Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition

About the Coalition

A collaborative partnership to develop a COVID-19 response strategy has formed among NSHA Research & Innovation (Nova Scotia Health), Dalhousie University, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, the QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation, the IWK Foundation, the IWK Health Centre, the Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation (DGHF) and Research Nova Scotia (RNS). These partners have collectively committed $1.5 million to support the Nova Scotia research community. This research effort will inform the best COVID-19 practices and support healthcare decision making and planning that benefits the population of Nova Scotia.

Results of the Coalition Research Funding Call

A total of 262 applications were submitted from research teams across the province. The Coalition is pleased to announce that a collective investment of over $1.5 million will be distributed to 40 COVID-19 research teams.

Please join the Coalition in congratulating the funding recipients below.




Research teams



Clinical Sciences

Dr. Lisa Barrett

Project: Cellular Immune Phenotype in Patients with Severe COVID Disease Before and After COVID-19 Treatment

This study aims to better understand COVID-19 immune disruption and reversibility by examining global and SARS-CoV-2 specific immune dysregulation before, during and after therapy.

Amount: $75,000


Fighting COVID-19 in Nova Scotia’s Long Term Care Facilities

Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation’s Molly Appeal

Dr. Steven Beyea

Project: NeuroCOVID: a Prospective, Longitudinal MRI Examination of Brain Involvement in COVID-19

This study will use the new 0.5T Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner at the QEII Health Sciences Centre to determine whether evidence of brain abnormalities among COVID-19 inpatients is associated with the need for ventilation, and whether there are consistent features in the brains of COVID-19 patients that could inform treatment.

Amount: $74,647.69


Uncovering links between the brain and COVID-19: QEII research first in the world

Dr. Peter MacDougall

Project: A Comparison of Novel Integrated Gown, Hood and Face Shield (Halifax Gown) Personal Protective Equipment With Standard Personal Protective Equipment.

This study will test whether a new type of personal protective equipment (PPE) made in the Maritimes of reusable material can be put on faster and more safely than standard PPE.

Amount: $15,000

Dr. Kenneth Rockwood

Project: Understanding How Grades of Frailty Affect the Evolution of COVID

This study will investigate how differences in frailty and fitness among people being assessed for COVID-19 are related to the development, progression, and outcomes of the disease.

Amount: $73,000

Nova Scotia’s Clinical Frailty Scale used world-wide when making decisions about treating frail patients with COVID-19

Discovery Sciences

Dr. Stephen Bearne

Project: Screening of CTP Synthase Inhibitors to Augment Antiviral Drugs for the Synergistic Treatment of COVID-19 Infections

This study will rapidly assess the potential of active derivatives of known antiviral drug compounds to inhibit the production of one of the building blocks the COVID-19 virus requires to replicate itself.

Amount: $25,000

Dr. Stephen Beed

Project: A Device that Could Assist in Proning Anesthetized Critically Ill COVID-19 Patients

This study will develop and test a device to aid the safe repositioning of critically ill, heavily sedated, intubated, and/or pharmacologically paralyzed COVID-19 patients.

Amount: $10,700


Doctor’s innovation helps COVID-19 patients and nurses

Halifax doctor invents new device to help COVID-19 patients breathe better

Dr. Roy Duncan

Project: Development and Evaluation of Lead DNA Vaccine Candidates for COVID-19

This study will provide the necessary pre-clinical assessment and validation of second-generation SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates required to meet Public Health Agency of Canada and World Health Organization guidelines for ethical first-in-human clinical assessment on an expedited timescale.

Amount: $25,000

Dr. Roy Duncan speaks about a COVID-19 Vaccine – Part 1

Dr. Roy Duncan speaks about a COVID-19 Vaccine – Part 2

Driving Critical Covid-19 Research in the Maritimes

Dr. John Frampton
Mr. Gary Markle

Project: Innovations in Sustainable PPE Fabric: Local Solutions for a Global Issue

This study will develop a prototype textile that can be used to locally manufacture personal protective equipment such as surgical masks and respirators to deal with shortfalls in global supply chains.

Amount: $50,000

Working to develop locally produced, sustainable PPE

Dr. Todd Hatchette

Project: A Multiplex Platform for Higher Sensitivity Detection of SARS-CoV2

This study will develop a new, digital droplet polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) COVID-19 test and determine whether it is more sensitive than the existing real-time PCR test.

Amount: $44,000

Dr. Morgan Langille

Project: A Microbiome-Based COVID-19 Risk-Assessment Tool

This study will identify microbes associated with COVID-19 disease severity and create and assess the accuracy of a microbiome-based COVID-19 risk assessment tool.

Amount: $30,000

Dr. Craig McCormick

Project: Temperature Effects on Coronavirus Replication

This study will determine how temperature affects both coronavirus propagation and cellular response to infection, allowing for better interpretation of ongoing vaccine research.

Amount: $30,360

Driving Critical Covid-19 Research in the Maritimes

Dr. Glenn Patriquin

Project: COVID-19 Viral Shedding Study

This study will determine the optimal upper respiratory tract specimen for detecting virus in COVID-19 patients, the point at which the virus is no longer detected in infected individuals’ upper respiratory tracts, the point at which recovered patients are no longer infectious, and how antibody titres correlate with viral shedding and disease severity.

Amount: $25,000

Dr. Christopher Richardson

Project: Expression and Purification of the Spike Protein (S) of Covid19 Virus for Diagnostic Purposes and Production of Live Attenuated Viral Vaccines

This study will generate large quantities of coronavirus spike proteins that can be used to produce immune diagnostic kits and in subunit vaccines directed at COVID-19.

Amount: $25,000

Dr. Ana Sjaus

Project: Development of Airborne Pathogen Containment Device for Airway Instrumentation

This study aims to protect health care workers from contracting COVID-19 by developing a device that could be placed over potentially infectious patients like a ‘bubble’ to hold infected air during intubation.

Amount: $30,000

Dr. Amina Stoddart

Project: UV Disinfection Protocol for N95 Masks

This study will develop an approach to disinfect N95 masks with ultraviolet light so that they can be reused in the event of supply issues.

Amount: $31,673

A New Method of “Light” Cleaning for Critical Protective Equipment

Dr. Jun Wang

Project: Developing a Fast-Track COVID-19 Vaccine and an Antibody ELISA Assay with High Specificity and Sensitivity

This study will determine whether a pentavalent COVID-19 vaccine can be quickly developed by formulating SARS-CoV-2 antigen with a commercial quadrivalent influenza virus vaccine.

Amount: $35,000

Health Systems Improvement

Dr. Paul Amoyette

Project: Bowtie Analysis for COVID-19 Risk Reduction

This study will use a barrier-based risk management approach called Bowtie Analysis to develop a series of graphics to accurately and rapidly convey essential information on threats, consequences, prevention barriers, and mitigation barriers for the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Amount: $9,990

Dr. Fred Burge

Project: Primary Care and Pandemics: How Do We Get Care to Those Who Need It?

This study will use novel data mining approaches to analyze primary care electronic medical record data in order to better meet the needs of patients during and after the pandemic.

Amount: $35,000

DMRF Breakthrough Breakfast V (starts at 30:55)

Dr. Janet Curran

Project: Use of a Learning Health System Framework to Examine Quality and Safety Improvement at the IWK Health Centre During COVID-19 Planning

This study will use a Learning Health System framework to examine the IWK Health Centre COVID-19 pandemic planning work and identify strategies that we can use to be prepared for future pandemics.

Amount: $50,000

Dr. James Hughes

Project: Employing Hyperheurisitics to Provide Direction on Deployment of COVID-19 Tests and other Interventions

This study will employ a type of artificial intelligence called a hyperheuristic to provide direction on how to deploy COVID-19 tests, vaccines, or other interventions.

Amount: $42,000


Using AI to provide direction on deployment of COVID-19 tests and vaccines

EPISODE 8 – Coding COVID-19:  Computer Scientists Create Vaccination Strategies Using A.I. 

Dr. Margot Latimer

Project: Identifying the Occurrence Rate and Complicating Factors Related to a COVID-19 Diagnosis in the Mi’kmaq People of Nova Scotia

This study, co-led by Mi’kmaq community health leaders, will use a Mi’kmaq-developed health data linking registry to determine the prevalence and health experience of Mi’kmaq community members in Nova Scotia diagnosed with COVID-19.

Amount: $36,710

Dr. Constance MacIntosh
Dr. Matthew Herder

Project: Targeted Health Law & Policy Interventions for an Efficient, Effective and Equitable Response to COVID-19

This study will identify solutions that can be implemented to address health law- and policy-related deficiencies and gaps that have been caused or revealed by COVID-19.

Amount: $50,000

Dr. Mary McNally

Project: Dalhousie Faculty of Dentistry: Guiding the Phased Reopening of Primary Oral Health Care Service Delivery in Nova Scotia During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This study will determine what changes in practice will be required to ensure a safe return of the routine delivery of oral healthcare services to the Dalhousie University Faculty of Dentistry teaching clinic and to dental practices throughout Nova Scotia.

Amount: $25,000

Dr. Ashley Miller

Project: Right Care, Right Time, Right Place: Leveraging a Virtual Care Solution in the Delivery of Community-Based Care for COVID-19 Patients

This study will evaluate, refine, and implement a virtual patient-centered platform to guide COVID-19 patient care in the community, and examine clinical predictors of COVID disease progression.

Amount: $73,000


Launching virtual care solutions province-wide

What happens when you test positive for COVID-19 in Nova Scotia?

Global News Morning show host on his family’s fight with COVID-19

Innovation during COVID: The COVID Community Virtual Care Team

Dr. Ratika Parkash

Project: Physical Distancing and Medical Distancing: Reducing the Cardiac and Neurovascular Impact of COVID‐19

This study will investigate the degree to which Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 pandemic response has affected morbidity and mortality in patients with known or new onset cardiovascular or neurovascular disease.

Amount: $73,750


Crunching the numbers: QEII study looks at impact of COVID-19 pandemic on cardiac health

COVID-19 fears fuel rise in heart attacks in Nova Scotia

Dr. Nabha Shetty
Dr. Paige Moorhouse

Project: Internists Crisis Support for PCPs in LTC: making connections during COVID19

This study will develop and implement a “one stop shop” for medical specialist consultation by primary care providers working with long-term care residents to manage COVID-19 outbreaks ,with real-time evaluation of feasibility and effectiveness using an implementation science methodology.

Amount: $47,531.25

Dr. Karthik Tennankore

Project: Prevalence and Clinical Characteristics of COVID-19 Among Hemodialysis Patients

This study will describe and compare clinical characteristics of hemodialysis patients with known or suspected exposure to COVID-19 with those of hemodialysis patients with no known or suspected exposure to COVID-19, and describe the clinical outcomes of hemodialysis patients who develop COVID-19 with those who do not.

Amount: $43,103.36

Social Sciences

Dr. Katie Aubrecht

Project: Evidence to Assess the Impact of COVID-19 on Community-Based Dementia Care in Nova Scotia

This study will contribute to, clarify, and enhance the best evidence-in-the-moment about programs and supports for vulnerable older adults living with dementia and their caregivers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amount: $54,908


Evidence to assess the impact of COVID-19 on community-based dementia care in Nova Scotia

Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Katie Aubrecht

Dr. Yigit Aydede

Project: The Role of Environmental Determinants and Social Mobility in Viral Infection Transmission in Halifax

This study will analyze the relationships between COVID-19 transmission rates, meteorological and air quality, and the fluctuations in social mobility in Nova Scotia to allow for better calibration of spatial spread in simulation models that are used to inform policy making.

Amount: $36,900

Using machine learning to predict viral transmission rates in Halifax

Identifying the regional drivers of influenza-like illness in Nova Scotia, Canada, with dominance analysis

Sen Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard
Dr. Nancy Ross

Project: Culturally Responsive Healthcare to Reduce Gender Based Violence

This study will determine how lessons from the impact of COVID-19 can inform social policy and healthcare measures to better respond to gender-based violence (GBV) within the African Nova Scotian communities and how health care systems can incorporate culturally appropriate programming, resources, and services to support better responses to GBV and other adverse childhood experiences in African Nova Scotian communities.

Amount: $45,000

Dr. Karen Blair
Dr. Kathryn Bell

Project: The Ties that Bind: Interpersonal Relationships as a Source of Risk and Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This study will compare Nova Scotians’ well-being and coping during the COVID-19 pandemic with other jurisdictions, assess LGTBQ+ Nova Scotians’ well-being and coping during the pandemic relative to LGBTQ+ individuals in other jurisdictions, and examine Nova Scotians’ experiences with intimate partner violence during the pandemic in comparison to other jurisdictions.

Amount: $32, 559.99

Coping From Home: Study Highlights Interpersonal Relationship Risks During COVID-19

The ties that bind: interpersonal relationships as a source of risk and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic

Ms. Megan Brydon

Project: The Intrapersonal Traits Associated with a Person’s Willingness to Work with COVID 19 Patients (Resilience and Empathy)

This study will measure the degrees of ‘willingness’, resilience, and empathy among medical radiation and imaging department professionals, and examine the relationship between resilience, empathy, and willingness to persevere and adapt in times of crisis.

Amount: $3,000

Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo
Dr. Jon Dorling

Project: COVID-19 Impact of Neonatal ICU

This study will assess the needs of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) families at the IWK Health Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic, identify barriers and facilitators to implementing virtual care options for these families during the pandemic, and evaluate one potential virtual care platform for NICU families.

Amount: $50,000


Study Seeks to Assess Unintended Consequences of COVID‑19 Rules on Families with Babies in Neonatal Care

Dr. OmiSoore Dryden

Project: Don’t Count Us Out!

This study will identify the determinants of trust that African Nova Scotians have with the COVID-19 pandemic strategy and response, and demonstrate how race-based data collection during the COVID-19 pandemic can establish foundational capacity to extend race-based analysis to other health and health care issues.

Amount: $40,000

Driving Critical Covid-19 Research in the Maritimes

Researcher Snapshot: Dr. OmiSoore Dryden

Dr. Debra Gilin

Project: Preventing Burnout Among Front-Line Care Workers to Fight Covid-19: Screen and Intervene

This study will rapidly develop tailored screening and intervention tools to support mental health and prevent elevated job burnout or safety risks in COVID-19-responding health care staff in Nova Scotia.

Amount: $47,640

Preventing burnout among front-line care workers to fight covid-19: screen and intervene

Dr. Robert Huish

Project: The Consequences and Outcomes of Cultural Stigma from COVID-19 Ordinances

This study will examine the consequences and outcomes of cultural stigma from COVID-19 ordinances in three jurisdictions of Nova Scotia, New Zealand, and Australia.

Amount: $28,600


Positive Coronavirus Test? Canadians Worry Their Neighbors Will Find Out

New York Times article says Atlantic Canada is ripe for pandemic stigma

Dr. Susan Kirkland

Project: Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA):Building a COVID-19 Platform for Research in Canada

As part of the existing Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), this study will determine individual factors that increase risk of COVID-19 symptoms and severity, understand the impact of pre-COVID factors such as socioeconomic status on health outcomes, and assess the long-term health and social consequences of COVID-19 and associated mitigation strategies on older adults.

Amount: $35,000


How a Pandemic Affects the Experience of Aging Adults

Dr. Sandra Meier

Project: Use of an App to Determine Mental Health of Population and Health Providers During COVID

This study will link mobile sensing and clinical data to assess the impact of social distancing and counterbalancing behaviours on mental health during the COVID-19 crisis and 3 months later.

Amount: $50,000


Ask an Expert: Sandra Meier on the Importance of Maintaining Social Ties in an Era of Physical Distancing

Dr. Sandra Meier uses smartphone research to study impacts of COVID‑19

Dr. Ingrid Waldron

Project: A Culturally Specific COVID -19 Response Strategy for African Nova Scotians in the Prestons

This study will provide solution-oriented recommendations for how clinical services, health promotion, and the collection of disaggregated race-based health data can improve access to COVID-19 testing and health services, and reduce infections in the Prestons by identifying the social determinants that create exposure to and risk for COVID-19 infections and its exacerbation of current illnesses experienced by African Nova Scotians in the Prestons.

Amount: $75,000


Welcome to Canada’s Innovation Leaders 2020 (page 9)

Dr. Kyly Whitfield

Project: Exploration of Potential Impacts of the COVID-19 State of Emergency Measures on Infant Feeding in Nova Scotia

This study will assess the self-perceived stress of primary caregivers of infants under 6 months old, and how the COVID-19 State of Emergency has impacted infant feeding in Nova Scotia.

Amount: $9,918


Study Highlights Impact of State of Emergency Measures on Infant and Caregiver Well-being

Do the COVID-19 state of emergency measures impact infant feeding in Nova Scotia?

Press Release: New Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition responds to global pandemic with $1.5 million investment


Explore other COVID-19 research projects.