About DMRF

Amazing advancements in medicine are being made - right here in the Maritimes. This is where tomorrow’s big leap forward takes its first step. It’s the product of the hard work and tireless effort of our researchers. And it’s made possible by generous donors who contribute to a cause that will benefit people around the world for generations to come. This is Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation. Where breakthroughs begin.


In 1979, a group of business and community leaders, along with members of Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine, came together because they believed in the power of medical research to change and save lives - they also believed our region could and should be a leader in medical research excellence: Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) was formed. Today, DMRF provides critical support to researchers at Dalhousie’s Faculties of Medicine, Health, and Dentistry by fundraising to attract the best resources available to bolster their leading-edge work.  Whether it’s talent, equipment, training, or space, DMRF exists to strengthen this research to positively impact health and wellness regionally, nationally, and internationally. Collaboration is vital to our success and we nurture strong relationships with research institutes across geographic borders who share our quest for innovative outcomes. Our Board includes members from the Maritimes, with recent expansion into Ontario, and aspirations of acquiring individuals from across the country. Our members passionately care about health research and its potential to improve health outcomes of the people in this community and beyond. Forty years later, DMRF has raised tens of millions of dollars, and supported hundreds of world-class researchers by endowing projects, training leaders in health research, building partnerships, and funding new discoveries.  This is changing health outcomes locally, and all over the world.








(January 25, 1979 - Mr. R.A. Cluney, Mr. J.J. Kinley, Mr. B.G Irwin, Miss B.A. Hinds, Mrs. A. Balders, Dean J.D. Hatcher, Dr. P.C. Gordon, Mr. E. Spafford, Mr. G.F. Hughes, Mr. W.M. Sobey, Mr. H.R. Cohen)

When Dr. J Donald Hatcher was appointed Dean of Medicine at Dalhousie University in 1976, he immediately recognized that the lab equipment in the Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building (opened in 1967) was approaching the decade mark and was in desperate need of replacement. He was determined that something should be done. At the same time, philanthropist and prominent Halifax community member Mrs. Nora Balders desired to make a substantial donation to medical research in Nova Scotia. Notably, Dalhousie was the only medical school in the country at the time that had not received provincial or regional funding for research. 

Mrs. Balders explained to Mr. H. Reuben Cohen, Chair of the Dalhousie University Investment Committee, that she would like to make this considerable donation, provided that a goal be set to reach an endowment of $10 million for local medical research, and provided that Mr. William (Bill) Sobey be involved in the initiative. After follow-up discussions with Dean Hatcher and Bill Sobey, Reuben Cohen later returned to visit Nora Balders with the news that a group led by Bill Sobey was committed to achieving this ambitious goal, marking the beginning of an important journey. Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation was officially established in 1979, with Bill Sobey as the first elected Chair and Nora Balders as Vice Chair.


DMRF is supported by the generosity of individuals and corporate donors from the Maritime Provinces and across Canada who believe in the importance of health research. Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation’s support has enabled Dalhousie Medical School to build a world-renowned research capability. Dalhousie Medical School’s research programs are improving patient care and attracting top clinicians and the best minds in medical science to the Maritimes.

Your support can continue this important and critical work.


By raising and stewarding funds, we provide an increasing level of support for medical research excellence at Dalhousie Medical School and its affiliated health care institutions.


The development of cures, improvement of treatments, and prevention of disease through world-class research at Dalhousie Medical School.


  • Donor centricity
  • Responsible stewardship 
  • Partnership and collaboration 
  • Entrepreneurial thinking
  • Integrity, transparency, and accountability
  • We ascribe to the Donor Bill of Rights of the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) and the Code of Ethics of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).   We strive to ensure that these principles are incorporated into day to day activities and are fundamental to any new fundraising initiatives.

As a granting agency, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation values:

Flexibility to respond in a timely manner to the changing needs of the Faculty of Medicine and its faculty members.

The importance of program evaluation measured by the following criteria:

  1. Outstanding contributions to the body of scientific knowledge
  2. Growth in the Faculty’s capacity for research
  3. Improvements in patient care and treatments

Research mission addresses region’s top health priorities

Dalhousie Medical School is focusing its research resources and talent on the most pressing health concerns in the Maritimes – while building on existing strengths in four key areas: cancer, cardiology, neuroscience, and the overlapping fields of inflammation, infection and immunity.