Research Networks

Sharing resources and expertise

Please click to expand:


BRIC NS—Building Research for Integrated Primary Healthcare in Nova Scotia—is a research network that seeks to improve primary healthcare and integrated services for people with, or at risk of developing, complex healthcare needs. BRIC NS research is patient-oriented, which means it engages patients as partners and focuses on patient-identified priorities and improves patient outcomes.



  • building capacity in Nova Scotia for the conduct and application of patient-oriented research

  • mobilizing research efforts and encouraging investigators to apply for funding available to network members

  • creating partnerships within and across various sectors of the health care system—including public health and primary health care, as well as secondary, tertiary, home and long-term care

  • looking outside the health sector to forge new connections with such important services as education, housing and social services

  • developing connections with counterpart networks in other provinces

  • leading the way to more comprehensive approaches to improving individual and population health, health equity and health system outcomes

  • engaging patients as partners in our governance and research projects


BRIC NS is the Nova Scotia Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovations Network, an initiative of the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). BRIC NS has $1 million in funding over 5 years from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (NSHRF). Additionally, BRIC NS has facilitated the funding of multiple primary healthcare research projects.

BRIC NS has a tri-partite leadership model to ensure that science, policy and practice are working together to identify and support priority-driven research.

  • Science Lead: Fred Burge, Department of Family Medicine, Dalhousie University

  • Clinical Lead: Rick Gibson, Primary Health Care and Department of Family Practice, Nova Scotia Health Authority

  • Policy Co-Lead: Lynn Edwards, Senior Director, Primary Health Care & Chronic Disease Management, Nova Scotia Health 

  • Policy Co-Lead: Denise MacDonald-Billard, Project Executive (Senior Director), Primary Health Care Branch, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness

BRIC NS members include individuals from across the province who have a research interest in primary and integrated healthcare. This includes primary care practitioners, researchers, decision-makers, citizens and learners. To learn more about BRIC NS, including how to join, visit the website.

Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN)

Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN)

The MaRNet-FP/CPCSSN team

Principal investigator: Dr. Mathew Grandy
Co-investigator: Dr. Fred Burge
Data Manager: Sarah Sabri                             
Project Manager: Dr. Anders Lenskjold

The Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN) is an electronic medical record (EMR) based information system established for chronic disease surveillance.

Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) until 2015, it has brought together 10 community-based primary care research networks (PBRN) across the country (see figure 1) and institutional partners including academic research centres and departments, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). 

Each PBRN collects EMR data from participating family practices within the network and sends the anonymized patient data to a central repository at Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario.

The patient data is merged and is currently being used to provide epidemiological information on chronic disease (diabetes, hypertension, COPD, osteoarthritis, depression, parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and dementia) in order to improve the health care of Canadians. The database is now available to be used to conduct research on many acute and chronic health conditions.

The Maritime Family Practice Research Network (MaRNet-FP) is one of the participating PBRNs of CPCSSN. We are located in the Department of Family Medicine at Dalhousie University.

MaRNet-FP is currently extracting anonymized data on patients with chronic diseases from participating family physician and nurse practitioner practices using the Nightingale EMR. 

One of the key features of MaRNet-FP is its relationship with the participating family physician and nurse practitioners. The network provides regular individualized feedback on chronic disease management to participating health care providers. Currently, MaRNet-FP is sharing the information gained through knowledge translation to key informants and conducting research on the data being collected.

The network has the support of Primary Healthcare Information Management, Health Information Technology Services, Nova Scotia.



Williamson T , Natarajan N , Barber D , Jackson D , Greiver M, "Caring for the whole practice: The future of primary care.", Canadian Family Physician,59(7); 2013 (July). View the publication.

Keshavjee K, Williamson T, Natarajan N, Stafford K, "Canada's chronic disease surveillance network is now live.", Canadian Healthcare Technology, 18(4), 21-22. View the publication [PDF - 48 KB]


Green M, Williamson T, Khan S, Birtwhistle R, Wong S, Natarajan N, Manca D, Drummond N, "Validating the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN) algorithms for eight chronic diseases.", Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR), May 2013, Vancouver BC.

Natarajan N, VanAarsen K, Varatharasan N, Sabri N, Putnam W."Validating the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN) case detection algorithm for hypertension using Nova Scotia EMR data", Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research (CAHPSR), May 2013, Vancouver BC.

VanAarsen K, Natarajan N, Sabri S, Putnam W. "Collaborative practice with a nurse practitioner in primary care: Provider continuity of care and chronic disease prevention and management", 40th North American Primary Care Research Group, Dec 2012, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Sabri S, Natarajan N, Van Aarsen K, Putnam W., "Using clinical encounter diagnosis codes versus billing diagnosis codes in identifying patients with chronic disease. ", 39th North American Primary Care Research Group Annual Conference (NAPCRG) Annual Meeting, Nov 2011, Banff AB.

Sabri S, Van Aarsen K, Natarajan N, Putnam W, "The impact of inflated denominator on prevalence of chronic disease: Nova Scotia experience with CPCSSN data.", Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research (CASPHR) Annual meeting, May 2011, Halifax NS.

For more inforamtion on the CPCSSN network, please visit the website.


Collaborative Research for Primary Healthcare originates from a Strategic Research Initiative Grant from Dalhousie University. Thisinter-faculty research team is designed tobuild collaborative primary healthcare projects that cross faculties and disciplines.  Working together are researchers from family medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, occupational and physical therapy, social work, psychology, sociology, epidemiology, health informatics, health policy and more.    For more information, please visit us at

Maritime Family Practice Research Network


  • To develop a network of Family Practices across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island that can collaborate on research projects to improve health care in the Maritimes.
  • To enable community Family Physicians and Nurse Practitioners to combine their relevant questions, skills and resources with the expertise and resources of academic family physicians to conduct Primary Care research.
  • To conduct and support primary care research in practice-based settings that addresses questions of importance to Family Medicine and improve health care delivery to, and the health status of, patients and their families in the Maritime provinces.


Home base: Dalhousie Family Medicine, Halifax NS
Established: 2005
Founded by: Dr. Wayne Putnam

Current Network Director: Dr. Mathew Grandy