$9.6-million investment will advance Canada’s largest study of aging

March 12, 2021

By Lindsay Sands

A leading Canadian study on aging, of which SFU is a key player, will benefit from $9.6 million in federal funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) is a large, national, long-term study that follows approximately 50,000 individuals who are between the ages of 45 and 85 when recruited, for at least 20 years. The CLSA collects information on the changing biological, medical, psychological, social, lifestyle and economic aspects of individual’s lives. These aspects are studied to understand how–individually and in combination–they have an impact in both maintaining health and in the development of disease and disability as people age.

­The study is led by McMaster University, McGill University and Dalhousie University, along with a national team of researchers who lead CLSA sites at SFU, Memorial University, Université de Sherbrooke, Bruyère Research Institute/University of Ottawa, University of Manitoba, University of Calgary, University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.

The funding will help advance the infrastructure of CLSA’s research platform to ensure progress in generating knowledge that promotes the health and well-being of older adults and informs the development of programs and policies for the country’s aging population. The investment will equip the CLSA’s with the essential tools needed to help identify the early causes of chronic health conditions such as disability and cognitive decline, as well as mobility impairment.

The CFI funds will be used to renew infrastructure at the CLSA’s 11 data collection sites and four telephone interview centres. The sites are essential to the study as data collection is conducted through telephone and in-home interviews.

SFU Department of Gerontology principal investigator Andrew Wister says CFI’s generous investment will allow researchers to upgrade the infrastructure currently used at the two CLSA data collection sites at the Vancouver and Surrey campuses, and incorporate new equipment to collect data that aligns with emerging science in aging research.

“The CLSA research platform has become a fulcrum upon which researchers in the field of gerontology can expand our knowledge and transformative activities addressing a full spectrum of research, including the recent COVID-19 pandemic,” says Wister.

The goal of the CLSA is to find ways to help people live long and well, while understanding why some individuals age in a healthy fashion and others do not.