Dalhousie grows its ranks of Canada Research Chairs – Dal News

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January 12, 2022
They stand at the centre of Canada’s strategy to become a global leader in research and development. With the goal of enabling Canadian universities to achieve the highest levels of research excellence, Canada Research Chairs (CRC) are selected for their potential to make an impact now and in the future — and Dal just welcomed four more.
The federal government announced Wednesday that Drs. Mohammad Hajizadeh of the Faculty of Health, Carlos Hernandez-Castillo of the Faculty of Computer Science, and M. Ruth Lavergne and JianLi Wang of the Faculty of Medicine as Dal’s newest CRCs, bringing the total number at the university to 56.  Also announced was the renewal of CRCs Drs. Rachel Chang of the Faculty of Science and Morgan Langille of the Faculty of Medicine, a recognition of the valuable work they have already produced.
The CRC program invests up to $295 million per year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. There are two types of Chairs. Tier 1 Chairs last seven years and are awarded to outstanding researchers who are leaders in their fields. Tier 2 Chairs last five years and are awarded to exceptional emerging researchers with potential to be leaders.
“Our newest Canada Research Chairs are focused on improving the health and wellbeing of Canadians, from Drs. Hajizadeh and Lavergne’s work to increase equitable access to care, to Dr. Hernandez-Castillo’s research on using AI to identify patterns in medical imaging, to Dr. Wang’s work to predict and prevent depression and suicide,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Vice President Research and Innovation. “We are proud they have chosen Dal. Their work will advance the depth of our knowledge and the quality of our lives.”

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Health Economics

Working to reduce inequalities in healthcare
Equity in health and healthcare has been a long-standing policy objective both within Canada and globally. Policymakers are challenged to reduce health inequities due to a limited understanding of how to effectively influence the social determinants of health. Dr. Hajizadeh’s research program will use cutting-edge interdisciplinary methods to examine socioeconomic inequalities in health and healthcare and their causes, as well as the effects of health and public policies on health and healthcare equity. The overall aim of their research program is to inform policymaking that reduces inequities in health and healthcare.

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Artificial Intelligence for Health

Using artificial intelligence to identify patterns in medical image data
Advances in medical imaging have expanded the application of radiology to a vast range of medical conditions, including conditions that affect the brain. However, the complexity of medical images means that physicians require better automation to support diagnosis, assessment of prognosis, and evaluation of treatment. With this goal in mind, Dr. Hernandez Castillo will develop new statistical and artificial-intelligence techniques to identify patterns in medical image data that reflect conditions such as motor impairment, brain tumors, and cognitive effects of brain damage during development.

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Primary Care

Strengthening primary care and reducing disparities in access
Quality primary care is key to effective, efficient, and equitable health systems. The goal of Dr. Lavergne’s research is to strengthen primary care and address disparities in access. Her research involves analyzing routinely collected data from health care delivery to explore how people access care and to examine the impact of policy changes. To help ensure that her research asks questions that matter, with results that will guide improvements to health care systems, Dr. Lavergne’s research teams include patients, care providers, and people who plan health services.

Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Health Data Science and Innovation

Improving predictive tools to prevent depression
Depression is a leading disease burden worldwide. Each year, over 1.3 million Canadians experience a major depressive episode. Each week, over half a million Canadians are off work due to depression. One of the severe consequences of having depression is suicide. Dr. Wang’s multidisciplinary research team will develop advanced risk predictive tools to help early prevention of depression and suicide, enhance the efficiency of mental health service delivery, and improve population mental health planning. Working closely with relevant stakeholders they will build a knowledge base that will guide the implementation of the predictive tools to ensure they have meaningful impact on people and the mental health system.

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Atmospheric Science

Improving our understanding of air quality
Particles in the atmosphere can impact air quality and climate. Dr. Chang studies how the sources of these particles, whether continental or marine, polluted or clean, affect the formation and intensity of coastal fog events. Dr. Chang also studies the chemical composition and sources of particles in the Arctic throughout the year. This is important because as the Arctic summer sea ice melts and industrial activities increase, manufactured sources of particles will dominate over natural sources even in summer. This work will help us understand how particles affect air quality and climate, and how their effects can be predicted and controlled to the benefit of society.

Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Human Microbiomics

Finding a better way to predict the risk of cancer
The focus of Dr. Langille’s research is to better understand human-microbial interactions in order to improve human health. This includes health-focused analysis of clinical and population-based data sets while developing new bioinformatics and statistical methodologies. Dr. Langille’s specific attention is on novel biomarkers for cancer prediction that could have clinical use in early diagnosis, treatment outcomes and monitoring.
More information about the Canada Research Chairs can be found here.
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