Research Nova Scotia invests $250K in Dalhousie University Research Team for Emerging Poxvirus Surveillance

June 19, 2023 (Halifax, NS) – Dalhousie University researcher Dr. David Kelvin, is launching an $850,000 research project to strengthen global and regional health security through the surveillance of emerging poxviruses in humans, domestic animals, livestock living around humans, as well as wildlife. Research Nova Scotia is investing $250,000 in the project, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is providing $500,000, and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences is providing $100,000 in-kind.

“With the emergence of Mpox viral outbreaks and epidemics, it’s necessary for us to understand the sociological and scientific factors that play a role in the encroachment of human populations on wildlife,” explains Dr. Kelvin. “This is leading to increased exposure and increased chances of infection which is why it’s important to better understand poxvirus ecology.”

“Tracking and understanding the rise of new viruses around the world will help Nova Scotia be ready for the next pandemic, and prevent dangerous illnesses from affecting our people, livestock, and wildlife. This is an important part of Research Nova Scotia’s commitment to strengthening the resilience of our public health systems,” says Stefan Leslie, CEO of Research Nova Scotia. “Working with the research team allows us to focus on outcomes that support provincial needs and maximize the benefit to society while identifying efficiencies and connections.”

The RNS investment builds on a growing expertise in health and environmental surveillance research in Nova Scotia. Dr. Kelvin’s project team will work with Dr. Graham Gagnon and his team at the Centre for Water Resources to employ specialized water testing equipment, which received $1.1 million in funding from RNS earlier this year.  

“The outcome of the two-year project will provide a comprehensive map of the state of Mpox and Orthopox viruses in central Africa and Nova Scotia,” explains Dr. Kelvin. “This information will support policy makers to prepare for emerging poxviruses, enabling quick responses to reduce their spread and impact,” added Leslie.

To undertake this multidisciplinary approach to understanding poxviruses, Dr. Kelvin has assembled an international team of clinicians, scientists, wild-life experts, entomologists, veterinarians, farmers, sociologists, students, government policy makers, and government officials in Africa, and Canada. Poxviruses are most likely to emerge from these regions, where there is close contact between humans and animals. The team includes investigators from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Burundi who will work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health in Rwanda to conduct ongoing surveillance of emerging infectious diseases.

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Stephanie Reid
Director, Marketing & Communications
Research Nova Scotia

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Dalhousie University

Research Nova Scotia
Research Nova Scotia supports, organizes, and coordinates research. With the curiosity to imagine a better world, and the determination to make it real, we champion the people and resources needed to improve the lives of Nova Scotians. Learn more at