To stay healthy as we age, we need social services in the community we can rely on and health care services that pay attention to our unique health and social needs.
But here’s the problem — for older women, that’s not happening.
The first and only centre of its kind in the world, Women’s Age Lab will be a space for exploration and collaboration on science-driven system and social change that will improve the lives of older women.
Women’s Age Lab aims to support the healthy aging of women by reimagining a system and society where older women and their distinct well-being and health needs are recognized and addressed. Together with researchers, healthcare providers, community-based organizations, and policy makers we will be a catalyst to improve the lives of older women around the world.
The Women’s Age Lab plays a critical role in advancing the Women’s College Hospital’s vision for a healthier, more equitable world.
Founded in 2021, the Women’s Age Lab is committed to improving the lives of older women by focusing exclusively on their needs.
A world where science is used to recognize and address the unique health and well-being needs of older women
To improve the lives of older women by using science to transform care and practice, and drive health system and social change
- Committed to equity, diversity and inclusion across our mandate
- Advancing science-based inquiry
- Putting ideas into action
- Strengthening intergenerational solidarity and mentorship
We Are All in This Together
At Women’s Age Lab, we are committed to building an inclusive, just and equitable community that values, supports and honours the wisdom, lived experience and contributions of all people. Our work is intended to benefit people of all genders. We aim to cultivate and strengthen a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion in everything we do.
“By 2025, more than 25 per cent of our population will make up the 65+ year old demographic, making Canada a super-aging society. As this society continues to grow and diversify, so too, will their healthcare needs.”
We are informed and inspired by the voices of women everywhere and strive to improve health and well-being outcomes of older women by:
- Advancing Science: Use existing science and creating new knowledge where necessary to identify and study issues in health and social care to improve the lives of older women
- Accelerating Science into Action: Close the “know-do” gap in health and social care, by using sex/gender and age disaggregated data, and spreading practical, scalable solutions that will improve the lives of older women
- Advocating and Raising Awareness through Stories: Inspire new ways of thinking, feeling and acting based on research and solutions in health and social care of older women, build partnerships and collaborations for action, contribute to the development to the future generation of scientists and clinicians, and campaign for change.
At Women’s Age Lab, we envision a health care system — and a society — that supports women as they age. Where the default question asked by policy makers and care providers is: “well, what about older women?” That question should be asked no matter if we’re talking about who should be included in a clinical trial, or what is needed to support people who want to grow older at home, or how we collect data.
We believe asking that question will drive answers in the form of focused interventions and help us find and test solutions tailored to older women.
Guided by this ethos, we will change the way we think, feel and act towards older women through science and by closing the sex/gender and age data gap in these four distinct and interconnected areas:
Our Lab will promote equity and inclusion by making a compelling, science-based case for the importance of valuing the lived experiences and contributions of all older women. We will work to ensure that the unique health and well-being needs of older women are recognized and responded to by the people who plan and deliver health care and social programs for them.
- Gendered ageism: addressing discrimination based on age and sex. The Lancet. 2021 July 27
- The Missing Pieces of the COVID-19 Puzzle. The Lancet. 2020 June 14
- Increasing the visibility of older women in clinical research. The Lancet. 2020 May 16
Long-term care homes deliver an essential type of care that will always be needed by some older people, but the reality is most older people live in their own homes. Most of these are women. We need to explore successful models of care to find the best ways to support them so they can get the care they need to stay in their homes and communities.
- Predictors of Mortality Among Long-Term Care Residents with SARS-CoV-2 Infection. J Am Ger Soc JAGS. 2021 Aug 19
- For-profit long-term care homes and the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and resident deaths. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2020 August 17
Medicines and drug development have made longer lives possible — but at the same time, older women often experience adverse effects from inappropriate drug use. Our team of scientists and researchers at Women’s Age Lab will build on our world-renowned research on prescribing cascades. We will ensure that healthcare providers have the tools they need to make treatment decisions in partnership with patients and caregivers, and to address the preventable harm that disproportionately affects the health of older women everywhere.
- Current Research Project: https://gender-net-plus.eu/ikascade
- Prescribing cascades: we see only what we look for, we look for only what we know. Age and Ageing. 2022 July 01
- Polypharmacy, inappropriate prescribing, and deprescribing in older people: through a sex and gender lens. The Lancet Healthy Longevity. 2021 May 01, 2021
- Optimizing drug treatment for elderly people: The Prescribing Cascade. BMJ 1997.
To learn more about the team’s international GENDER-NET Plus research funded project, Identifying Key Prescribing Cascades in the Elderly: A Transnational Initiative on Drug Safety (iKASCADE), please click here.
We all know that being connected to family, friends, neighbours and community is good for us, and this is especially true for improving the health and wellbeing of older adults. At Women’s Age Lab, we will work to better understand the experience of loneliness in older people, but especially for older women, and develop and share new ideas and strategies to help address this pressing issue.
- Loneliness among older adults in the community during COVID-19: a cross-sectional survey in Canada. BMJ Open. 2021 April 2
- Looking before we leap: building the evidence for social prescribing for lonely older adults. J Am Ger Soc JAGS.2019 December 16
Dr. Paula Rochon MD, MPH, FCRPC
Founding Director, Women’s Age Lab
Senior Scientist, Women’s College Research Institute, Women’s College Hospital
Professor, Department of Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and RTOERO Chair in Geriatric Medicine, University of Toronto
Senior Scientist, ICES
Dr. Rochon is Founding Director of Women’s Age Lab, a geriatrician and senior scientist at Women’s College Hospital and ICES. She received her medical degree from McMaster University and Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Rochon is a professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto (UofT) and is the inaugural RTOERO Chair in Geriatric Medicine at UofT. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and a Fellow of the Canadian Geriatrics Society (FCGS).
Dr. Rochon has a strong record of federal funding and has published more than 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals. She held the role of the Vice President of Research at Women’s College Hospital for 12 years. Dr. Rochon chairs the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (Canada’s federal funding agency) Institute of Aging Advisory Board to support research and promote healthy aging across Canada. She is the Deputy Editor of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS). She was a member of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, when it was active, where she chaired the Congregate Care Setting Working group.
She has received research distinctions, including being elected to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2013. She was awarded the Eaton Clinical Researcher of the Year Award from the University of Toronto in 2020, and the Eugenie Stuart Award for the Best Thesis Supervisor from the University of Toronto, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, in 2022.
Dr. Rochon is committed to the development of trainees and new investigators in aging research and making valuable contributions to our future understanding of aging. Her team has won prestigious research awards, presented across Canada, and published in peer-reviewed academic journals, disseminating key learnings and important findings from their research projects.
Dr. Savage is a Scientist with the Women’s Age Lab and the Women’s College Research Institute, where she collaborates frequently with Dr. Rochon. She received her PhD in epidemiology, from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at University of Toronto. Dr. Savage is investigating loneliness and social isolation in older adults at the population-level to understand how we can improve the health and well-being of our aging population and alleviate demands on our healthcare system. She is using a variety of approaches, including surveys and focus groups, to understand the experience of loneliness in women and to determine whether older women and men have shared, or unique, risk factors, to better address the needs of all older adults.
Dr. Mason is a Scientist with the Women’s College Research Institute. She received her PhD in Applied Psychology at the University of Toronto. For over 20 years, Dr. Mason has worked with equity-seeking groups and undertaken activities to promote inclusive practices in research and health service delivery. Her work in health equity has had a dual focus: Improving research outcomes by integrating an intersectional sex and gender lens (SGBA+) into all research methods and processes; and, refining healthcare services to better meet the needs of those who have experienced gender-based violence. Each of these initiatives has been characterized by extensive outreach and engagement with academics, frontline providers, and patient partners/community members. Dr. Mason’s work has included the creation of educational modules and materials, as well as the mentoring of trainees, students, and service providers on a local, provincial, and national scale.
Dr. Stall is a geriatrician and clinician scientist with the Women’s Age Lab and Women’s College Research Institute, as well as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He received his medical degree from Western University and completed his residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship training in Geriatric Medicine at the University of Toronto. He also received a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology & Health Care Research at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) at the University of Toronto. His research interests include family caregiving, long-term care, drug safety for older adults, sex- and gender-based determinants of ageing, and health care utilization among persons with dementia. During the COVID-19 pandemic he served as the Assistant Scientific Director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table and a Network Science Advisor for CanCOVID.
Haley Warren is the Project Manager at Women’s Age Lab. She holds a Master’s in Health Sciences with a Specialization in Community Health, and a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Psychology from Queen’s University. Haley has extensive experience in managing the design, delivery and eval of healthcare improvement initiatives across Canada, and has a background in community-based research and engagement. She is passionate about facilitating meaningful partnerships with all stakeholders and supporting engagement across the healthcare system. Haley utilizes these skills to support and work closely with all partners at Women’s Age Lab.
Razan Rawdat is the Research Associate, Knowledge Mobilization at Women’s Age Lab. She received her Master’s degree from the University of Toronto in Translational Research and has over five years of experience in mobilizing research knowledge into practice. Razan has a background in knowledge translation and mobilization in research labs, hospitals, and non-profit organizations. She collaborates with the team to develop knowledge mobilization strategies to disseminate research, engage stakeholders, and raise awareness about healthy ageing and older women’s wellbeing.
Joyce Li is the Research Coordinator III of Women’s Age Lab and part of Dr. Rochon’s team at Women’s College Research Institute. Joyce received her Honors Bachelor of Science from McMaster University and brings over 10 years of healthcare research experience. She collaborates with the team on research initiatives focused on improving the health and well-being of older women.
Peter Anderson is a Research Program Manager for Women’s Age Lab and for Dr. Rochon’s team at Women’s College Research Institute. Peter received his BA from the University of Western Ontario. With 15 years of experience working with Dr. Rochon and her team, Peter provides expert advice and guidance to staff and trainees across multiple research areas. He works closely with Dr. Rochon and provides administrative, logistical, planning and technical support for the team, and coordinates reporting to funders and partners.
Wei Wu is a statistical analyst of Women’s Age Lab and part of Dr. Rochon’s team at Women’s College Research Institute. Wei received his MSc in Biostatistics program from the University of Toronto. He has more than 15 years of experience providing statistical analyses for a wide range of funded clinical research projects. He assists researchers and trainees with the preparation of grant proposals, conducts data analyses on local and provincial health databases, and prepares manuscripts and reports.
Christina Yu is a Research Coordinator with the Women’s Age Lab. Christina received her Honours Bachelor of Science from Queen’s University. She works closely with Dr. Savage assisting studies looking at loneliness in older adults in the community
Elizabeth Konigshaus is the Administrative Assistant to Dr. Rochon. She works closely with Dr. Rochon and the team, providing administrative and logistical support. Liz has over 20 years of experience working as an administrative assistant, primarily at Mount Sinai Hospital and the University of Toronto, Department of Psychiatry. She joins Woman’s Age Lab on a part-time basis.
Women’s Age Lab is at the forefront of training the future generation of scientists and clinicians.
Dr. Christina Reppas-Rindlisbacher, MD PhD(c)
Dr. Reppas-Rindlisbacher is a trainee with the Women’s Age Lab at the Women’s College Research Institute. Dr. Reppas-Rindlisbacher received her medical degree from the University of Toronto and went on to complete a residency in internal medicine and subspeciality training in geriatric medicine. She is currently working as a geriatrician whilst completing her PhD in Clinical Epidemiology & Health Care Research at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral research will use administrative databases to explore practice patterns and long-term adverse health outcomes for older adults after delirium. Her goal is to better understand how delirium care differs depending on sociodemographic factors such as gender, income, language, and recent immigrant status.
Dr. Peter Hoang, MD
Dr. Hoang is a trainee with the Women’s Age Lab at the Women’s College Research Institute. Dr. Hoang received his medical degree from McMaster University and completed internal medicine training at the University of Calgary. He is currently completing his geriatric medicine subspecialty training at the University of Toronto. His research interests are using a mixed methods approach to understand the lived experiences of older adults who are at risk of, or face homelessness. Specifically, his research will use administrative databases to understand risk factors associated with homelessness in combination with components such as sex, gender, and culture, and its translation to health outcomes in older adults.
Vasily Giannakeas, PhD
Vasily Giannakeas is a Research Fellow with the Women’s Age Lab at the Women’s College Research Institute. Dr. Giannakeas completed his PhD in Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. His primary research interest is the use of administrative health data to answer epidemiological questions. He has a strong background in epidemiologic methods, statistics, programming, and research design. Dr. Giannakeas will join the Women’s Aging Lab team as a methodologist.
Shereen Khattab, MD(c) MSc
Shereen Khattab is a research student working under the supervision of Dr. Rochon and Dr. Lawson. Shereen graduated from McMaster University with both an Honours Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science. She is entering her third year of medical school at the University of Toronto in the fall. She is working on a project to emphasize the significance of gender and age disaggregated data.
Natalie Palumbo, MD(c)
Natalie Palumbo is a research student working under the supervision of Dr. Rochon and Dr. Lawson. She will be entering her second year of medical school at Western University in the fall. She is working on a project to emphasize the significance of gender and age disaggregated data.
Maya Sheth, MPH Student
Maya Sheth is completing her Masters of Public Health, specializing in Epidemiology, at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Maya is completing her research practicum under the supervision of Dr. Savage and Dr. Rochon. She is using health administrative databases to investigate the association between individual characteristics and neighbourhood factors and the need for long-term care in older adults living in naturally occurring retirement community buildings.
Paneet Gill, MPH Student
Paneet Gill is a practicum student working under the supervision of Dr. Rochon. She is completing her Master of Public Health in Health Promotion, at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Paneet received her Honours Bachelor of Science from Simon Fraser University, where she minored in Gerontology. Her work involves supporting knowledge mobilization processes and products to bridge the gap between research and practice related to aging, sex and gender, and pharmacology.
In a four-part series by RTOERO, Women’s Age Lab trainees are introduced and share sneak peaks on their research initiatives.
Learn more about what inspires these interns to pursue the field of geriatrics and where their future aspirations lie.
Dr. Rochon leads the future of geriatric medicine: Part 1
Dr. Rochon leads the future of geriatric medicine: Part 2
Interested in becoming a trainee at Women’s Age Lab? Return to this page for future updates
Dr. Gillian Hawker
Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a Senior Scientist at the Women’s College Research Institute
Gillian Hawker is the Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a Senior Scientist at the Women’s College Research Institute. She is a health services researcher whose research focus has been on disparities in access to care for people living with osteoarthritis. She has published over 300 peer-reviewed articles and was the 2020 recipient of the International Osteoarthritis Research Society’s Clinical Research Award. In her role as Department Chair, she has been implementing strategies to enhance equity, diversity and professionalism, with a particular focus on advancing women & marginalized groups in academic medicine.
Dr. Jerry H. Gurwitz
Executive Director of the Meyers Health Care Institute, Chief, Division of Geriatric Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA
Jerry Gurwitz is the Executive Director of the Meyers Health Care Institute, a joint endeavor of UMASS Chan Medical School, Reliant Medical Group, and Fallon Health. He also serves as Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School where he is the Dr. John Meyers professor of primary care medicine. Dr. Gurwitz’s research has focused on improving medications use in older adults, especially those residing in long-term care settings. He has authored numerous original articles, reviews, commentaries, and book chapters in the area of geriatric pharmacotherapy and is a respected teacher and public advocate for improving care of older adults. He is currently principal investigator of the National Institute on Aging-funded Advancing Geriatrics Infrastructure and Network Growth (AGING) Initiative which is a joint endeavor of the Health Care Systems Research Network and the Older Americans Independence Centers. The AGING Initiative focuses on advancing the science of multiple chronic conditions in older adults.
President and CEO of Healthcare Excellence Canada
Jennifer Zelmer is the inaugural President and CEO of Healthcare Excellence Canada, the new organization formed in 2020 through the amalgamation of the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and Canadian Patient Safety Institute to achieve safer, higher quality and more coordinated patient-partnered healthcare.
President & CEO of Women’s College Hospital
Heather McPherson is a highly recognized healthcare executive with extensive experience in clinical, academic and health system leadership. Heather is an innovative leader who has been instrumental in establishing clinical programs and services that close the health gaps for patients throughout the province. She has an unparalleled ability to partner across the healthcare system, build high-performance teams, foster a culture of excellence, and create transformative solutions. Throughout her career, Heather has focused on the evaluation and improvement of the systems of clinical care delivery and redefining what it means to be a patient: engaged, empowered and understood.
Executive Lead, Social Impact & Global Initiatives, SE Health
Tazim Virani is a PhD prepared Registered Nurse working at SE Health as the Executive Lead, Social Impact & Global Initiatives. Her key role is to lead the social impact work on the future of aging towards a vision to forever impact the way we live and age at home across Canada and around the world. She is also the Executive Co-Lead of COURAGE: Action for Better Aging initiative that is focusing on changing the conversation and direction of aging in Canada. Tazim works collaboratively with partners in Canada and internationally on a number of key initiatives.
Professor, Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Arts
Anne Martin-Matthews is Professor of Sociology at The University of British Columbia, most recently serving as Associate Vice-President Health. Over a 40 year career, she has conducted research on social aspects of aging, and health and social care of older people. As Scientific Director of the Institute of Aging of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, she championed creation of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, and CIHR’s Summer Program in Aging. She is a member of the Board of AGEWELL: Canada’s Technology and Aging Network, and the Health Data Research Network Canada. In 2018, she was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada, for contributions to advancing research on aging.
President & CEO, Women’s College Hospital Foundation
Jennifer Bernard is a Certified Fund-Raising Executive that has held senior leadership positions within a variety of world-class organizations across the charitable and not-for-profit landscape, helping them achieve outstanding financial results and impacting communities nation-wide.
At the Ontario Science Centre Jennifer, was the first capital campaign manager in the institution’s history leading the OMNIMAX Capital Campaign, at The Royal Conservatory of Music she held numerous roles including Development Director, at Trillium Health Partners, the largest community hospital in Ontario, Jennifer established the Major Gift and Planned Giving programs and spearheaded two major capital campaigns, at McMaster Children’s Hospital, Ontario’s second largest children’s hospital, as VP Development, Jennifer led the team that helped to double revenue in support of the Children’s, Maternal & Infant programs as well as the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre.
Drawn to Women’s College Hospital’s mission of equity and vision to revolutionize healthcare, Jennifer is currently the President & CEO of Women’s College Hospital Foundation, supporting the inclusive vision of one of Canada’s oldest and most iconic healthcare institutions.
In addition to being the proud mother of two boys, Jennifer is an active public speaker and passionate volunteer and mentor She is the Chair-Elect for the Association of Fundraising Professionals GTC Chapter, the largest fundraising chapter in the world, a member of the Black North Initiative, CEO Pledge Committee, and a member of the International Women’s Forum Canada.
In December 2020, Jennifer was recognized as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada and presented with the Inclusion Vanguard Award by the Women’s Executive Network. This award recognizes an individual, regardless of their gender identity, who has made a profound, thoughtful and measurable impact on diversity within their organization and the broader community to achieve a stronger, more inclusive Canada. In 2018, Jennifer was also recognized as one of the 25 most influential women in Canada by Women of Influence, joining a list of trailblazing women who have had significant impact on Canadian society. In her spare time Jennifer enjoys spending time hiking trails, gardening and traveling.
Professor of the Sociology of Ageing in the Division of Psychiatry at University College London, United Kingdom Paul Higgs is Professor of the Sociology of Ageing in the UCL Division of Psychiatry
He has a degree in Sociology and a PhD in Social Policy. He has researched many aspects of the changing nature of later life including social divisions, dementia and personhood, consumption and technology. Professor Higgs edits the journal Social Theory and Health and has published widely in social gerontology and medical sociology. He is a Fellow of both the UK Academy of Social Sciences and the Gerontological Society of America.
Jim Grieve was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the RTOERO in 2015, an organization of 82,500 educators from the early years, K-12 and post-secondary systems, as well as school board employees across Canada. RTOERO is a bilingual trusted voice on healthy active living in the retirement journey. We deliver world-class programs, social engagement and political advocacy.
From 2009 to 2015, Jim was Assistant Deputy Minister of Early Years for the Ontario Ministry of Education, responsible for full-day kindergarten, child care and family support programs. He led the work of creating a seamless early learning experience for children from birth onward.
Following an exemplary career as a teacher and in educational leadership, Jim served as Director of Education for Ottawa-Carleton before heading up Peel District School Board, Canada’s second largest school board.
Jim holds a Master’s Degree from OISE/University of Toronto, along with undergraduate degrees from York University and Victoria College of the University of Toronto.
- Humber College awarded Jim an honorary degree in early childhood education in 2015.
- In 2015 the College of Early Childhood Educators awarded Jim its first every Honorary ECE designation.
- In 2014 he was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Government of Ontario.
- The International Association of Business Communicators named Jim 2013 Communicator of the Year.
- In 2016 the Canadian Association for Young Children presented Jim with the Friends of Children Award at its annual conference.
- Jim also was awarded the Spiral of Learning Award by the Ontario Reggio Association in November 2016.
Jim is delighted to meet with and promote the wonderful benefits of the rapidly growing RTOERO to prospective members throughout the broader education sector across Canada.