News at Medicine - March 2021 - Federal investment renews Canada’s largest study of aging

Federal investment renews Canada’s largest study of aging
March 5, 2021
 A $9.6-million investment by the Government of Canada in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) will renew the infrastructure of the CLSA research platform, ensuring its progress in generating knowledge that promotes the health and well-being of older adults and informs the development of programs and policies for Canada’s aging population.
Dr. Gerald Mugford, associate professor of clinical epidemiology in the Division of Community Health and Humanities, is the Newfoundland and Labrador CLSA lead investigator.
This investment, made through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), will position the CLSA to build critical tools to help identify the early causes of chronic health conditions such as mobility impairment, disability and cognitive decline.
Dr. Gerry Mugford
Launched in 2010, the CLSA is Canada’s largest study of aging following more than 50,000 individuals who were between the ages of 45 and 85 at recruitment, for 20 years.
The platform is led by Dr. Parminder Raina, the lead principal investigator at McMaster University, and co-principal investigators Dr. Christina Wolfson of McGill University and Dr. Susan Kirkland of Dalhousie University, along with a national team of researchers who lead CLSA sites at Memorial University, Université de Sherbrooke, Bruyère Research Institute/University of Ottawa, University of Manitoba, University of Calgary, Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.

Dr. Mugford, said that this funding will aid the Newfoundland and Labrador site and the 10 other CLSA sites to incorporate innovative new technologies that will significantly improve understanding of impediments to healthy aging.

“We are extremely proud of the commitment our Newfoundland study participants have made to the CLSA, especially during these COVID-19 challenges. Without the generous support of Memorial University, the Faculty of Medicine, Eastern Health, the Province and Federal government, Canada would not be a world leader in understanding the aging process.”

The CFI funds will be used to renew infrastructure at the CLSA’s 11 data collection sites and four telephone interview centres. It will also support existing infrastructure, including the National Coordinating Centre and the Biorepository and Bioanalysis Centre, based at McMaster University, the Data Curation Centre, based at the Research Institute of McGill University Health Centre, the Metabolomics Centre at McGill University and the Epigenetics Centre at the University of British Columbia.

CLSA research initiatives that will be supported by the investment include:
  • Development of a new remote data analysis platform
  • Development of new IT infrastructure for linking the CLSA data with provincial health data
  • Integration of new equipment to assess mobility, vision and brain health
  • New equipment for proteomics and metabolomic analyses of biospecimens
  • Upgrades to existing CLSA equipment and software
“Great science and research is the first step in driving innovation,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Now more than ever, Canadians are looking to their researchers to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems. Our government is proud to support today’s funding recipients, who are harnessing their expertise and dedication to make the important discoveries that will serve Canadians now and in the future.”