Impact Report

2018 – 2019

40th Anniversary

Hello DMRF Donors

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: DMRF was formed. Now, four decades later, our Foundation not only funds research at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine – both in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick – but also at Dalhousie’s Faculties of Health and Dentistry.

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A message from our CEO

Brian Thompson Brian Thompson
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A message from our Board Chair

Allan Shaw Allan Shaw
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As an internationally acclaimed centre for research in Infection, Immunity, Inflammation and Vaccinology (I3V), Dalhousie is a world leader in the discovery and development of new vaccines, antiviral drugs and life-saving immunotherapies.

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Post-Doctoral Fellows and Graduate Student trainees are really the engines of research. As the ones that do the hands on experimentation, they are particularly valuable to accelerate our progress toward the clinic.

– Dr. Craig McCormick, Research Team Leader & Professor
Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Dalhousie University

Dr. Jean Marshall

Dr. Jean Marshall Dr. Jean Marshall
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Uplift for Healthier Generations

UpLift is a highly collaborative partnership designed to improve the health and learning of youth throughout Nova Scotia. Formerly titled Recipe for Health and Learning, the rebranded UpLift partnership aims to create environments for all children to achieve their highest potential, understanding that health plays a key role in learning and life.

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The generous estate gift provided by Miriam Hayman really enhances our ability to encourage healthier environments and behaviours for Nova Scotia’s youth. With increasing rates of conditions like obesity and diabetes threatening their health as they age, supporting health and learning in schools is particularly important.

– Margaret Kay-Arora, UpLift Project Manager
UpLift UpLift
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A Visionary Partnership, Continued

When the late Dr. Gerhard Zinser, Heidelberg Engineering’s Co-Founder, learned of the world-class ophthalmological research happening at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine nearly 30 years ago, he knew this was something he and his company had to get behind. A strong partnership ensued almost immediately between DMRF and Heidelberg Engineering, when Dr. Zinser and the company made a donation to Dr. Balwantray Chauhan’s leading-edge research in clinical and experimental glaucoma at Dalhousie. After years of steadfast support, DMRF was thrilled to announce last year that Heidelberg Engineering had pledged another five-years of support to Dr. Chauhan’s lab.

This pledge has allowed for the creation of the Dr. Gerhard Zinser Postdoctoral Fellowship in Opthalmology and Dr. Corey Smith is the first recipeient of this prestigious position.

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With continued efforts, we are working to be able to image individual neurons in the eye with unprecedented resolution. This will have wide- ranging benefits not only for the field of ophthalmology, but for neuroscience as well, with the eye being a very important part of the brain.

– Dr. Balwantray Chauhan, Mathers Professor and Research Director of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, Dalhousie University

Dr. Balwantray Chauhan

Dr. Balwantray Chauhan Dr. Balwantray Chauhan
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Dr. Corey Smith

The eye is an exquisitely complex organ, but is also easily accessible for imaging. This allows us to follow changes in diseases over time without performing invasive procedures. My research interest is developing imaging techniques, for better disease detection and prevention.

– Dr. Corey Smith, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Dalhousie University
Know Before You Go Know Before You Go

World-Class Mental Health Research, Right Here

Today, we see increasingly more stories on the news about mental health. It’s an important topic here in this region, throughout Canada, and across the globe.

At DMRF, we believe this is a key issue of our time. For us, it’s about more than just removing stigma; it’s about timely diagnosis, prompt intervention and better treatments. That’s why we’re supporting world-class, internationally competitive mental health research, right here in the Maritimes.

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Many patients with Bipolar Disorder go misdiagnosed for long periods of time, and often go through months or years of trial and error before they find the best treatment. We have a long way to go to closing these gaps in our understanding, and we believe genomics can get us there.

– Dr. Martin Alda, Professor & Killam Chair in Mood Disorders, Dalhousie University


When it comes to interventions in mental illness, Dr. Martin Alda and Dr. Rudolf Uher understand that time is of the essence. That’s why they’re studying the DNA of Bipolar Disorder in a trailblazing new project, with the hope of speeding up the process for successful diagnosis and treatment. Recently launched with the help of $250,000 in support from DMRF donors, Dr. Alda and Dr. Uher’s study will take place over the next three years at Dalhousie.

Dr. Rudolf Uher

Dr. Rudolf Uher Dr. Rudolf Uher
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Dalhousie’s Dr. Amy Bombay is renowned for her outstanding research in Indigenous mental health. Through her research, she is actively working to provide the evidence needed to change government policy and improve Indigenous mental health across Canada, and beyond.

Dr. Amy Bombay

Dr. Amy Bombay Dr. Amy Bombay
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Focusing on another vulnerable population, Dalhousie researchers are actively developing revolutionary resources aimed at improving youth mental health. With approximately 70 per cent of mental illnesses diagnosed before the age of 25, Dr. Yifeng Wei and her colleagues recognize that this is a critical period for mental health education. That’s why they’re using it to help prevent and address potentially life-changing and long-lasting mental illness.

Dr. Yifeng Wei

When it comes to mental health, we know that youth under 25 are vulnerable, and when we add the challenges of post-secondary life to this equation, the pot can boil over quickly. The KBYG online resource and teacher guide will enable grade 12 students to deal with life challenges successfully, cope with stress appropriately and get help when needed.

– Dr. Yifeng Wei, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University;
Interim Director of the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health Team (Teen Mental Health)

Awards: Research Grant Funding

Thanks to your support, over the last fiscal year DMRF paid out over $5 million in research award programs and grants. This support significantly impacts health research outcomes at Dalhousie, allowing our researchers more focused time to dedicate to their life-changing work. When our researchers succeed, health outcomes are advanced and we all benefit. Capital equipment grants, scholarships, fellowships, studentships, research chairs, and recognition awards allow us to attract and retain world-class talent, foster crucial collaborative partnerships and purchase vital equipment and research. We all bear witness to the difference your dollars make with every research breakthrough that comes to fruition. Together, we truly are better and we thank you for your continued support.

Research Grant Funding Research Grant Funding

Nearly 40 years ago,
the DMRF Molly Appeal began with
a single $5 donation. Since then, it has
been instrumental in fundraising
for lifesaving research at Dalhousie’s
Faculty of Medicine every year.

Molly Appeal Group Photo Molly Appeal Group Photo


This year, for the first time, DMRF launched a new spring Molly Appeal in response to the need for an essential piece of equipment for Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine researchers. Providing the ability to examine brain tissues with greater precision than its outdated counterparts around the world, the Leica HistoCore PEARL Tissue Processor is an indispensable tool in our researchers’ quest to understand, prevent and treat a variety of diseases and conditions.

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Patricia Colp & Dr. Sultan Darvesh

Patricia Colp & Dr. Sultan Darvesh Patricia Colp & Dr. Sultan Darvesh
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DMRF’s annual fall Molly Appeal was also immensely successful this past year, providing important funding toward state-of-the-art research equipment, as well as a new graduate-level training program. Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine is a leading international center for research innovation in Infection, Immunology, Inflammation and Vaccinology (I3V). Thanks to your generous support, Dalhousie’s first high-throughput imaging microscope, the ImageStreamX Mark II, will be up and running this coming fall, to help support this impressive multidisciplinary group.

Dr. Craig McCormick

Dr. Craig McCormick Dr. Craig McCormick
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Thanks to funds raised from the spring
Molly Appeal, the Leica HistoCore PEARL Tissue
Processor is already proving invaluable to
researchers at Dalhousie across multiple
disciplines, including neuroscience, cardiology,
cancer and immunology.

Training Program in Genome Informatics

A strong genomics revolution is also taking place, wherein researchers are working to crack the genetic codes that underpin disease. With DNA sequence databases growing faster than the number of personnel capable of processing their information, the fall Molly Appeal also sought out to generate funding for a new Training Program in Genome Informatics.

Dr. John Archibald

Dr. John Archibald Dr. John Archibald
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Frailty and Aging

Dalhousie researchers are world leaders in defining and exploring the concept of frailty. At home and across the globe, they are actively working to provide better models to measure levels of frailty in individual patients and to inform care appropriately. 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.

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Dr. Kenneth Rockwood

Dr. Ken Rockwell Dr. Ken Rockwell
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These findings point us in a new direction when it comes to fighting Alzheimer’s disease. Where current drugs targeting plaques and tangles have not been effective, our study suggests that targeting frailty can have a greater impact. This is good news, as there is a lot one can do to prevent frailty.

– Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, Dalhousie University,
Kathryn Allen Weldon Endowed Chair in Alzheimer Research

Breakthrough Breakfast Update

On Wednesday, November 7th, 2018, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation celebrated our third annual Breakthrough Breakfast event, with over 400 guests – our biggest turnout yet. Undoubtedly, the Breakthrough Breakfast is about more than eggs and coffee. It’s about celebrating global research excellence happening right here in the Maritimes, and the individuals and families this very research is intended to benefit.

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Dalhousie’s Facilities of Medicine, Health and Dentistry attract, retain, and develop world-class talent and that’s what the DMRF Breakthrough Breakfast is all about: celebrating global research excellence that is happening right here, in the Maritimes.

DMRF Breakthrough Breakfast

DMRF’s 4th Annual Breakthrough Breakfast!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 | Cunard Centre, Halifax | 7:30 – 9:30am
One ticket: $100 | Table of 8: $800

To purchase tickets in advance, please contact Beth Phillips at or 902-494-1610

Breakthrough Breakfast Group Photo Breakthrough Breakfast Group Photo

Future Forward

Through your giving, DMRF is responding to the shifting paradigm of health issues in our region and beyond.

Here we feature a snapshot of just a few health researchers whose innovative work has entrepreneurial underpinnings and a view to changing the future of health as we know it.

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  • Dr. Christine Chambers

    Dr. Christine Chambers

    Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Children’s Pain, Killam Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychology & Neuroscience Dalhousie University

  • Dr. Daniel Boyd

    Dr. Daniel Boyd

    Associate Professor, Department of Applied Oral Sciences, School of Biomedical Engineering Dalhousie University, Co-founder, ABK Biomedical

  • Dr. Debbie Martin

    Dr. Debbie Martin

    Tier II Canada Research Chair Indigenous Peoples Health and Well-Being Associate Professor, Health Promotion, Dalhousie University