Ottawa invests in McMaster’s healthy aging research


McMaster University has received $417,500 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for research projects that analyze data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA).

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, today announced that the Government of Canada is providing a total of $1.7 million to support 25 projects to be carried out by researchers across the country to use and analyze baseline CLSA data to answer important health questions. McMaster University, the host institution of the CLSA, received the largest allocation of funding, with support going to six research teams.

The CLSA is a national research platform that focuses on health and aging. The platform allows researchers to answer critical questions on the biological, medical, psychological, social, lifestyle and economic aspects of aging, disability and disease. Launched in 2010, the CLSA is led by principal investigator Parminder Raina, a professor in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact. Susan Kirkland of Dalhousie University and  Christina Wolfson of McGill University are co-principal investigators.

The six funded McMaster projects include:

  • Disability associated with multimorbidity including mental health conditions: A cross-sectional analysis of Canadian population-based data
    Kathryn Fisher of the School of Nursing is studying the link between disability and multiple chronic conditions, including mental disorders and physical chronic conditions, in adults aged 45 or older.
  • Examining frailty in Canada from a population health perspective
    Lauren Griffith, an associate professor of Health Evidence and Impact, is studying how frailty varies across Canada by asking the question “why are some people more frail and others not?”
  • Sarcopenia and mobility impairment and the associated consequences in Canadians: An analysis of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA)
    Sarcopenia is the age-related decrease in muscle mass and muscle strength/function. Stuart Phillips, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, will evaluate the four major definitions of the disease to determine which one is most strongly associated with functional limitations.
  • The population impact of combinations of behavioural risk factors on disability: Analysis from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging
    Parminder Raina will lead a team to study the combinations of risk factors that are responsible for the greatest burden of disability in the population.
  • Understanding the disablement process in people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis: Analysis of the CLSA comprehensive cohort baseline data
    Lina Santaguida, an assistant professor of Health Evidence and Impact, will lead a study investigating the factors that lead to disability in two major types of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • To drive or not to drive? Understanding the influence of the complex relationships between personal and environmental factors on the driving mobility and social participation of older Canadians
    For older adults, driving and independence are inextricably linked. This study, led by Brenda Vrkljan of the School of Rehabilitation Science, will investigate the factors that can influence transportation mobility in older adults and how these relationships impact social participation.

“The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging is thankful to the Government of Canada for its ongoing support of research that will improve the health of Canadians,” said Dr. Raina, who also holds the Raymond and Margaret Labarge Chair in Research and Knowledge Application for Optimal Aging and the Canada Research Chair in Geroscience.

“The CLSA research platform has been created as a rich resource of data available to all Canadian health researchers. We are thankful for the commitment and contributions of our participants, as well as for the enterprise of researchers who will analyze the CLSA data and generate new knowledge on the factors that contribute to healthy aging.”

The CLSA is collecting data from more than 50,000 participants across Canada over 20 years to better understand the underpinnings of healthy aging. The initial baseline data set is now ready and available for use by researchers and trainees working in all areas of health and psychosocial well-being. For information about data access, visit

The CLSA is a major strategic initiative of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). CIHR has invested a total of $65.1 million in the CLSA. An additional $26.5 million has been invested by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, provincial governments, universities and other partners.

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