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Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation grants $50,000 to local mental health researcher

On Thursday, November 4th, the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) granted $50,000 at the very first Influencer Social at the Peggy Corkum Music Room in Halifax. At the event, three local health researchers each had ten minutes to pitch their mental health research project to an exclusive group of donors, the DMRF Influencers for Health Research. The Influencers then voted on which research study would be granted the $50,000, which is an accumulation of $25,000 from their giving, and a $25,000 match by DMRF.

“DMRF is committed to investing in research excellence, as are the donors that support their innovative work,” says DMRF CEO, Joanne Bath. “We are proud to introduce the inaugural DMRF Health Influencers Grant. This grant has been supported by a group of individuals across the Maritimes who care deeply about the impacts of local health research. Each year, we will be supporting a research area voted on by this Influencer group.”

The three researchers presenting their mental health-focused work included Dr. Abraham Nunes, Dr. Margot Latimer and research partner John Sylliboy, and Dr. Cynthia (Cindy) Calkin, who was chosen as the $50,000 grantee at the event.
Dr. Calkin’s research has recently answered a paramount question in psychiatric research. She and her team have found a correlation between insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) and more pronounced symptoms of psychiatric illness—specifically bipolar disorder. For the approximately 20,000 people in Nova Scotia alone living with bipolar disorder, these findings are helping to change their lives by treating a, before now, unrelated, and undiagnosed condition.

“Thank you so much to the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation and the DMRF Influencers,” Dr. Calkin says. “The vision and support of this group means so much and allows us to expand the study and ultimately treat more patients. I’m so grateful to receive this funding and to continue this important work.”

In an exciting announcement made by Bath during the event, it was shared that the other two researchers will also receive $10,000 grants toward their important projects.

The Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation created the DMRF Influencers for Health Research program to help foster a culture shift when it comes to philanthropy. Influencer donors are committed to improving health outcomes on a local, national, and global scale and fuel important health research that brings us closer to improved treatments, better access to healthcare, and cures for diseases.

DMRF has been supporting local health research for over 40 years and through innovative philanthropic opportunities, like the DMRF Influencers for Health Research program, they continue to drive health research outcomes across the Maritimes and beyond.
The event was live-streamed on Facebook and the recording can be watched here.

Dayna Park, Communications & Marketing Officer, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation
902.266.3930 |

Christena Copeland, Director of Communications, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation
902-441-8362 | christena.copeland@dal



August 13, 2020

DMRF is eager to address any concerns our donors may have regarding a recent security breach experienced by a third-party company we work with called Blackbaud, which is one of the world's largest customer relationship management (CRM) providers.

In May of 2020, Blackbaud discovered and stopped a ransomware attack. In a ransomware attack, cybercriminals attempt to disrupt the business by locking companies out of their own data and servers. After discovering the attack, Blackbaud’s Cyber Security team—together with independent forensics experts and law enforcement—successfully prevented the cybercriminal from blocking system access and fully encrypting files; and ultimately expelled them from their system.

While this cyber attack has affected many of Blackbaud's clients around the world, we have been assured by Blackbaud that DMRF donors were not affected. Blackbaud has taken great strides to ensure they are on top of such attacks and have already implemented changes to prevent this specific issue from happening again. DMRF will continue to monitor this situation as more information comes out and work with Blackbaud to ensure proper measures are being taken to protect your data.


Read Blackbaud’s statement here

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has an identity theft resource site available here

The Canadian Federal Government provides protection advice at

The ongoing safeguarding of your information remains a top priority for us. We know that cybercrime is a sophisticated and growing threat to all companies and sectors and have increased our focus on cybersecurity accordingly to ensure the personal information you share with us remains safe.

If you have further questions, please feel free to reach out to us at



Modifying 12 risk factors over the life course could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases

With Dalhousie University holding rank as one of the top leading institutions in frailty and aging research in the world, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) is proud to share the latest findings in the most recent report of the Lancet Journal. The Lancet is a world leading, independent, international weekly general medical journal that strives to make science widely available so that medicine can serve, and transform society, and positively impact the lives of people. 

This latest report finds that 40 per cent of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed by targeting 12 risk factors throughout life. Led by 28 world-leading dementia experts, including Dalhousie’s Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, the report builds on the 9 risk factors identified in the 2017 Lancet Commission [2], and provides an up-to-date analysis of the best evidence on the prevention of dementia. Dr. Rockwood, who is considered a top-rated frailty expert in the world, has long since been supported by DMRF donors and holds the prestigious the DMRF Kathryn Allen Weldon Professor of Alzheimer’s Research. 

Dr. Rockwood, along with the other dementia experts in this report, call for nations and individuals to be ambitious about preventing dementia and lay out a set of policies and lifestyle changes to help prevent dementia. Experts add excessive alcohol intake and head injury in mid-life, and exposure to air pollution in later life, to the list of key modifiable risk factors for dementia – expanding the number of preventable causes from 9 to 12 factors that span from childhood to later life. The report also highlights 9 recommendations for policymakers and individuals to help reduce risk, including providing primary and secondary education for all children, decreasing harmful alcohol drinking, preventing head injury, using hearing aids and protecting ears from high noise levels, and urgently improving air quality. The potential to prevent cases of dementia is high, and the biggest impact is likely to be seen in low- and middle-income countries where two-thirds of cases occur. Modifying 12 risk factors over the life course could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases, according to an update to The Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention, and care, which is being presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2020). Many of these are risks factors for frailty as well, and may help to explain why frailty makes it more likely that people who develop the abnormal Alzheimer proteins are more likely not just to have them, but for them to be visible as dementia.  


For years, Dalhousie researchers have worked to define and explore the concept of frailty as it relates to aging and dementia. Dr. Rockwood, and other local researchers like Drs. Olga Theou and Mary McNally, actively work to provide better models to measure levels of frailty in individual patients and to inform care appropriately. In particular, Dr. Rockwood and Dr. Arnold Mitnitski pioneered the Frailty Index that is used around the world to help measure a person’s health, taking into account how multiple health problems can interact to produce varying degrees of frailty. Using unique mathematical models, including those that led to the development of the world’s first Frailty Index, the ultimate goal is to improve quality of life for individuals, their families and their caregivers, while reducing the burden of frailty on global health care systems. 

“For decades, DMRF donors have actively supported research related to dementia,” explains Ms. Joanne Bath, Chief Executive Officer of DMRF. “That’s why the DMRF Kathryn Allen Weldon Professor of Alzheimer’s Researchwas established, so we could attract and retain outstanding talent like that of Dr. Kenneth Rockwood. Thanks to donor engagement and support, we can ensure that this world renowned research is happening right here, in our own community.” 

With worldwide statistics showing approximately 50 million people currently living with dementia and a projected increase to 152 million by 2050, this research, now more than ever, is critical. The good news is that lifestyle changes across the lifespan candecrease our chances of having this devastating disease, allowing us to live longer and with better health.  

"I am grateful to many generous donors, especially those who gave to Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, for supporting our work over many years,” says Dr. Kenneth Rockwood. “It allowed us to consider how frailty can drive the development of dementia. In doing this work, we have been able to help establish Dalhousie and the QEII as a leading centre in understanding frailty.  That work in turn contributed to helping to know how dementia might be prevented by improving the health of people as we age."

If you would like to support local life changing frailty and aging research that will have global impacts, please reach out to members of the DMRF team.


Ms. Alyssa Grace                            Ms. Joanne Bath               

Director, Philanthropy                       Chief Executive Officer




DMRF is committed to funding medical research excellence at Dalhousie Medical School.  Every day, exciting new developments are being made through the dedicated work of our world-class researchers - but there's more to the story than just that.  DMRF is the story of patients, donors, staff, and volunteers - along with our researchers.  The combination of these groups of caring individuals, who so passionately devote their time and resources to finding the causes, treatments and cures for life-altering diseases are the stories we want to tell.  Read on and keep checking back for more news and announcements about great medical advancements taking place here at DMRF - where breakthroughs begin.


HALIFAX, NS (April 17, 2020)

In this unprecedented time of local and global uncertainty, there has never been a greater need to conduct medical and health related research to collect real time evidence to inform practice, policy and decision making in this new pandemic environment. The Nova Scotia research community has come together to respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic with a $1.5 million collective investment in COVID-19 focused research.

The first-ever Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition has been formed to bring together research leaders and foundation partners from across the province. The Coalition includes:

Nova Scotia Health Authority
Dalhousie University
Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation
The IWK Health Centre
IWK Foundation
QEII Health Sciences Foundation
Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation, and
Research Nova Scotia

“Pandemics are never planned but require rapid response funding to save lives through treatment, vaccine and discovery research. This coalition funding is an essential part of the Nova Scotia pandemic response,” said Dr. Lisa Barrett, Clinician Scientist, Infectious Diseases, NSHA/Dalhousie University.  “We are grateful.” 

This Coalition’s funding commitment will support COVID-19 research that will inform health system decisions, facilitate vaccine development, identify novel treatments, develop devices, and influence social response to the pandemic. Funding will also leverage existing research capabilities to help rapidly respond to the urgent need to support further COVID-19 focused research right here in Nova Scotia.

“It’s wonderful to see the foundations come together to support COVID-related research,” said Dr. Jeannette Comeau, Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control, IWK Health Centre. “New research across many disciplines will help us face down this virus and transform our health system while we do it. This novel research will inform the strategies we use to build a resilient health system and ensure that we are ready to continue protecting and promoting the health of children, women and their families during the pandemic and beyond” said Comeau. “Research teams at the IWK are ready to seize this opportunity!”

Researchers can apply for funding, starting today (Friday, April 17). The deadline for applications is Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

The COVID-19 Health Research Coalition is dedicated to fostering a research environment that engages our academic partnerships and responds to the current needs of Nova Scotians and our health system, in addition to maintaining the expertise in innovative research, discovery science, population/social sciences, and health system improvement.

The Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition encourages others to join our collective efforts to support this urgent research and fund more grants. For more information about donating to these efforts please contact one of our Foundation partners.


“Nova Scotia Health Authority Research and Innovation recognizes the power of partnerships and is incredibly proud and humbled to be a part of this first ever coalition with the collective goal of improving health and healthcare for Nova Scotians through research.”

Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, Vice President and CNE, Research, Innovation & Discovery, NSHA

“This Coalition is all about working together for the greatest impact possible. The QEII Foundation is proud to be part of this important group who are united with one common purpose – to fund and rapidly facilitate the research that will stop COVID-19 in its tracks. As an organization who believes in the power of research and works closely with the donor community to advance care at the QEII, we are committed to making this happen

Bill Bean, President & CEO, QEII Foundation

“Dalhousie is incredibly proud to be working with our partners to make a difference,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. “There is a wealth of research expertise in this province, and by leveraging our collective strengths, we will have a significant impact on the fight against COVID-19 right here at home.”

Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President, Research & Innovation, Dalhousie University

“There is an urgent need to fast-track solutions to the COVID-19 crisis, and research holds the key,” says Joanne Bath, CEO, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation. “By coming together with our partners and working toward a shared mission, we can mobilize cutting-edge COVID-19 research here in the Maritimes, for the benefit of us all.”

Joanne Bath, CEO, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation

“It’s incredible to see so many organizations come together for this health research coalition. An effort like this marks a historical first for the province and we are proud to be making a difference through world-class COVID-19 research,” says Stephen Harding, President CEO of the Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation. “There is much opportunity to be explored in our fight against COVID-19, and our priority is to investigate the spread of this virus in our African Nova Scotian communities, like North and East Preston, and take immediate action to help these community members.”

Stephen Harding, President & CEO, Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation

“We are pleased to join with our partners to support the talented researchers across Nova Scotia who can have a positive impact on our economy, our health care system, and our vulnerable communities and populations,” says Stefan Leslie, CEO of Research Nova Scotia. “We have specifically targeted our funding to ensure that the opportunity is available to researchers throughout the province, along with their community and industry partners.”

Stefan Leslie, CEO, Research Nova Scotia

“The IWK Foundation is privileged to be working alongside our partners and our dedicated research community to make a powerful impact during this unprecedented time,” says Jennifer Gillivan, President & CEO, IWK Foundation. “Working together with a common goal truly strengthens our individual expertise. This is an essential investment in the health of our province, both now during COVID-19 and for our future.”

Jennifer Gillivan, President & CEO, IWK Foundation

About QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation

The QEII Foundation inspires generosity to advance health care at the QEII. With financial support from all levels of the community, the QEII Foundation helps fund new technologies, medical research, innovation and professional education that contribute to life-changing moments experienced every day by patients and their loved ones. By working together with people who share a vision of better health, the Foundation strengthens care delivered at the QEII, improving the health and lives of Atlantic Canadians.

About Nova Scotia Health Authority

Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) provides health services to Nova Scotians and a wide array of specialized services to Maritimers and Atlantic Canadians. NSHA operates hospitals, health centres and community-based programs across the province. Our team of health professionals includes employees, doctors, researchers, learners and volunteers. We work in partnership with community groups, schools, governments, foundations and auxiliaries and community health boards.

About Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University is Atlantic Canada’s leading research-intensive university. Located in the heart of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with an Agricultural Campus in Truro/Bible Hill, Dalhousie is a truly national and international university, with more than half of the university’s 19,000-plus students coming from outside the province. Dal’s 6,000 faculty and staff foster a diverse, purpose-driven community, one that spans 13 faculties and conducts more than $168 million in research annually. Part of a cluster identified as one of the world’s top international centres in ocean research, the university proudly celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2018.

About Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation

Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) exists to strengthen health research to positively impact health and wellness regionally, nationally and internationally. DMRF provides much needed support for researchers at Dalhousie’s Faculties of Medicine, Health and Dentistry by fundraising to attract the best resources available to bolster their leading-edge work. Collaboration is crucial to our success and we nurture strong relationships with research institutes across geographic borders that share our quest for innovative outcomes.

About Research Nova Scotia

Research Nova Scotia (RNS) is a not-for-profit corporation established to enhance research capacity and align research funding with provincial priorities. RNS invests in research that builds and translates knowledge to help ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for Nova Scotia.

About Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation

The Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation (DGHF) has been a driving force in connecting community and hospital since 1975. Through the tremendous generosity of community, friends and partners, the DGHF has positively impacted and supported the delivery of exceptional patient care at the Dartmouth General Hospital with more than $42 million dollars invested in equipment, facilities and programs since its inception. To learn more or donate, visit

About the IWK Health Centre

The IWK Health Centre is the Maritime region’s leading health care and research centre dedicated to the well-being of women, children, youth and families. In addition to providing highly specialized and complex care, the IWK provides certain primary care services and is a strong advocate for the health of families. The IWK is a global leader in research and knowledge sharing, and a partner in educating the next generation of health professionals. Visit for more information.

About the IWK Foundation

The IWK Foundation is a champion of excellence in women’s and children’s health and medicine and works in partnership with the IWK Health Centre to support their vision of providing quality care to women, children, youth and families in the Maritime Provinces and beyond. Our donors are passionately committed to making a difference for Maritime families, contributing more than $15 million in support of the most urgent care priorities at the IWK last year. Funds raised also support the IWK’s global leadership in research and knowledge sharing, which in turn improves lives worldwide.



MARCH 16, 2020: 

DMRF is committed to supporting health and wellness regionally, nationally and internationally. During this unprecedented time, that means taking every precaution in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

In light of recent developments with this novel virus, DMRF’s office will be closed until further notice, effective immediately. Please note that staff will continue to work remotely and will be available by phone and email to all donors, colleagues, partner organizations and the public. We will continue to monitor this situation closely as it evolves.

In addition to taking all necessary precautions against COVID-19, DMRF is committed to supporting world-leading research at Dalhousie that aims to develop vaccines, antiviral drugs and other therapeutics for novel coronavirus. 

To make a donation in support of this critical work, please click the “Donate Now” button below.


Donate Now


We appreciate your support, and look forward to seeing you soon.

Health to you and yours,







March 10, 2020


Researchers seek support to fund world-leading work in vaccine and antiviral drug development 


HALIFAX, NS, March 10, 2020— In response to today’s novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, Dalhousie researchers are pursuing the rapid development of vaccines and antiviral drugs, to curtail the outbreak on a global scale.


As an internationally acclaimed institution for research in infection, immunity, inflammation and vaccinology, Dalhousie is a global leader in the discoveries and development of new vaccines, antiviral drugs and other life-saving viral therapies. With a pipeline of world-leading research and development already established, Dalhousie researchers are seeking immediate support to fund work in this area, intended to stop coronavirus in its tracks.


“Our experts here at Dalhousie recently led the development of novel cancer-fighting viruses—now being used to treat melanoma—and brought the world’s first effective Ebola vaccine to human clinical trials at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, housed at the IWK,” says Dr. David Anderson, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University. “Drawing on our wealth of expertise and innovative science in this field, we believe we have what it takes to make significant contributions to the global battle against coronavirus.” 


Already taking swift action, Dalhousie researchers have quickly established a powerful research network of national and international experts, to maximize existing strengths, resources, and reach common goals, faster. 


“We’ve initiated a multi-pronged attack on coronavirus through the COVID-19 Research Network, with collaborators across Canada, in China, and across the world,” says Dr. David Kelvin, Canada Research Chair in Translational Vaccinology and Inflammation and Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Dalhousie University. “Several of our investigators worked on the 2003 SARS coronavirus and developed vaccines for that outbreak, while others are leaders in virology and immunology and have developed drugs to lessen diseases caused by varying viral infections. We are working around the clock to solve the novel coronavirus problem, but we cannot do this without proper funding support.”


In order to complete this critical work, Dr. Kelvin and his colleagues are urgently seeking support from the community. Public donations can support the development of vaccines and antiviral drugs for coronavirus, to curtail the current outbreak and prevent additional outbreaks in future.


To learn more, or to make a donation to world-leading research at Dalhousie in this area, visit or call (902) 494-3502.



Jill MacCannell

Communications Consultant, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation





Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) provides much needed support for 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 health research to positively impact health and wellness regionally, nationally and internationally. Collaboration is crucial to our success and we nurture strong relationships with research institutes across geographic borders that share our quest for innovative outcomes.