Some brains age healthier than others; researchers at Hamilton’s McMaster University receive $12M to figure out why

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Published November 25, 2021 at 11:35 am

A study hosted by Hamilton's McMaster University received a $12 million grant as researchers look to explore why some individuals go through a healthier ageing process than others.

A study hosted by Hamilton’s McMaster University received a $12 million grant as researchers look to explore why some individuals go through a healthier ageing process than others.

The Weston Family Foundation is awarding the money to the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), for a new initiative that will shed light on the many factors that influence brain health as we age, including lifestyle and the human microbiome.

The Healthy Brains, Healthy Aging Initiative will feature a cohort of 6,000 research participants who are currently enrolled in the CLSA. It marks the first time a national study of ageing in Canada has introduced both brain imaging and microbiome analyses to investigate cognitive ageing in the population over time.

The Weston Family Foundation has set an ambitious goal of improving and maintaining brain health in its overall efforts to improve the well-being of Canadians.

“The influence of lifestyle factors and the human microbiome on brain health is an emerging and important piece of the healthy ageing puzzle, but there is a lack of existing baseline research at a large scale,” said Emma Adamo, chair, Weston Family Foundation.

“We’re motivated to launch this initiative with the CLSA and McMaster University to enable researchers around the country to conduct further study and ultimately increase Canadians’ quality of life as they age.”

With more than 50,000 participants, the CLSA follows Canadian men and women for 20 years to better understand why some people remain healthier than others as they age.

“These enhancements to the CLSA research platform will provide researchers with critical data to better understand the basis of successful cognitive aging,” said professor Parminder Raina, lead principal investigator of the CLSA and scientific director of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging.

“We thank the Weston Family Foundation for their generous support and commitment to this incredibly important area of study, which we hope will have an undeniable impact on the health of Canadians.”

Researchers feel that the potential breakthroughs as a result of data gathered by the Healthy Brains, Healthy Aging Initiative will not only improve the health of Canadians as they age but will generate research evidence to inform policy and programs that increase the agency of Canadians on their own health outcomes.

 

—with files from Laura Lawson, McMaster University Brighter World

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