CBU researcher awarded Health Investigator Grant

Cape Breton University researcher Dr. Jamileh Yousefi is making a name for herself as an emerging health researcher. With an award of $100,000 from Research Nova Scotia, Dr. Yousefi’s research will focus on preventative healthcare by examining the geographical differences in cancer rates across Canada. Funding for this project is part of Research Nova Scotia’s New Health Investigator Grant program, supported by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness.

Dr. Yousefi, Assistant Professor of Business Analytics in the Shannon School of Business, will create an explainable machine learning application, providing a way to examine disparities in rates of colorectal and lung cancers across regions in Canada. Machine learning refers to a type of data science modeling, where Dr. Yousefi will create an algorithm for effective data analysis of rates of disease. The ability to translate complex data models into a language that can be broadly understood is the ultimate challenge and the expected outcome of the project.

“In 2019, studies showed eastern Canadians accounted for 1.5 times the number of cancer cases in these most prevalent cancers as compared to the western provinces,” explains Dr. Yousefi. She says identifying possible mediators associated with disparities may help identify proactive measures to improve the health outcomes for Nova Scotians.

“Socioeconomic factors such as income, education, employment, ethnicity, social and physical environment, geographical location and personal health practices contribute to varied experiences and outcomes for men, women and gender-diverse people. We aim to identify relationships between socioeconomic status and cancer incidence and mortality rates at the geographical level,” says Dr. Yousefi.

Dr. Tanya Brann-Barrett, Vice-President Academic and Research, says Dr. Yousefi is showing a commitment to CBU’s strategic priority to support the health of local communities.

“Dr. Yousefi’s work is such a wonderful example of CBU’s contribution to community health through research,” says Dr. Brann-Barrett. “We are thrilled that her work has been recognized by Research Nova Scotia with this funding award and look forward to the outcome of her work and its potential to inform health care.”

Student researchers will be involved in this project, demonstrating the focus on student mentoring that is such a fundamental element of the research environment at CBU. Over the course of two years, Dr. Yousefi will work with undergraduate and Master’s students, as well as a PhD student to support implementation and analysis.

Dr. Yousefi’s research experience is broad and covers many fields including machine learning, artificial intelligence, fuzzy systems and pattern recognition. These fields of research play important roles in many health applications including signal processing, clinical decision support tools, medical diagnosis systems and linguistic rule generation.

Congratulations Dr. Yousefi for this achievement!