Nature vs. Nurture vs. Father Time

Why do some people age gracefully, while others encounter problems? With the population getting grayer, the time to find out is right now.

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By the time we hit 2050, 1 in 4 people are going to be over the age of 65. So it is surprising that we do not know very much about geriatric health and why some people age in a healthy way and other people do not. To solve this mystery, Parminder Raina, Professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics at McMaster University, is examining everything from the biology of aging to the social aspects of aging. By approaching aging as a multifaceted process and looking at how a person’s genetics interact with environmental factors such as air pollution, Prof. Raina is hoping to be able to determine whether that person is susceptible to developing certain diseases as they age.

Prof. Raina is also the lead investigator in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, one of the largest studies in Canada where 50,000 Canadians between the ages of 45 and 85 are being followed for the next 20 years. By gathering information on the participants’ economics, psychological health, physical health, social well-being, and biological environment they are hoping to better understand the aging process and the factors that shape the way we age.

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Parminder Raina is a Professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University. He specializes in the epidemiology of aging with emphasis on developing the interdisciplinary field of geroscience to understand the processes of aging from cell to society and was recently awarded a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Geroscience. Prof. Raina holds the inaugural Raymond and Margaret Labarge Chair in Optimal Aging and is the lead principal investigator of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. He is the Director of the CIHR funded McMaster Evidence Synthesis and Review Centre (MERSC). Prof. Raina holds several national and international grants and has published many peer-review reports and articles for national and international agencies, and in leading scientific journals. He is also a member of several national and international organizations. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Consortium on Health and Ageing Network of Cohorts in Europe and the United States (CHANCES) project funded by the European Union to integrate cohorts on ageing.


Allison Guy is a freelance science writer who is passionate about increasing scientific literacy and enhancing scientific discourse among the public. She holds a MSc in neuroscience from the University of Toronto and has been working as a drug development consultant for the pharmaceutical industry both domestically and abroad for the last 5 years. She is also a lecturer at Ryerson University in the Department of Chemistry and Biology and at the G. Raymond Chang School where she teaches pharmaceutical development and regulation.