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The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Health System Impact Fellowships embed early career researchers within health systems across Canada. In this session, three Health System Impact fellows will briefly present their fellowship activities, reflecting on how they support Learning Health System (LHS) approaches in Nova Scotia. A panel discussion will follow the presentations. 

About the Speakers

A women with blond hair holding a toddler in her arms.

Dr. Mari Somerville

Health System Impact Fellow, IWK Health – Improving patient safety through LHS implementation


Mari is a CIHR Health System Impact Postdoctoral Fellow with IWK Health and Dalhousie University. Her program of research involves understanding the science of learning health systems and using these findings to implement evidence-based patient safety recommendations across IWK Health. Mari will share her recent work on applying a behaviour change framework to understand the root cause of precursor level safety events within the health centre.  Previously, Mari completed a Master of Public Health with an emphasis in Global Health and Nutrition, and completed her PhD at Griffith University in Australia. Mari also has a BSc in Nutrition and is a Registered Dietitian. 

Dr. Brittany Barber

Health System Impact Fellow, IWK Health – Advancing Environmentally Sustainable LHSs

Brittany is a CIHR Health System Impact Postdoctoral Fellow at IWK Health and Dalhousie University. Brittany completed her PhD at Dalhousie University where she investigated how to adapt health interventions for prevention of chronic diseases by applying geo-spatial methods and behavioural economic principles to collect spatiotemporal information about the contexts of patients’ day-to-day routines to strengthen behaviour change interventions. Her doctoral research provided expertise of interdisciplinary theory and methods for addressing complex health challenges, like integrating contexts of patients’ behaviours within clinical settings to improve design of health services. Working with IWK Health, Brittany is addressing environmentally sustainable health system change by improving implementation of data to advance a culture of rapid learning and effectiveness of low-carbon health service delivery. Her program of work advances implementation of environmentally sustainable learning health systems and contributes innovative ways of using real-time clinical and administrative data for informed decision-making in practice.


Young professional with brown hair and glasses.

Dr. Hilary Caldwell

Health System Impact Fellow, NS Dept. of Education and Early Childhood Development – Creating healthy, active schools

Hilary is a CIHR Health System Impact Fellow with the Healthy Populations Institute at Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Hilary studied Kinesiology at Dalhousie University and then completed her MSc and PhD degrees in Kinesiology at McMaster University. Hilary’s graduate research focused on physical activity, fitness, physical literacy and health in preschoolers and school-age children. From 2019-2020, Hilary completed a Health System Impact Fellowship (doctoral stream) with City of Hamilton Public Health Services. Hilary returned to Halifax in 2020 and is thrilled to contribute to projects and research related to health promotion in schools, child health and well-being, and healthy equity.

Keeping up with Knowledge Translation: Showcasing health System Impact Fellows Support for Learning Health Systems in Nova Scotia