Research Nova Scotia is pleased to announce more than $2 million in funding for 21 research projects at eight Nova Scotia universities and healthcare centers through its New Health Investigator Grant.

The New Health Investigator Grant supports early-career health researchers who are engaged in work that aligns with the province’s health research priorities.  The grant aims to provide two years of support of up to $100,000 for researchers who are within the first five years of their academic appointment in Nova Scotia or who are new to the field of health research. Funding provided will support the establishment of independent programs of research, support and expand the research productivity necessary for obtaining long term funding from national and external agencies and expand the potential for early career investigators to make significant contributions in their field.  For the 2020-21 academic year, funding for this grant is provided by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.

$2,032,284

In Funding

21

Projects

8

Institutions

New Health Investigator Grant Recipients


Dr. Jamileh Yousefi
Assistant Professor, Business Analytics

Project: An Explainable Machine Learning to Dissect Geographical Disparities in Cancer Incidence and Mortality Rates in Canada

Lung and colorectal cancers are among the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Canada. However, cancer incidence and mortality rates are not distributed equally across Canada. In 2019, cancer cases and mortality rates per 100,000 in eastern provinces were 1.5 times higher than western provinces. The provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have the highest lung cancer rates among males in Canada (91 and 87 per 100,000, respectively). On the other hand, British Colombia and Alberta have the lowest lung cancer rates among males (53 and 60 per 100,000, respectively). These gaps raise the question: “why do such disparities exist?” There is uncertainty about the factors that may mediate the disparities in cancer incidence and mortality rates among eastern and western provinces. Identifying possible mediators associated with these cancer disparities can help us to develop a prevention strategy at the provincial level.

Through her research, Dr. Jamileh Yousefi and team intend to develop an explainable machine learning tool that can be used in research on all kinds of health care disparities. While this study will focus on developing a new method to identify mediators associated with geographical disparities in lung and colorectal cancer, the team anticipates producing a tool that can be used to study other types of health disparities. This direction builds upon and naturally combines Dr. Yousefi’s previous research experience in artificial intelligence, fuzzy systems, pattern recognition, and developing machine learning methods in the medical field. These fields of research play important roles in many health applications which include signal processing, clinical decision support tools, medical diagnosis systems, linguistic rule generation, to mention a few.

Funding amount: $100,000

Team members: Dr. Claudette Taylor & Andrew Hamilton