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Our guest experts engaged in a thought-provoking conversation on how Dalhousie is building strong health outcomes through research.

The last few years have highlighted global gaps in health care—stark inequities, a prohibitive lack of reliable and accessible data, lags in the development, manufacturing, and delivery of vaccines and therapies, and more.

Dalhousie is the nexus of health-related research, education, and outreach programs in Atlantic Canada. With faculties of medicine, health, and dentistry, the university has a concentration of health disciplines that is one of the largest in the country and creates a vibrant and collaborative community of professionals who are dedicated to improving health outcomes and building strong health systems – through health education and more accessible care, and drive health research that finds solutions for individuals, populations, and health care systems.

Join the conversation to hear from our panelists on the research being done here in our own backyard. How it will improve access to health care education, harness the power of the immune system through the Immune Innovations Consortium, leveraging our world-leading research in infection, immunity, inflammation and vaccinology (I3V), and how care will be delivered in our communities. 

Recommended reading: Preview a sampling of the panelists’ perspectives on how they are closing gaps in the health care system and building strong outcomes through research. Read more.

About the speakers

Jeanette Boudreau is an immunologist with an interest in developing immunotherapies for cancer. Her research group uses high parameter imaging and quantitative techniques, together with genetic analysis, to define the features governing the immune response to cancer. Dr. Boudreau received her PhD from McMaster University and post-doctoral training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She is an associate professor appointed to the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and the Department of Pathology at Dalhousie, the Cameron Cancer Scientist, and the incoming Scientific Director for the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute.

Brendan Leung is a biomedical engineer specializing in biomaterials development and engineered disease models. He received undergraduate training in biochemistry and chemical engineering from the University of Ottawa and earned his Master’s and PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Toronto. Dr. Leung joined the Department of Applied Oral Sciences in the Faculty of Dentistry in 2016, and he was a recipient of the Dalhousie President’s Research Excellence Awards (Emerging Investigator) in 2022. His current research program focuses on the development of advanced tissue construct platforms and assay technologies to understand fundamental phenomenon that govern tissue homeostasis and maladaptation in human diseases.

Leigha Rock is an assistant professor and the director of the School of Dental Hygiene at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Dentistry. Dr. Rock is also cross appointed to the Department of Pharmacology and the Department of Pathology in the Faculty of Medicine. She is a scientist at the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute and holds a scientific appointment at Nova Scotia Health’s Department of Anatomical Pathology. The overall goal of her research is to facilitate discoveries that will advance early oral cancer detection biomarkers and identify effective intervention strategies to reduce the number of individuals with aggressive advanced stage disease. Her research focuses on emerging biomarkers and translational precision health approaches to the interception of the malignant transformation of oral premalignant lesions.

Kenneth Rockwood is a professor of Medicine (Geriatric Medicine & Neurology) and the Kathryn Allen Weldon Professor of Alzheimer Research at Dalhousie. A member of the senior leadership team at Nova Scotia Health, he is the inaugural lead of the Frailty & Elder Care Network. Dr. Rockwood has key roles on numerous studies in Canada and elsewhere. He received his MD from Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld. in 1985, and completed training in internal medicine at the University of Alberta in 1989 and in geriatric medicine at Dalhousie University in 1991.

He is a leading international authority on frailty.

Our moderator

Brenda Merritt is the dean of the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University, and associate professor in the School of Occupational Therapy.  Prior to becoming the Dean in 2019, Dr. Merritt served as the associate dean academic for four years. A hallmark of Dr. Merritt’s leadership is her collaborative, strategic, and engaging approach.

Dr. Merritt has conducted research within the areas of interprofessional health education, curriculum design and evaluation, and the development of innovative educational strategies to cultivate professional behaviour and clinical decision-making skills. Her research portfolio also includes investigating how chronic health conditions, injury, determinants of health, and/or environmental contexts impact a person’s ability to participate in chosen and necessary daily life activities.

Dr. Merritt is recognized as an international expert in teaching and using the Assessment of Motor and Process Skills to advance occupational therapy practice and research, having taught over 60 workshops in 8 different countries.