McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster nursing professors attract large grants for research into health aging

Published: June 19, 2013
Catherine Tompkins, Maureen Markle-Reid and Jenny Ploeg
Catherine Tompkins, associate dean, School of Nursing, speaks to associate professor Maureen Markle-Reid and professor Jenny Ploeg at the celebration of Maureen becoming the first Canada Research Chair in the School of Nursing and the funding of the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit.

A team of McMaster University School of Nursing professors has become a magnet for funding totalling $5.8 million, as well as a prestigious Canada Research Chair position, for research into optimal aging.

Today, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research announced an award of $2.5 million over five years for research to evaluate innovative activities by community-based primary health care teams to help older adults with multiple chronic conditions and their caregivers.

The research program, led by professor Jenny Ploeg and associate professor Maureen Markle-Reid, was one of 12 projects announced by federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. All of the projects are working to improve community-based primary health care in Canada and other countries.

"Community-based primary health care is the heart of our health care system," said Aglukkaq. "Our government understands that, for most Canadians, primary health care is the most frequent point of contact with the health care system, and we are committed to strengthening this front line of care.  I am particularly pleased that the teams we are supporting today will also focus on ways to improve access for those most vulnerable among us."

The news follows another announcement earlier this month by Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that the two School of Nursing principal investigators will receive $3.3 million over three years from the Health Systems Research Fund competition for research to reduce the burden of chronic disease on seniors and their family caregivers.

In addition, three months ago Markle-Reid was awarded a Canada Research Chair in Aging, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion Interventions. Her research will focus on promoting optimal aging at home for older adults with multiple chronic conditions and to support their family caregivers.

The Tier 2 Canada Research Chair positions, worth $500,000 over five years, are for exceptional emerging researchers acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field.

Markle-Reid will design, evaluate and translate new and innovative community-based interventions to improve access to health care, quality of life, and health outcomes in this population, while reducing the demand for expensive health services, such as hospital admissions.  This is the first Canada Research Chair for the nursing school.

Ploeg and Markle-Reid will co-lead the new Aging, Community and Health Research Unit of the School of Nursing. Their research program is made up of seven interrelated studies to be conducted in Ontario and Alberta, focusing on the prevention and management of multiple chronic conditions. Specifically, the studies will target seniors who have dementia, Type 2 diabetes and/or stroke, as these conditions tend to co-exist and are considered among the most prevalent chronic diseases amongst seniors.

"With the population aging at an unprecedented rate, improving quality of life for seniors as they age and keeping them out of hospitals has become a major public health priority," said Catherine Tompkins, associate dean of health sciences and director, School of Nursing.

"Dr. Markle-Reid, Dr. Ploeg and their colleagues will advance our understanding of what it means to be aging well in our society."

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