My ultimate ambition is to better understand immunosenescence and immune dysregulation over the trajectory of aging, and how these changes relate to compromised health and quality of life in old age. This is particularly important since over the next several decades the world will undergo an unprecedented increase in the proportion of adults over the age of 65. Hence, strategies to promote healthy aging will be critical to minimize the social and economic burdens that are normally associated with elder care. Implicit to this goal is a continual advancement of our understanding of the biology of aging.
My research focus features a comprehensive approach that combines epidemiological techniques to identify inherent and modifiable risk factors of age-related disease and morbidity, and in vitro and ex vivo molecular methods to examine potential biological mechanisms. This approach often features immune and inflammation related soluble and cell-associated biomarkers that not only correlate with aging and/or age-related disease but also modify relevant cellular innate immune processes. I am closely involved with the scientific operations of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA, https://www.clsa-elcv.ca/), and largely employ this cohort to test my hypotheses regarding the aging of community-dwelling older adults. I am also interested in the unique immunological alterations that occur to the nursing home elderly, who are often of advanced-age, frail, and feature a number of comorbid conditions.
Specific research interests
- The identification and examination of biomarkers and other risk factors related to age-related disease and morbidities, such as: frailty, impaired mobility and cognitive impairment. Biomarkers include soluble (serum/plasma cytokines, acute phase proteins, nucleic acids, and other inflammation and immune related molecules) and cell-associated (peripheral blood leukocytes, host genetics and epigenetics (DNA methylation)) factors.
- Multivariate techniques related to the measurement of biological age and accelerated aging.
- Myeloid cell dysfunction with age (immunosenescence) and disease. Specifically, the phenotype and innate and anti-bacterial functions of peripheral blood monocytes.
- High-throughput assay development for the measurement of soluble factors and cellular phenotype in large epidemiological studies such as the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging.