Written by Mahnoor Akram

Author Introduction: My name is Mahnoor Akram and I am a fourth-year Biology-Physiology student at McMaster University. I’ve always loved being involved in my community and Hamilton Aging in Community has brought forth so many opportunities for me to expand my knowledge on aging and how I can work towards making a change in the geriatric population!

In November 2021, the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) was awarded a $12-million research grant, for a new longitudinal study led by McMaster University.  The CLSA has more than 50,000 participants and strives to understand why some age healthier than others, investigating factors that influence this process. 

This grant will be used towards a new initiative called the Healthy Brains, Healthy Aging Initiative. Through funding this initiative, the Weston Family Foundation hopes to improve and maintain brain health, and the overall well-being of Canadians. 

What is the Healthy Brains, Healthy Aging Initiative?

The six-year Healthy Brains, Healthy Aging Initiative will work to investigate a plethora of factors that affect brain health as we age. It will include 6,000 research participants and use data from MRI imaging of the brain and the gut microbiome to understand how different factors (such as economic status and your lifestyle) correlate with healthy aging. It will include an initial scan and then follow-up scans three years later. The data that will be received from this study will be available for use internationally to help understand cognitive aging better. 


Pictured above is an MRI that will be used in this new initiative.

What will this initiative do for the future?

This initiative will be the first national study of aging that uses brain imaging (through MRI) and the analysis of the microbiome to understand how the brain ages over time. There is currently minimal research investigating the influence of the microbiome on brain health. This research will help us understand the aging process better to promote different programs and make Canadians more aware of their health. 

If you would like to read more on this funding, please see the CLSA website article found here: https://www.clsa-elcv.ca/healthy-brains