Associate Professor
Postdoctoral Fellowship (San Francisco Coordinating Center)
Ph.D. Epidemiology (University of California, Berkeley)
M.Sc. Kinesiology (Simon Fraser University)

B.Sc. Honours Kinesiology (Simon Fraser University)

(778) 782-9330

(778) 782-3040



Scholar, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
Director, Aging and Population Health Lab
Investigator, Centre for Hip Health and Mobility
Investigator, Community Health Solutions

Research Interests:

The Aging and Population Health Lab (APHL) studies mobility and aging, including the prevention, etiology, and management of age-related mobility limitations, as well as the promotion of mobility through physical activity. We have areas of concentration in physical activity, fall and injury prevention, and walking energetics and fatigability.

We are currently testing interventions to reduce fall-related injuries, finding out how tailored exercise programs affect the energy requirements of walking and fatigability, and piloting new approaches to help older adults adhere to their physical activity goals. Our research is embedded in a framework that supports translation of insights into actions.

Research in the Lab incorporates techniques from epidemiology and biostatistics, including clinical trial design, causal inference, longitudinal cohort studies, knowledge synthesis, and meta-analysis. We also conduct more traditional laboratory experiments.

Ultimately, our research seeks to identify and disseminate effective strategies for successful population aging through maintenance of mobility and functional autonomy.

Selected Publications

  1. Richardson CA, Glynn NW, Ferrucci LG, Mackey DC. Walking energetics, fatigability, and fatigue in older adults: The Study of Energy and Aging Pilot. Accepted by J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, July 18, 2014.

  2. Ensrud KE, Blackwell T, Cauley JA, Dam TT, Cawthon PM, Schousboe J, Barrett-Connor E, Stone K, Bauer DC, Shikany J, Mackey DC. Objective measures of activity level and mortality in older men. Accepted by J Am Geriatr Soc, July 7, 2014.

  3. Mackey DC, Cauley JA, Barret-Connor E, Schousboe J, Cawthon PM, Cummings SR. Life-space mobility and mortality in older men: A prospective cohort study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014;62(7):1288-1296.

  4. Tunaiji HOA, Davis JC, Mackey DC, Khan KM. Population attributable fraction of type 2 diabetes due to physical inactivity in adults: a systematic review . BMC Public Health. 2014;14:469.

  5. Cauley JA, Harrison SL, Cawthon PM, Ensrud KE, Danielson ME, Orwoll E, Mackey DC. Objective measures of physical activity, fractures, and falls: The Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study (MrOS). J Am Geriatr Soc. 2013 Jul;61(7):1080-8.

  6. Cawthon PM, Blackwell TL, Cauley JA, Ensrud K, Dam TT, Harrison S, Peters KW, Mackey DC. Objective assessment of activity, energy expenditure, and functional limitations in older men: The Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study (MrOS). J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2013;68(12):1518-24.

  7. Coen PM, Jubrias SA, Distefano G, Amati F, Mackey DC, Glynn NW, Manini TM, Wohlgemuth SE, Leeuwenburgh C, Cummings SR, Newman AB, Ferrucci L, Toledo FG, Shankland E, Conley KE, Goodpaster BH. Skeletal muscle mitochondrial energetics are associated with maximal aerobic capacity and walking speed in older adults. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2013:68(4):447-55.

  8. Mackey DC, Manini TM, Schoeller D, Goodpaster BH, Koster A, Glynn NW, Satterfield S, Newman AB, Harris TB, Cummings SR. Validation of an armband to measure free-living energy expenditure in older adults: The Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2011;66A(10):1108-13.

  9. Mackey DC, Black DM, Bauer DC, McCloskey EV, Eastell R, Mesenbrink P, Thompson JR, Cummings SR. Effects of antiresorptive treatment on non-vertebral fracture outcomes. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2011;26(10):2411-8.v

  10. Mackey DC, Hubbard AE, Cawthon PM, Cauley JA, Cummings SR, Tager IB; for the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Research Group. Usual Physical Activity and Hip Fracture in Older Men: An Application of Semiparametric Methods to Observational Data. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2011;173(5):578-86.

  11. Mackey DC. Determining which fractures are osteoporotic: Empirical associations would provide better evidence than expert opinion. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 2011;64(1):45.

  12. Mackey DC, Lui LY, Cawthon PM, Bauer DC, Nevitt MC, Cauley JA, Hillier TA, Lewis CE, Barrett-Connor E, Cummings SR. High-trauma fractures and low bone mineral density in older women and men. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2007;298(20):2381-8.

  13. Mackey DC, Eby JG, Harris F, Taaffe DR, Cauley JA, Tylavsky FA, Harris TB, Lang TF, Cummings SR. Prediction of clinical non-spine fractures in older black and white men and women with volumetric BMD of the spine and areal BMD of the hip: the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2007;22(12):1862-8.

  14. Mackey DC, Robinovitch SN. Mechanisms underlying age-related differences in ability to recover balance with the ankle strategy. Gait & Posture. 2006;23(1):59-68.

  15. Mackey DC, Robinovitch SN. Postural steadiness during quiet stance does not associate with ability to recover balance in older women. Clinical Biomechanics (Bristol, Avon). 2005;20(8):776-83.

For a full list of publications, please see PubMed


BPK 304W – Inquiry and Measurement in Kinesiology (Writing Intensive)

Training Opportunities

Graduate Trainee Positions

Dr. Dawn Mackey and the SFU Aging and Population Health Lab welcome applications from prospective MSc and PhD students from a range of backgrounds including kinesiology, human kinetics, exercise physiology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, public health, biostatistics, and epidemiology.

Dr. Mackey is a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar and a core member of the UBC Centre for Hip Health and Mobility and SFU’s Community Health Solutions. Through these affiliations, trainees have access to a wide variety of valuable and high-level training resources, as well as additional equipment and space.

We are currently searching for graduate trainees in five main areas.

  1. Physical Activity Adherence. We aim to determine the effects of behavioural economics approaches (e.g., financial incentives) on adherence to regular physical activity among inactive older adults.
  2. Energetics of Human Movement in Advanced Age. This project will quantify the energetic cost of daily activities in older adults, as well as determine how the energetic cost of walking influences fatigue and walking speed.
  3. Effects of Exercise on Walking Energetics in Older Adults. We aim to understand the effects of exercise training on the energetic cost of walking in older adults.
  4. Fall-Related Injury Prevention (The FLIP Study). This project involves an ongoing randomized trial of a flooring intervention to prevent fall-related injuries at a long-term care facility, as well as an evaluation of the intervention’s cost-effectiveness.
  5. Fall Prevention in Home Care (The SAIL Study). This project is examining the impacts of a fall prevention program for home care clients and staff.

Successful applicants will be expected to apply for external sources of funding for their research (e.g., MSFHR, CIHR, NSERC) as well as departmental Graduate Fellowships. Additional information concerning graduate studies can be found on the SFU Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology Graduate Studies web page.

SFU is a young and vibrant campus, consistently ranked as the top comprehensive university in Canada. It prides itself on being the best research-focused institution of its size. It sits on top of Burnaby mountain, surrounded by protected park land and overlooking the Burrard Inlet. Ski hills, beaches, forests, and downtown Vancouver are all close by.

If you are interested and qualified, please send a cover letter, CV, transcripts and relevant publications to Positions will be available until filled. Students may apply at any time during the year. Start dates are flexible.

Undergraduate Trainee Positions

Outstanding SFU undergraduates are encouraged to apply for NSERC and VPR Undergraduate Student Research Awards. Applications are due early January each year to fill positions in the following Summer, Fall, and Spring semesters – watch for this year’s deadline and position advertisements. Please contact me well in advance of the deadline to discuss your interests and background.

Outstanding undergraduates are also encouraged to apply to co-operative education work terms in the lab, when available. Co-operative education positions are posted via the SFU Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology Co-op office.

Volunteer Opportunities

The Aging and Population Health Lab accepts new volunteers periodically. Please email your resume/CV and transcripts to if you would like to be considered for a volunteer placement.


The Lab’s research is funded by the following agencies: