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:
1. Focus Areas of Action
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.
2. Gendered Ageism
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.
3. Long -term Care
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.
3. Optimizing prescribing
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.
To view our publications related to these pillars, view our resources tab.
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 Lead of Women’s Age Lab and part of Dr. Rochon’s team at Women’s College Research Institute. Joyce received her Honours 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
Stephanie Hatzifilalithis is the Research Coordinator III for the Healthy Cities Project Grant with Women’s Age Lab. She earned her PhD in Social Gerontology at McMaster University and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging. Stephanie has been awarded a SSHRC doctoral scholarship, Ontario Graduate/Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarships in Science and Technology, and a Wilson Leadership Scholar Award. Her work was focused on intergenerational dynamics, co-housing, and ageism and brings an interdisciplinary lens to challenges facing aging populations with a BSc Hons in Psychology from the International Faculty of The University of Sheffield and a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience from University College London, UK.
Kerry Bruner is the Project Manager for the Healthy Cities Implementation Science Team Grant. She received her Master of Arts degree from McMaster University in Health and Aging and she holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Sociology from the University of Windsor. Kerry has over 10 years of experience working in healthcare with a focus on person-centred care, engagement, and health system improvement. Kerry is dedicated to making health outcomes and experiences better for older adults by improving social determinants of health and maximizing quality of life.
Kendra Pamenter is Research Administrator to Dr. Paula Rochon, contributing to the efficient operation of the Women’s Age Lab. She is an experienced administrative assistant. She has held many diverse administrative roles; most recently managing a family medicine clinic. She is extremely detail oriented and understands the dynamics of working with a large team. She has over fifteen years of administrative experience. Kendra holds a degree from Ryerson University in Office Administration, certificate in Business Administration and diploma in Medical Administration.
Amanda Giancola is a Research Coordinator III with Women’s Age Lab. She holds a Master’s of Science in Global Health from McMaster University, and an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto. Amanda brings over five years of project coordination and healthcare research experience to the role, spanning topics from gender equality and women’s empowerment, to non-communicable diseases in children and adolescents.
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.
Carley Moore, MPH Student
Carley Moore is a first-year Master of Public Health Student at the University of Toronto, with a specialization in Aging, Palliative and Support Care Across the Life Course. Carley completed her BA (Hons) at the University of Toronto in 2018. While there, she was a double Major in Health Studies, and Ethics Society and Law with a minor in Political Science. Carley’s practicum will primarily be focused gendered ageism and health outcomes.
Prior to working at WCH, she worked in the space of seniors’ social isolation and intergenerational living for the Canada Homeshare program while working at the National Initiative for Care of the Elderly. She was also a Policy and Research Team Member at CanAge. In her work, she is passionate about researching intersectionality, equity, sexual health and overall wellbeing of older adults.
Serrina Philip, MPH Student
Serrina Philip is a first year Master of Public Health student at the University of Toronto completing a collaborative specialization in Aging, Palliative, and Support Care Across the Life Course. Serrina completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo, majoring in Public Health and minoring in Gerontology, Mental Health, and Health Policy. Her practicum will involve working on the Healthy Cities project grant on Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) and understanding best practices in developing a toolkit.
Throughout her employment, she had experiences working alongside older adults at the Bob Rumball Centre for the Deaf, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, L’Arche Daybreak, and the Aging Innovation Research Program. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to nurture, care for, and ensure the safety of older adults. These experiences enhanced her desire to work with older adults and sparked further interests in learning about the aging population.
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.
Past Chair, RTOERO Foundation
Joanne is a retired educator. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from McMaster University in Hamilton and a Master of Education from the University of Windsor. She began her career as a classroom teacher and then was appointed to an administrative role.
Upon her retirement Joanne joined RTOERO. She chaired several committees at both the local and provincial levels and, eventually, was elected President of RTOERO. It was during this time that the RTOERO Foundation was established. Joanne served as Chair of the Foundation for six years and is, currently, the Past Chair.
Recently, Joanne took part on an Advisory Committee at the National Institute on Aging where two presentations were developed. The focus of the first one was the types of Elder Abuse. The second one looked at Elder Abuse and Dementia. These were presented across Ontario and several other provinces. Joanne gave both presentations to several groups in person and by Zoom.
Joanne has a keen interest in the rights of all aging adults and, in particular, those of women. She participated in the Social Isolation Project led by Dr. Rachel Savage and has provided input to the Intersectoral Collaboration Committee.
In her own community Joanne serves on the Senior Advisory Committee and works closely with the Alzheimer’s Association.
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.
Tackling Gendered Ageism
- 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
Reimagining Aging in Place
- 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
Optimizing Drug Treatments
- 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.
- What You Need to Know About Prescribing Cascades
- Prescribing Cascades in Older Adults: A Guide for Healthcare Providers
- Evidence Brief to Healthcare Providers on Optimizing Pharmacotherapy & Preventing Prescribing Cascades in Older Adults
Promoting Social Connectedness
- 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