Shining a light on research

Faculty of Health Professions opens research centre

- October 24, 2007

David Westwood and Fred Wien are two of the Faculty of Health Professions researchers attracting notice.

On the same day that the Faculty of Health Professions flung open the doors to a new home for research at Dalhousie, it took the time to reflect on recent research successes.

“We’re off and running in terms of research,” says Associate Dean George Turnbull, in the Faculty of Health Professions. “From aboriginal health to obesity to health policy, research is just exploding in our faculty and we wanted to celebrate.”

The new centre is called Applied Research Collaborations for Health, ARCH for short, an interdisciplinary research group which makes its home in a Victorian house at 1318 Robie Street.

One of the researchers based there is Sara Kirk, Canada Research Chair in Health Services Research. Dr. Kirk’s research explores how health services can better help people to arrive at and maintain healthy weights and lifestyles. Her work will lead to greater understanding of the management and prevention of obesity in Canada, with an emphasis on strategies involving new technologies for health-care delivery.

Dalhousie President Tom Traves and Dean Will Webster confer at a special event held last Wednesday to celebrate the Faculty of Health Professions’ research successes.

“My research program is specifically related to obesity management and prevention, but ARCH arose through a desire to keep things broad, within the context of health research,” says Dr. Kirk.

The newly renovated space is bright and open, boasting gleaming hardwood floors and marble fireplace mantles. It provides meeting and office space for several professors and graduate students.

“When you look around, you’ll see the only equipment some of our researchers need are computers, travel budgets and questionnaire forms,” says Dr. Turnbull. “And yet, this research is as important as the work done with high-powered microscopes and other expensive equipment. That’s why I wanted to shine a light on all the good work going on.”

In recent months, professors with the Faculty of Health Professions have attracted more than $6 million in external funding. Besides Dr. Kirk, other researchers honored at the event last Wednesday include:

  • Brenda Beagan, associate professor with the School of Occupation Therapy, was recently awarded a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Women’s Health. Her research seeks to understand how the social determinants of health operate to affect women’s health. (See related story: Three New Canada Research Chairs for Dal)
  • Remigius Agu, assistant professor with the College of Pharmacy, was awarded $315,000 from the Canada Foundation of Innovation to support his work in the development of new drug delivery systems. (See related story: A nose for success)
  • Neil McKinnon, associate professor with the College of Pharmacy, has been named a Harkness Associate, a fellowship administered by the U.S. Commonwealth Fund and the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation. Dr. MacKinnon is studying whether government and private payer drug policies improve safety and quality or unintentionally contribute to the problem of medication mistakes.(See related story: Ending medication mistakes.)
  • David Westwood, assistant professor in the School of Health and Human Performance, was awarded a New Investigator Award through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The award of $300,000 over five years will allow Dr. Westwood to focus on his research, understanding how humans control their movements, characterizing functional abilities in disease and developing theoretically motivated rehabilitation strategies. (See related story: Research in motion)
  • Fred Wien, professor with the School of Social Work, and Charlotte Loppie, assistant professor with the School of Health and Human Performance, have been awarded $600,000 a year for six years from CIHR Atlantic Aboriginal Health Research Program. Their research aims to improve the quantity and quality of research in aboriginal health in the Atlantic region. (See related story: 'Knowledge is power'


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