Philanthropy partnership funds high impact research

Monash Partners secures innovative partnership with philanthropy

Monash Partners, a collaboration between leading health services, teaching and research organisations, is pleased to announce an innovative and transformative partnership with Equity Trustees, providing $904,000 for high impact research projects that will directly benefit children and those suffering with cancer, heart disease and depression. These funds will enable unprecedented collaboration and improve the quality of life of our patients, including the most vulnerable in our community.

Equity Trustees has directed the combined resources of 24 philanthropic trusts to a new Partnership Program which will inject more than $3m over three years to Monash Partners, the Mater Foundation, and the National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation.

“Equity Trustees warmly congratulates the inaugural recipients of our Medical Research and Health Partner Program. We are excited about the possibilities of what this stable three years of funding might mean in terms of advancements in research and treatment programs,” said Jodi Kennedy, General Manager of Charitable Trusts and Philanthropy at Equity Trustees.

“We were looking for partners who could help us link researchers with healthcare professionals in meaningful two-way collaborations to generate and rapidly translate patient-focused research; leverage our funds; engage with us and our clients to deepen our knowledge and understanding; and were focused on empowering change across the sector.”

Monash Partners recognises the importance of philanthropy in supporting innovation in health and medical research and is delighted to be a partner in Equity Trustees new Medical Research and Health Partner Program.

“These partnership projects are underpinned by our well established collaborative model and are designed to rapidly transform research into healthcare delivery and direct patient benefit. They will be led by our talented world-leading research clinicians; will include early to mid-career researchers; will promote career development for young women; and, will have impact across the breadth of Monash Partners,” Professor Helena Teede, Executive Director of Monash Partners, explains.

Partnership Program funding from the charitable trusts managed by Equity Trustees will assist Monash Partners to:

  • Validate new non-invasive blood bio-markers to improve diagnosis and treatment of multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer

  • Use data in new ways to improve outcomes after intensive care for cardiac arrest

  • Map childhood viruses in real time to improve asthma health outcomes

  • Deliver personalised medicine for cancer patients using cutting-edge technology

  • Improve treatments and survival in acute myeloid leukaemia through a national centre

  • Develop new approaches to the treatment of depression in women in mid-life

  • Improve quality and safety outcomes and access to specialist care for paediatric tonsillectomy

  • Trial a new treatment to prevent cerebral palsy in newborns.​​

Equity trustees and Monash Partners funded projects

Validate new blood bio-markers to improve diagnosis and treatment of multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer

Multiple Myeloma is a fatal cancer affecting white blood cells found in the bone marrow. We have now for the first time demonstrated that genetic material released by the cancerous plasma cell can be extracted from patient blood samples and analysed in the laboratory – a so called ‘liquid biopsy’. This means that invasive and painful bone marrow biopsies may be avoided in future. This project will validate the use of patient blood samples as a non-invasive diagnostic technique for multiple myeloma.

Novel use of data to improve prediction of outcomes after intensive care for cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrest is the most devastating manifestation of heart disease. Despite the best efforts of emergency medical responders, many patients cannot be resuscitated and mortality is very high even in those patients who survive to hospital. Using sophisticated computer modelling approaches we aim to develop better ways to predict outcomes after cardiac arrest and to identify potential new targets for therapeutic intervention.

Establish a Monash Partners national reference centre for molecular monitoring of residual disease in acute myeloid leukaemia 

Fewer than 30% of patients diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia will live for more than five years. More research into the condition is essential to improve current treatments and patient survival.  While chemotherapy can be very effective, between 30 – 80% of patients will relapse within two years, and this is the main cause of death. We now know that up to 60% of patients show signs of minimal residual disease after intensive chemotherapy and this is the most important predictor of survival. This project will establish Australia’s first national reference centre to study and treat minimal residual disease in acute myeloid leukaemia.

Develop personalised medicine for cancer patients using next generation sequencing

In Australia, routine genetic testing is only available for certain cancers, and current tests are limited to analysing one or a handful of genes at a time, and only for the most common mutations. This project will develop and implement a comprehensive, sensitive and rapid gene sequencing diagnostic test to allow physicians to quickly find out whether a patient's cancer carries clinically important mutations. A comprehensive targeted sequencing approach in routine molecular diagnostics of Australia will be pivotal in guiding treatment decisions and in identifying patients who are candidates for clinical trials.

New Approaches for Perimenopausal Depression

The rate of depression and completed suicide increases dramatically in women in midlife. We need to understand more about the interplay between menopausal processes and depression, and develop new, tailored treatments for women. This grant will enable an innovative combination of new hormone treatment and non-invasive brain stimulation to provide better understanding of the changes in brain chemistry and circuitry underlying depression in menopausal women.

SNOTWATCH Asthma:  Mapping childhood viruses in real time

SNOTWATCH will combine routinely collected results from children and adults across Victorian hospitals and clinics to map respiratory germs by time and place. This will help us not only understand how different viruses and bacteria spread across Victoria each year but will enable us to measure how each bug impacts on important health conditions like asthma.

Towards evidenced-based surgical planning for paediatric tonsillectomy: 

Tonsillectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures in childhood, with more than 50,000 procedures nationwide per year for symptoms of obstructed breathing during sleep (obstructive sleep apnoea) or frequent tonsillitis. However, tonsillectomy happens much more often in some geographical areas than others, raising questions about how clinical decision-making and aspects of the health service (such as waiting lists and referral patterns) affect how many children have the surgery. Our project will examine the underlying causes of variation in tonsillectomy rates, and develop better diagnostic tools for clinicians to guide referral, treatment and optimal care planning at a service level.

PROTECT: a new treatment to prevent cerebral palsy

Every 15 hours an Australian child is born with cerebral palsy, a common cause of physical disability in children. Babies in the womb can have limited growth if they don’t receive the oxygen and nutrients they need. These growth-restricted babies can also have less oxygen reaching the brain and are at much greater risk of developing cerebral palsy. Currently, no treatment exists that can reduce the chance of damage to the brain. Melatonin, a powerful anti-oxidant, has been shown to protect the unborn brain in this circumstance. The PROTECT trial will explore if melatonin given to mothers during pregnancy can protect the brain in unborn growth-restricted babies. We will look at how melatonin protects the brain and also see if it improves how the brain works at two years of age. If successful, this would be the first treatment that can prevent cerebral palsy and improve outcomes for these children and their families.

The generous funding provided through Equity Trustees will support a wide range of translational research projects that respond directly to the needs of the communities, health providers and health services that will deliver direct clinical benefit.

Monash Partners is a collaboration between clinical care providers (public and private), major teaching institutions, and medical research institutes and was recognised by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in 2015. Established in 2011, the partnership now covers a population of 3.2M Victorians (around 15% of the national population). We catalyse, facilitate and enable integration of research, education and health care, building partnerships to accelerate the pace, scale and impact of research and innovation to deliver tangible health benefit. Our vision is 'to measurably enhance the health of the communities we serve'.

Equity Trustees was established in 1888 for the purpose of providing independent and impartial Trustee and Executor services to help families throughout Australia protect their wealth. As Australia’s leading specialist trustee company, we offer a diverse range of services to individuals, families and corporate clients including asset management, estate planning, philanthropic services and Responsible Entity (RE) services for fund managers.



Gillian Chamberlain

Branding and Communications

Monash Partners

03 8572 2627 / 04111 49 656​