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.


In Funding





New Health Investigator Grant Recipients

Dr. Jon Dorling
Neonatologist & Division Head, Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine

Project: Preterm Infant Gut microbiome Associations With Environment and Outcomes in the NICU (PIGEON)

The gut microbiome is a complex community of bacteria and fungi that forms in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract shortly after birth. It plays a vital role in the functioning of a healthy GI tract by supplying nutrients and inhibiting the growth of unhealthy, harmful bugs and is also important in the development of immunity with important long-term health implications. The formation of the gut microbiome after birth is influenced by things that happen in early life such as type of birth, skin to skin and other family contact, feeding milk type (breast/formula), antibiotics and other environmental factors. Preterm infants are particularly vulnerable and at higher risk of altered microbiome colonization after birth due to being born early. Through his research, Dr. Dorling and team will assess the effect of important exposures on the microbiome including prolonged skin to skin contact at birth, milk supplementation with lactoferrin, full feeds from day 1, antibiotic exposure and how much time the parents spend and interact with their baby.

Funding amount: $99,625

Team members: Dr. Andrew Stadnyk, Dr. Ketan Kulkarni, Dr. Singh Balpreet, Dr. Dunn Katherine, Dr. Jeannette Commeau & Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo

Dr. Azar Mehrabadi
Department of Pediatrics

Project: Mode of delivery following a previous cesarean birth: identifying risk factors for maternal and neonatal morbidity

Funding amount: $99,764

Dr. Sandra Meier
Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Project: An App Responding to Behaviour of People to Promote Mental Wellbeing in Anxious Youth

Anxiety disorders are common mental health problems, for which hundreds of Nova Scotians seek care each year. Typically developing early in childhood or adolescence, many patients experience a relapse or chronic course of their anxiety disorder often resulting in substantial impairment across the lifespan. While there exist effective treatment options, most youth with anxiety disorders do not receive adequate health care. A recent provincial study suggested that only one third of youth with severe anxiety symptoms are currently undergoing treatment. Mental health apps might present themselves as particularly promising alternatives for treating anxiety disorders as these apps are highly cost effective and easily accessible; youth can use them whenever and wherever they want. However, often youth are not making use of the currently available mental health apps as they perceive them as too complex and impersonal. Through her research, Dr. Sandra Meier and team hope to better engage youth with anxiety disorders in the usage of mental health apps by designing an app that is easy to use and can be personalized to youth’s needs. The successful completion of this research proposal will result in the creation of novel treatment tool for youth who do not require in-person care for their anxiety.

Funding amount: $100,000

Team members: Dr. Rita Orji, Dr. Alexa Bagnell, Dr. Lori Wozney, Dr. Fernando Paulovich, Dr. Patrick McGrath & Dr. Evangelos Milios