Celebrating Women

DMRF is eager to showcase just some of the outstanding work of women researchers in our faculties of medicine, health, and dentistry. These researchers are acclaimed both nationally and internationally and make trailblazing impacts to health and healthcare; that's good news for all of us as we strive to address the many health conditions and illnesses facing our communities locally and abroad.

Assistant Professor, School of Nursing , Department of Psychiatry

Amy Bombay is an Ojibway (Rainy River First Nation) researcher who completed her MA (2008) and PhD (2012) at Carleton University in Psychology and Neuroscience, and recently completed a 2-year CIHR Fellowship at the University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research. In July 2014, Amy joined Dalhousie University as an Assistant Professor in 2014, at the Department of Psychiatry and the School of Nursing. She has led and been involved in various quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods projects investigating factors related to well-being and mental health among Indigenous adults and youth living on- and off-reserve. Her primary areas of inquiry have focused on exploring the relationships between historical trauma, contemporary stressor exposure, and stress-related pathology among Indigenous peoples in Canada. Learn more by reading this CBC article from May 2018.




Professor of Health Promotion and Scientific Director of the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie University.

Sara’s research seeks to understand how we can create supportive environments for chronic disease prevention. Her research uses a ‘socio-ecological’ approach that takes into account how individual behaviour is influenced by broader factors, such as income, education and societal norms. She has led or collaborated on several nationally funded projects that focus on the creation of supportive environments for health promotion in different settings, including in schools. One such initiative, named Uplift, will be inplemented into many schools across Nova Scotia this Fall.  Check out upliftns.ca for more information on this groundbreaking program!







Associate Professor, Department of Pathology , Department of Microbiology & Immunology 

Dr. Paola Marcato is a well-established cancer researcher who graduated with a PhD in Bacteriology from the University of Alberta in 2004, completing her post-doctoral training in Dr. Patrick Lee's laboratory at Dalhousie University.  Notably, Dr. Marcato later discovered a novel breast cancer stem cell marker, which was the basis for the start of her own laboratory at Dalhousie University in 2012, where she still practices today. The research projects in her laboratory have the long-term goal of developing improved therapeutic strategies for breast cancer based on a precision medicine approach




Professor, Department of Pharmacology , Division of Geriatric Medicine 

Dr. Howlett is best known for her work on cardiac contraction. She has discovered profound differences in the way male and female heart cells function and how this changes with age. She has pioneered the measurement of frailty with a "frailty index" in aging animals, a major advance that will help translate scientific discoveries in aging research into meaningful clinical interventions.

Dr. owlett is co-chair of the Cardiovascular Research Group (CVRG). The CVRG is a multidisciplinary group of Dalhousie-affiliated clinical and basic science researchers who are involved in studying cardiovascular biology, cardiovascular disease and health issues. Click here to visit their site and learn more!



Division of Gastroenterology, Professor, Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Children's Pain, Department of Pediatrics , Department of Psychology and Neuroscience , Department of Anesthesia, Pain Management & Perioperative Medicine , Department of Psychiatry , School of Nursing 

Dr. Christine Chambers is a clinical psychologist and Professor. Her research, based in the Centre for Pediatric Pain Research (IWK Health Centre), examines developmental, psychological, and social influences on children’s pain, with a focus on the role of families in pediatric pain, patient engagement, and partnerships for knowledge mobilization. Her work spans knowledge generation (e.g., original studies), knowledge synthesis (e.g., systematic review, guidelines), and knowledge translation (e.g., policy, public outreach). For more information about her groundbreaking research, visit The Centre for Pediatric Pain .




Endowed Soillse Research Scientist in Prostate Cancer Quality of Life Research Assistant Professor, Soillse Prostate Cancer Quality of Life Research, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology , Department of Urology , Department of Psychology and Neuroscience , Department of Radiation Oncology 

Dr. Ilie’s substantive interests are in the areas of prostate cancer health related quality of life measures, patient-reported outcomes, population health, mental health, substance use, concussions and traumatic brain injury, injury prevention, and health policy. She is particularly interested in the intersection of chronic illness and various patient-reported disease-specific and health related quality of life outcomes, with a special emphasis on adolescents, adults and aging. Learn more about her pioneering work in prostate cancer quality of life research by visiting the Soillse website.




Professor, Cross-Appointment Department of Pathology

Dr. Paola Marignani is on a mission to help identify and develop new cures for cancer, precisely targeted to the specific molecular profile of each individual patient's cancer. In collaboration with other researchers, Dr. Marignani strives to find molecular mechanisms that can be targeted to stop cancer, and to develop new ways of analyzing and characterizing patients' cancers so that treatments can be customized with precisely targeted therapies.In her lab, Dr. Marignani is unravelling how "stop and go" proteins called tumour suppressors and oncogenes instruct cancer cells to stop or start growing. She and her team have found that a stop protein called LKB1 helps keep certain breast and lung cancers at bay. Based on this discovery, they've developed experimental models that have led them to promising potential treatments. 

Professor,Department of Pediatrics 

Dr. Noni MacDonald is a Professor of Paediatrics (Infectious Disease) at Dalhousie University and at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. She is a former Dean of Medicine at Dalhousie University (1999-2004); the first woman in Canada to become a Dean of Medicine.Dr. Macdonald's academic interests are vast, focusing largely on vaccines, including vaccine safety, hesitancy, pain mitigation, education and policy including consulting work with the World Health Organization. She also focuses on MicroResearch which involves building capacity in community focused research in developing countries  and also in Nova Scotia to help interdisciplinary health professionals find local solutions for local maternal child health problems that fit the context, culture and resources. For more information, visit the the World Health Organization website.


Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology 

Dr. Marshall has a long term interest in the biology and function of mast cells in host defence and disease.  This includes study of mast cells in models of viral infection, cancer and allergic disease such as asthma and food allergy. Her work often involves multidisciplinary teams of scientists and multiple research trainees. Her research is of such high calibre that she captured Canada’s top academic prize in her field, the Bernhard Cinader Award, in December 2018. She is the first Dalhousie faculty member to receive the prestigious prize, given annually by the Canadian Society for Immunology (CSI) to a “Canadian scientist who exemplifies distinguished scientific leadership and accomplishments in immunology.” Read article on this great achievement, here.





Assistant professor, Senescence Aging Infection & Immunity Lab (SAIL), Division of Infectious Diseases , Department of Medicine , Department of Microbiology & Immunology , Department of Pathology 

Dr. Lisa Barrett is passionate about improving health in aging individuals. Clinically, she is also interested in treating viral infections in underserved and incarcerated populations. T

Led by Dr. Barrett, the Senescence, Aging and Infection and Immunity Laboratory (SAIL) is focused on improving health in aging individuals. There, they use a bedside to bench approach where clinical studies help answer basic science questions about the immune system. In particular, their research is aimed at investigating links between immune aging and chronic viral infections. Their goal is to improve health in aging individuals by discovering targets that can enhance immunity. SAIL brings together clinical and basic science expertise to facilitate a comprehensive human immunology program. Their program is focused on understanding the mechanisms of immunologic aging that lead to poor clinical outcomes in chronic viral infection and the elderly.

Vice-president, research & innovation

Dr. Alice Aiken is the Vice President – Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Previously, she was the Dean of the Faculty of Health. Prior to arriving at Dalhousie, she was a professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University. While there she co-founded and was the Scientific Director of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research. Her research includes health services / health policy and has a unique focus on health systems transformation and evidence-informed policy-making.

Dr. Aiken is currently the Vice Chair of the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Dalhousie representative on the Board of Research Nova Scotia. She is also elected to the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Aiken has been awarded the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Chapel of the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Bronze Medallion (USA), and most recently, she was made a Dame of the Order of St. George.