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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. 

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 Post-Doctoral 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 Post-Doctoral 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 Post-Doctoral 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 Post-Doctoral 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 Post-Doctoral 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 Post-Doctoral 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 Post-Doctoral 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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