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The McMaster Institute of Research on Aging (MIRA) and the Labarge Centre for Mobility in Aging (LCMA) fund interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellows who will lead collaborative, cutting edge research in aging. Our fellowships bring together strong leaders in aging research with interdisciplinary mentors from across McMaster. Fellows also participate in the MIRA trainee network, bringing leadership and diverse expertise to connect with colleagues and junior trainees. 

Geoff CoombsGeoff Coombs: The influence of age on cerebrovascular stiffness, cognitive function, and mobility

2022 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow

Supervisor: Al-Khazraji, Baraa (Science), Walsh, Jeremy (Science)
Mentors: Ada Tang, FHS, Michael Noseworthy, ENG


This study will evaluate structural integrity in brain blood vessels in middle to older-aged compared to young adults. It is hypothesized that cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity levels are linked to structural changes in the brain (i.e., exercise is protective against cerebral small vessel disease, as evidenced by MRI findings). The secondary hypothesis is that cognitive and physical function are both negatively related to changes in brain structure in middle to older-aged adults and that cardiorespiratory fitness/physical activity levels offset the magnitude of structural decline in brain blood vessels and therefore protect cognitive/physical function.

Alexandra Mayhew
Alexandra Mayhew: An interdisciplinary approach to understanding the biological pathways through which body composition impacts mobility: An analyses using longitudinal data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging

2022 Labarge Postdoctoral Fellow

Supervisor: Parminder Raina, Faculty of Health Sciences
Mentors: Jennifer Heisz, SCI, Cheryl Quenneville, ENG

Body composition markedly changes with age including muscle loss and fat accumulation. Common measures of body fat such as the body mass index (BMI) fail to capture age-related changes and have limited our understanding of the role of body composition in maintaining mobility in older adults. Data rom the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), will be evaluated to determine if alternative measures of body composition (i.e. visceral adipose tissues and subcutaneous adipose tissue) better identify older adults at increased risk of poor health due to excess fat.


DongDong Wang

Dongdong Wang: Is GDF15 important for the anti-aging effects of metformin?

2022 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow

Supervisor: Greg Steinberg, Endocrinology & Metabolism
Mentors: Vladimir Ljubicic, Co-PI, Kinesiology, Stuart Phillips, Kinesiology, Saman Sadeghi, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Michael Noseworthy, Electrical and Chemical Engineering, Guillaume Pare, Pathology and Molecular Medicine

Aging is the leading risk factor for developing many deleterious chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. The type 2 diabetes medication metformin has been shown to delay the onset of many age-related diseases in mice and in cross-sectional studies in humans. How metformin exerts beneficial effects in so many tissues, despite acting primarily in the liver, is unknown. Metformin increases the production of a hormone called growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) which is upregulated in the blood of aging mice and humans. In animal models, GDF15 effects include a reduction in food intake, body mass, and inflammation. This project will examine whether GDF15 is critical for the anti-aging effects of metformin and whether this involves the GDF15 receptor, by studying mice treated with metformin but lacking GDF15 and the GDF15 receptor.

Kaitlin Wynia Baluk
Kaitlin Wynia Baluk: The Digital Empowerment of Vulnerable Senior Living: A Case Study of Digital Literacy Training at CityHousing Hamilton

2022 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow

Mentors: Brian Detlor, BUS, Tara LaRose, SoSCI, Social Work, Carmela Laganse, HUM, School of the Arts, Brenda Silverthorne, Collab. - City Housing Hamilton, Lisa Weaver, Collab. - Hamilton Public Library

This project explores potential digital literacy training solutions for Hamilton older adults in social housing. The project is informed by Design Thinking. This study involved a qualitative research component about digital literacy and empowerment needs and training preferences, as well as the barriers they face to digital literacy. Results were shared with leadership at CityHousing Hamilton and Hamilton Public Library and were used to inform a federal grant application (Digital Literacy Exchange Program). In the second stage, findings from the first stage will be implemented to ideate potential digital literacy solutions for the target population and to plan a community-led digital literacy instruction program.

Isabel RodriguesIsabel Rodrigues: Building on what we know: Using design thinking to tailor routine assessments and interventions for fall and fracture prevention in long-term

2021 ​Labarge Postdoctoral Fellow in Mobility 

Supervisor: Alexandra Papaioannou, Medicine 
Mentors: Manaf Zargoush, Health Policy and Management
Rong Zheng, Computing and Software

Osteoporotic fractures can lead to a decline in physical function and early mortality in older adults living in long-term care. Management strategies such as exercise, diet and supplements, and medications may reduce the risk of falls and improve muscle strength and bone health among older adults with osteoporosis. Despite ample research to support such management options, older adults in their eighth and ninth decade of life are less likely to be treated for osteoporosis. The PREVENT model is an approach that embeds fracture assessment and treatment options in long-term care with the goal of preventing osteoporotic fractures. Before the PREVENT model can be implemented in practice (i.e., longterm care), it will be necessary to identify barriers to and facilitators of implementing the PREVENT model. After identifying barriers to and facilitators of implementing the PREVENT model, it can be adapted to create meaningful change in the prevention of osteoporotic fractures in long-term care settings. 

Jessica BreznikJessica Breznik: Examining the role of frailty in SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccine response in older adults

2021 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow 

Supervisor: Dawn Bowdish, ​Medicine
Mentors: Arthur Sweetman, Economics; Paul McNicholas, Mathematics and Statistics

COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on older adults in long-term care in Canada. This research project is part of the largest study in Canada to examine immunity and vaccine efficacy in older adults in long-term care homes and retirement communities. This research will examine questions such as whether vaccination against COVID-19 is protective, if booster shots are needed to prolong protection and whether older adults, especially those with complex health conditions like frailty, require other measures to keep them safe. Protective measures of immunity (e.g., antibody levels and immune cell responses) over time after vaccination will be examined in addition to the effects of biological factors (i.e., sex, frailty, other health conditions, prior infections) on those measures of protective immunity. Data from this study will inform initiatives to empower individuals and their families to make decisions about their health, as well as contribute to policy reforms in long-term care. 

Stephanie Hatzifilalithis

Stephanie Hatzifilalithis: Ageism in the time of technological innovation: Understanding older people’s digital landscapes

2021 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow 

Supervisor: Nicole Dalmer, Healthy, Aging &
Mentors: Milena Head, Information Systems; Paula Gardner,
Communication Studies and Multimedia

Ageism continues to be the most invisible and persistent form of discrimination. Discriminative biases work in digital systems via different mechanisms. While there is some awareness of gender, racial and socioeconomic discrimination that are perpetuated and exacerbated via digital platforms, ageism has received less attention. COVID-19 has exacerbated and exposed these fault lines on several accounts; people who lack digital literacy or access have been less likely to use digital means to connect socially, use health related technologies, access government supports and more. This timely project will examine how ageism tends to be amplified in the scripts, codes and programming that power digital infrastructures. In this project, we will disentangle the types of ageist mechanisms that are common in the approaches, design and implementation systems of digital landscapes. 

Mina Nouradanesh

Mina Nouredanesh: Identification of older adults’ mobility decline trajectories in longitudinal studies using
machine learning approaches

2021 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow 

Supervisor: Marla Beauchamp, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences
Mentors: Parminder Raina, Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact; Manaf Zargoush, Health Policy &
Management; Paul McNicholas, Mathematics and Statistics

Mobility limitation is a strong predictor of disability, hospitalization and death among older adults. To address new personalized rehabilitative interventions for improving late-life mobility, researchers’ attention has increasingly focused on understanding trajectories of mobility decline, rather than merely studying the onset of limitations. However, identification of these trajectories is challenging, as there are complex interactions between different factors (e.g., biological, behavioral, environmental), at the individual level, which impact the trajectories. This study will work to develop machine learning models to identify mobility decline trajectories in large-scale longitudinal datasets. By investigating a comprehensive set of measures, the anticipated models will provide information on risk factors contributing to mobility decline trajectories. Therefore, early preventive interventions could be addressed to delay the presence of adverse mobility-related outcomes (e.g., falls).  

Diego Roger Silva

Diego Roger Silva: Relationship between biomarkers and musculoskeletal pain and falls in older adults - A cross-sectional analysis of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging data 

2021 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow 

Supervisor: Luciana Macedo, Rehabilitation Science
Mentors: Stuart Phillips, Professor, Kinesiology, Faculty of Science; Manaf Zargoush, DeGroote School of Business

Musculoskeletal pain, risk for falls and the presence of inflammatory biomarkers in older adults have been identified as potential measures for functional decline, including frailty, quality of pain and severity of disability. There has been an increasing number of studies aiming to evaluate the relationship of biomarkers with both musculoskeletal pain and falls and the inter-relationship between the two. However, most studies have focused on smaller ‘pieces of the puzzle’ such as inflammatory biomarkers or measures of body composition alone. The proposed study will use the dataset of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) to evaluate multiple biomarkers associated with musculoskeletal pain and falls, while controlling for known psychosocial factors (e.g., age, depression). The purpose of this study is to observe the associations and interrelationship between biomarkers with musculoskeletal pain and falls in older adults.  

Chi-Lin Joanna Sinn

Chi-Ling Joanna Sinn: Developing a real-world framework for remote patient monitoring technologies that promote optimal aging

2021 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow 

Supervisor: Andrew Costa, Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact
Mentors: Carolyn Gosse, Vice President Integrated Care and President, St. Joseph’s Home Care; Jean-Éric Tarride, Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact; Nicole Wagner, Information Systems

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a virtual mode of health and social services delivery that organises care around the patient and family and makes care more accessible. Existing evidence suggests that RPM reduces hospitalisation, length of stay and mortality, particularly among older adults living with chronic disease. However, there is a lack of research focused on how RPM contributes to the overall goal of delivering integrated care, which has stalled the uptake of RPM into routine chronic disease management as well as for the broader population of older adults. To address the identified knowledge and practice gap, a research and community partnership will be created in an effort to understand RPM’s contribution to achieving the Quadruple Aim, identify the components of successful RPM programs and expand the virtual component of St. Joseph’s Health System’s Integrated Comprehensive Care program for the care of older adults with congestive heart failure/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the community.   

profile_fatemah_jazinizadeh_200x200Fatemeh Jazinizadeh: Enhancing the quality of life for older adults with end-stage knee osteoarthritis through patient phenotyping to tailor the clinical management

2020 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow 

Supervisor: Janie Wilson, Department of Surgery 
Mentors: Michael Noseworthy, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dylan Kobsar, Department of Kinesiology

Worldwide, knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is one of the largest contributors to disability in older adults. End stage treatment for KOA is total knee arthroplasty surgery; however, up to 30 per cent of patients continue to have significant pain and disability after surgery. Patients presenting with end-stage KOA vary considerably in clinical and structural presentation. Despite this variability, clinical management and perioperative rehabilitation lack the consistency and evidence to incorporate patient-specific factors. This project aims to identify phenotypes of patients with end-stage KOA who would benefit from targeted management of rehabilitation, and clinical and surgical decision-making, in order to improve patient quality of life and reduce the societal, and economic burden. 

thumbnail_Xuecong_LuXuecong Lu: Designing a real-time cybercrime alert system for older adults: neurophysiological solution during COVID-19

2020 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow

Supervisor: Milena Head, School of Business, Information Systems
Mentors: Brenda Vrkljan, School of Rehabilitation Science; Ridha Khedri, Department of Computing and Software

Older adults are increasingly vulnerable to cybercrime, losing up to $36 billion in recent years in North America. With an increasing number of older adults spending time online, combined with the sense of confinement and anxiety due to COVID-19 restrictions, cybercriminals have taken advantage of the situation. Therefore, it is imperative for governments and online service providers to address this issue of cybercrime targeting older adults. A real-time neurophysiological quantification of the characteristics specific to older adult victims of cybercrime has public policy implications and may assist in identifying persons at high risk of victimization. This can aid in directing interventions to these vulnerable older adults, ideally before they are targeted for cybercrimes. This research seeks to empower older adults to age in place through the design of a real-time cybercrime alert system.

unnamedAlireza Shahin-Shamsabadi: An in vitro study on the effect of exercise on brain health in the elderly: studying the crosstalk between the brain, skeletal muscle, and adipose tissues

2020 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow

Supervisor: Ravi Selvaganapathy, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Mentors: Margaret Fahnestock, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences; Aimee Nelson, Department of Kinesiology
Exercised skeletal muscle cells are believed to affect brain health and prevent neurodegenerative diseases either directly or indirectly. The objective of the current study is to develop an in vitro model that reliably recreates the effect of exercise on brain health by considering skeletal muscle, adipose and neuronal tissues to identify important signaling factors involved in this process. This model will be used to identify possible drugs that can improve, supplement, or replace the positive effects of exercise on brain health by inducing its effects on skeletal muscle tissue, which will be beneficial for older adults or those that cannot exercise due to physical impairments.

Tatiane-RibeiroTatiane Ribeiro: Accelerating the aging trajectory through prenatal adversity

2019 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow

Supervisors: Deborah Sloboda, Department of Biochemistry & Biomedical Sciences; Dawn Bowdish, Department of Pathology & Molecular Medicine
Mentors: Jose Moran-mirabal, Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology; James Dunn, Department of Health, Aging & Society 

Pneumonia in mid- to late-life is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, and dementia. More than 30 per cent of older adults who are hospitalized for pneumonia will develop dementia or become cognitively impaired earlier than expected. Examining pneumonia in a murine model, the first phase of this study found that maternal obesity increased the susceptibility to lung infection in neonatal offspring, and that obese dam’s offspring also demonstrated increased bacterial colony-forming units in the lungs and spleen during the peak of pneumonia infection. Thirty days after infection, the early life adversity animals also showed increased intestinal permeability. Together these results suggest an increased susceptibility to infection.

hsif_sophie_hogeveenSophie Hogeveen: Promoting optimal aging through equitable access to specialized geriatric services in Ontario

2019 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow

Supervisor: Andrew Costa, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact
Mentors: Manaf Zargoush, School of Business, Department of Health Policy and Management; Arthur Sweetman, Department of Economics

Specialized geriatric services (SGS) play a vital role in caring for frail, older adults with multiple, complex needs. However, resources are limited, and services are not equitably distributed geographically. The aim of this research will be to explore factors associated with access to SGS; investigate future supply and demand for these services; develop a SGS tool to equitably allocate SGS resources to frail older adults who would most benefit; increase collaboration and integration between care providers; help policymakers at system-level to better allocate resources; and guide the growth and expansion of SGS services to meet the needs of an aging population.

Lea_Ravensbergen-290x445Léa Ravensbergen: Understanding Older Adults' Active Travel 


Supervisor: Bruce Newbold, School of Geography and Earth Sciences
Mentors: Rebecca Ganann, School of Nursing; Christina Sinding, Department of Social Work
Canada’s population is aging rapidly: 16.9% of the population in 2016 was 65 years of age or older, and population projections estimate that seniors could make up almost one quarter of
the population by 2031. Promoting the health and well-being of this growing aging population is a pressing contemporary issue. A key factor relating to older adults’ quality of life is their mobility. Not only is mobility a basic human need associated with independence, health, and well-being, it is also important for older adults wishing to “age in place”: to remain living in their homes or their communities with some level of independence, rather than in residential care. In order to successfully age in place, older adults need to remain mobile to stay physically and mentally active and to access desired people and places to meet their daily needs and participate in social life. This project explored older adult’s experiences using public transportation (HSR, DARTS, or the taxi-script program) in Hamilton. Preliminary results indicate that there is significant work required for older adults who have little experience using public transportation to learn how to navigate public transit use. Results from this study will contribute to our understanding of how older adults can maintain independent mobility as they age and transition from driver to non-drivers, contributing to a greater understanding of how to foster age-friendly cities.

Irene-MussioIrene Mussio: Changes in higher order risk attitude during a pandemic: the impact of rapid increases in health background risk on financial decisions


Supervisor: Jeremiah Hurley, Department of Economics Mentors: Andrew Costa, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact (HEI), Jean-Eric Tarride, Department of HEI                                                                                  Individuals make economic decisions while being exposed to a multitude of risks that they cannot completely control. The current COVID-19 pandemic as well as quarantine measures have prompted changes in behaviour such as impulse purchasing, hoarding non-perishable goods, or defying government rules to social distance or self-isolate. This study proposes to understand changes in behavior involving financial decisions determined by the exogenous introduction of COVID-19 in people’s lives. This economic experiment will study the behavior of different age cohorts following introduction of COVID-19, with economic behaviour data collected prior to the start of the pandemic, and aims to determine the differential effect of increased background risk (through COVID-19) and if this effect changes across age groups.

profile.v1Wael Brahim: Remote monitoring of breathing patterns and mobility patterns


Supervisor: Lotfi Belkhir, W Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology
Mentors: Qiyin Fang, Department of Engineering Physics; Joshua Wald, Department of Medicine
The health condition of older people can be evaluated using several indicators. Some vital signs can provide immediate or early warnings of abnormal activities inside the patient room. However, the current methods of monitoring suffer from a low level of acceptability among older adults, especially those suffering from dementia. These methods require full contact with the patient’s skin and can be very disruptive. The team’s project aims to enable a new level of contactless and inconspicuous health and monitoring capabilities of older people that will eliminate these inconveniences by using remote monitoring of indicators based on thermal camera capture. The team’s objective is to develop a fully commercial system, totally safe and contactless, capable of monitoring older people’s health conditions and providing timely alerts for any disorder or condition that requires immediate medical attention. 

Ya-Tang Chuang: Improving mobility of Alternate Level of Care (ALC) seniors in the Canadian health care system: Data driven solutions

2018 MIRA Postdoctoral Fellow

Supervisor: Manaf Zargoush, DeGroote School of Business
Mentors: Alexandra Papaioannou, Department of Medicine; Reza Samavi, Department of Computing and Software

Alternate level of care (ALC) patients are hospitalized patients who no longer require hospital resources and services yet have not been discharged because of a lack of beds in rehabilitation or long-term care (LTC) facilities. The average wait time for admission to LTC facilities in Ontario is approximately 94 days. ALC patients prevent access to care for other patients who need intensive care; and since ALC patients do not receive an appropriate level of care, it can negatively affect their health outcomes.



Supervisor: Alexandra Papaioannou, Department of Medicine Mentors: Amanda Grenier, Department of Health, Aging and Society; Steven Bray, Department of Kinesiology                                                                                                                       In 2018, MIRA and the LCMA held a competition to identify the inaugural Labarge Postdoctoral Fellow in Mobility; Dr. Patricia Hewston was the successful candidate. The vision for Patricia’s project is to build infrastructure and capacity to initiate a program in aging and mobility with a technology that measures gait called GAITRite to inform best practices for falls prevention to optimize mobility and well-being of older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI can be a transitional state between cognitively intact and dementia, and is associated with double the risk of falls compared to those without MCI.  Falls can result in declines in mobility, activity avoidance, institutionalization, and mortality. Given the importance of preventing falls in older adults with MCI, simple yet highly predictive technologies are advantageous to provide precise and standardized feedback to assess and track change in fall risk before and after intervention and inform best practices for falls prevention.

Caitlin-McArthurCaitlin McArthur: Portable technology to support exercise in the homes of frail older adults: A development and pilot study


Supervisor: Alexandra Papaioannou, Department of Medicine
Mentors: Paula Gardner, Department of Communications Studies and Multimedia Amanda Grenier, Department of Health, Aging and Society                                     
Dr. McArthur is the clinical lead of the Arts-Based exercise enabling LongEvity (ABLE) research initiative to revolutionize at-home exercise and development of the fracture risk assessment and treatment tools for home and long-term care. This research project focused on the development and testing of a portable technology platform to promote sustainable exercise participation within the homes of frail, older adults who have been discharged from hospital. The project engaged cross-disciplinary perspectives into the design and evaluation of the platform. The technology that has been developed will increase the enjoyment, affordability, and sustainability of rehabilitation in the home. Older adults who receive limited home care services and cannot access community exercise classes will be able to participate in enjoyable exercise within their home. In the future, the platform will be able to be used across several sectors where older adults access services, for example in communities, complex continuing care or long-term care. Further, limited physical therapy home care resources will not be additionally burdened. The team has used design thinking and participatory methods to incorporate older adults into the design and implementation of the platform. Dr. McArthur was successful in securing CIHR funds to continue her work at McMaster.


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