Dalhousie University and Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) unite in a milestone integration.

By Jason Bremner and Dayna Park

For more than 40 years, Dalhousie and DMRF have shared a vision for health research in the Maritimes: to drive excellence in health and health care through world-class research and education.

To amplify their individual efforts, they formally joined forces in October 2022. This partnership has seen the two entities unite to create an expert team with a vision to collaboratively raise even more funds for health research and continue to support research excellence and promote healthy, strong communities.

The path ahead for health research

This integrated team is enhancing its efforts to support the incredible health research taking place across the university. Together, they will continue to build strong relationships and share stories about patients, physicians, researchers, students and donors who have a passion for health research with the potential to transform lives.

Over the years, DMRF and its donors raised more than $110 million and provided more than $70 million in support of health research at Dalhousie — including endowment of more than $75 million that will help to bolster research in this area in perpetuity.

“I want to sincerely thank the DMRF donors who have played an essential role in growing the research portfolio here at Dalhousie,” says Dr. David Anderson (MD’83), Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. “We look forward to strengthening these important relationships as we celebrate this milestone integration.”

With better funding opportunities and support for fac­ulty and students, and with focused and aligned strategic research priorities, the future is indeed bright for the health research community.

Long live the Molly Appeal!

Although this partnership has brought about some changes, an important feature of DMRF will continue: the lasting impact and legacy of the Molly Appeal.

If you’re from the Maritimes, you have probably heard of Molly Moore — or, more likely, of the Molly Appeal. It’s a local tradition that started more than 40 years ago when the single mother made a modest donation in support of health research at Dalhousie, suggesting that if everyone made a gift, together they could make a big difference.

Molly Moore, the inspiration for the Molly Appeal

The legendary Molly Moore inspired a Maritime tradition that has raised more than $9 million in support of health research. (Submitted photo)

In honour of Molly’s inspiring donation, DMRF created the Molly Appeal, which to date has raised more than $9 million in support of some of the most critical, groundbreaking health research in the region — including cancer, youth mental health, biomaterials development, COVID-19 and much more.

“She was not a well-to-do woman, but she was a hard worker with a heart of gold and she always helped others,” says Molly’s daughter-in-law Verna Moore, who says her family continues to take the tradition very seriously. “I’ll be 90 years old this coming November and, as long as I’m living, I’ll give to the Molly Appeal to help out like she did.”

When asked how she thinks Molly would feel about the impact of her generosity, Verna adds: “She would be amazed and very proud — like we are of her.”

The late Edith Stewart, mother of Dalhousie alum and faculty member Dr. Ronald Stewart (MD’70, LLD’17), also had a special place in her heart for the Molly Appeal.

“In her quiet way, she saved up her nickels and gave to the Molly Appeal for many years,” says Dr. Stewart. “Forgive the pun, but I think it appealed to her because she felt she could do her small part and make a difference.”

Dr. Ronald Stewart and his late mother Edith

Dr. Ronald Stewart and his late mother Edith – long-time supporters of health research at Dalhousie. (Submitted photo)

Edith would hear about his work in the medical field and the state of the health-care system during his visits back home to Cape Breton.

“Although she would say she wasn’t up on all the happenings beyond the Cape Breton Causeway, she always listened,” he says. “I think she felt a personal connection, through me, to the medical research world. But the fact that Molly Moore was a real person — and a Nova Scotian — made her an avid supporter of the Molly Appeal.”

Although she passed away at age 99, Edith Stewart lives on in her son’s memory, and her legacy of giving lives on, too.

The motivation that moves you

The health-care system in Canada, and those around the world, are challenged every day. Faced with the pressures of aging populations, labour shortages, an ongoing global pandemic and pervasive debilitating illnesses that continue to impact our friends, neighbours, communities and the globe, the task at hand can feel overwhelming. The enhanced focus on philanthropic support for health research at Dalhousie will hopefully make this a little less daunting.

Through this landmark integration, Dalhousie donors will continue to support projects that will have the greatest impact on our health and how patients are cared for, and more quickly mobilize our research successes to create real solutions to very real problems.

One thing that will never change is the enthusiasm and dedication of health researchers at Dalhousie. What gets them up in the morning? Knowing they have the support and encouragement of the university and its donors.

One of those keen researchers is Dr. Daniel Boyd, whose work is focused on the development of biomaterials in the areas of trauma, oncology, neurovascular interventions and hard tissue augmentation.

“DMRF was founded by caring community members who knew that health research is what advances health outcomes,” says Dr. Boyd. “Donors have bolstered the work of Dalhousie researchers for many years — researchers who are working tirelessly to find solutions to devastating health ailments, today and into the future. Our mission is your health, and ultimately, we come to Dalhousie to collaborate with some of the best minds in the world. Thank you for supporting health research at Dal.”

Video: learn more about the Dalhousie-DMRF integration

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