approach to protect Tasmanian devils against devil facial tumour 25,000 Minor Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation Grant – Project Dr Liesel FitzGerald; Professor Joanne Dickinson A Clinical and Biospecimens Prostate Cancer Resource for Biomarker Research in Tasmania 24,943 Minor Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation Grant – Project Dr Johanna Jones; Professor Kathryn Burdon; Dr Mathew Wallis Assay development to improve genetic testing in cataract patients with gap junction variants 24,865 Minor Multiple Sclerosis Australia Grant –Incubator Professor Bruce Taylor A multicentre study of the epidemiology of multiple sclerosis in Australia 22,430 Minor Centre for Air Quality and Health Research Evaluation Grant –Seeding Dr Amanda Wheeler; Professor Fay Johnston Evaluating the selection of safe, healthy routes to school for actively commuting children 19,723 Minor ANZMUSC/ ANZBACK CRE Grant – Seed Dr Saliu Balogun; Assoc Professor Dawn Aitken; Professor Tania Winzenberg Development of a co-design intervention to increase General Practitioners’ referral rates to firstline treatment for knee and hip osteoarthritis 18,109 Minor Health in Preconception & Pregnancy Centre of Research Excellence Grant – Early to Mid Career Researcher Dr Michelle Kilpatrick Supporting behaviour change: Building local capacity to train maternal health professionals in the ‘art’ of Healthy Conversation Skills (HCS) 9,968 Minor Heart Foundation Award –Collaboration and Exchange Dr Dean Picone Expanding efforts to improve the accuracy of blood pressure measurement and cardiovascular disease prediction 5,000 Minor Heart Foundation Award –Collaboration and Exchange Dr Martin Schultz Collaboration to enhance the clinical application of exercise blood pressure 5,000 Minor Heart Foundation FellowshipFuture Leader Dr Dean Picone Saving lives with better blood pressure measurement 0* Major
*Honorary fellowship, no funding associated. Menzies Institute for Medical Research | 2022 Highlights 13
NEED NEW 14 Menzies Institute for Medical Research | 2022 Highlights


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Thank you to all who support our work with a gift; we are incredibly grateful for your generosity as we celebrate the genuine difference that philanthropy is making to research at Menzies.

During 2022, we strengthened our commitment to building the capacity of future medical researchers with 23 of our students and staff supported by either a philanthropically funded scholarship or a fellowship – all of which are enabled by the generosity of our local community.

If we are to improve the health of Tasmanians, our continued work here at the Menzies is vital. Your donations fund research projects, provide student scholarships, support our researchers and fund the purchase of significant research equipment. And importantly, your generosity often provides critical early funding to many of our research projects which then go on to attract substantial nationally competitive funding.

Thank you for your unwavering support that helps to advance our research for the benefit of all. Your gift –large or small – makes a difference whether you donate to our appeal, make a planned gift in your will, or give a donation in memory of a loved one. Thank you for joining us here at Menzies to create better health opportunities and lives for Tasmanians. menzies.utas.edu.au/get-involved

All donations over $2 are tax deductible (in Australia). Donations can be made to Menzies Institute for Medical Research, at the University of Tasmania.

1,619 Donors

$590,916 Bequests

23 Philanthropically funded scholarships and fellowships

2,675 Individual gifts

$2.2M Donations

132 Recurring donors

National and International Print, Television, Radio and Online Media 440

Media mentions

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Financial Report

As at 31 December 2022, the University of Tasmania held investment funds valued at $30,029,188 for the purpose of supporting research at Menzies. Investment returns provide a source of research income for Menzies and these funds are disbursed in accordance with donors’ wishes.

The investment portfolio is managed by the Investment Advisory Panel, comprising of University staff and industry professionals, which provide oversight and stewardship of the investment portfolio and advice on investment strategy and policy.

1 January to 31 December 2022 2021 Actual 2022 Actual Income Commonwealth Government Research Support $5,094,156 $5,950,743 Teaching Income $299,091 $316,036 Menzies Foundation -Commonwealth Government Research Grants $8,677,401 $7,962,961 Tasmanian Government grants $2,292,612 $2,549,663 Other Contracts And Agreements $5,585,247 $4,877,043 Donations $2,404,896 $2,236,360 Bequests $985,213 $590,916 Investment Income $4,536,588 (1,689,735) Sales $303,999 $261,381 Other Income $732,019 $776,663 UTAS Contributions $506,058 $339,505 $31,417,279 $24,171,536 Expenses Salaries Expenses $16,445,030 $18,414,921 Scholarships $655,719 $405,238 Travel and Training $154,155 $432,936 Research Sub-Contractors and Consultants $2,059,403 $1,383,465 Depreciation, Equipment and Infrastructure $1,031,071 $884,367 Other Expenses $3,020,646 $3,869,677 $23,365,024 $25,390,604
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Farewell to our Director and other long serving staff

In 2022 we farewelled our Director, Distinguished Professor Alison Venn. Starting in the role in 2016 Alison led Menzies through a period of growth and consolidation. In that time, we saw record yearly publications and funding, the establishment of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Flagship and subsequent $10 million in federal government funding, as well as our first commercially licenced research invention, the OxyGenie™, which helps premature babies to breathe. We now have a stronger focus on working in cross-disciplinary teams and developing partnerships outside academia, including with health consumers and health services, which helps ensure our research meets community needs. Alison continues her research in an honorary capacity.

We also farewelled Professor Leigh Blizzard and Tim Albion, Senior Database Administrator, both who had been with Menzies for over two decades. Alison and Leigh have been appointed as Emeritus Professors to acknowledge their contributions and tenure. Leigh was also named the Inaugural Fellow of the Australasian Epidemiological Association.

Board Members

Professor Moira Clay (Chair)

Distinguished Professor Alison Venn (Director)

Professor Denise Fassett

Professor Anthony Koutoulis

Ms Philippa Leedham

Professor Stephen Tong

Professor Geoffrey Donnan

Ms Rebecca Kardos

Mr Edward Kemp

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