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McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences Newsmagazine — Volume 9, Issue 3, Fall 2015

Major boost supports study on aging

This past spring the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging's (CLSA), the most comprehensive study of aging ever undertaken in Canada, received a massive funding boost and reached a big milestone.

In March, the CLSA received $41.6 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to continue its work for the next five years. The CLSA headquarters are hosted at McMaster.

Launched in 2010, the study is led by researchers at McMaster, McGill and Dalhousie universities, and has data collection sites across the country. A total of 50,000 Canadians are being followed over 20 years to provide information which can be used to improve understanding on subjects ranging from disease development to how social habits may affect how someone ages, and ultimately promote healthy aging.

This funding is a strong vote of confidence in the importance of improving Canadians' health through a better understanding of the aging process.

— Parminder Raina

"We are gathering a broad range of information on biological, medical, psychological, social, lifestyle and economic aspects of people's lives," said CLSA lead principal investigator Parminder Raina, a McMaster professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics.

In June, the CLSA's milestone of reaching its ambitious recruitment goal of 50,000 participants was formally recognized by the Government of Canada. Minister of Labour Kellie Leitch and local Member of Parliament David Sweet visited McMaster to congratulate leaders from the CLSA and McMaster University, and learn more about the national, long-term study. They also thanked the Canadians from coast to coast who are taking part in the initiative. The government officials also took a tour of the CLSA's Biorepository and Bioanalysis Centre, based at McMaster.

All participants have now completed baseline assessments through telephone interviews, or face-to-face interviews followed by visits to specially designed data collection sites. Participants will be revisited once every three years to carry out complete data collection, and contacted at regular intervals to touch base and maintain engagement with the study.

The CLSA was launched through $50 million in grants from CIHR, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, several provinces and universities, as well as other partners to set up the research platform, recruit participants and collect data from participants.