Patient Partners

The MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging is designed to support patient-oriented research in aging. We aim to engage older adults as patient, caregiver and public research partners in all activities of the Collaborative to ensure that the needs, perspectives and aspirations of older adults are reflected in our work.

Our Approach: Building Capacity

We recognize that getting to know our patient partners is paramount to optimizing our approaches and ensuring positive engagement experiences. We have developed a virtual forum, where we as researchers, trainees and staff can learn about the unique aging lens our patient partners bring to the Collaborative.

Meet our Team of Patient Partners

Tina Falbo

Tina Falbo joined the MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging in 2019. She is a McMaster Humanities Alumni and retired teacher from the Hamilton Wentworth School Board. Tina was a full-time caregiver to both of her elderly parents for several years until their recent passing. She has an interest in healthy aging as well as a genuine desire to make a difference and improve the lives of older adults. Tina is interested in sharing her experiences and learning from a formidable team of world class experts.

Joyce Luyckx

Joyce Luyckx joined the MIRA | Collaborative in 2019. She enjoyed a career as a senior executive in finance and held several management roles in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. Joyce is a co-caregiver of her elderly parents and recently assumed the role of care partner to her spouse. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was an active volunteer at Maple Villa Long Term Care Centre in Burlington, ON. Joyce is a firm believer in continuous learning and she is interested in improving the lives of older adults as well as understanding how research can positively shape and address the growing needs of the aging population.

Donna Weldon

Donna Weldon joined the MIRA | Collaborative in 2019. Volunteer work has always been important to her and, pre-pandemic, Donna was engaged in a number of volunteer activities. As much as she enjoyed that work, as a retired health professional, Donna missed the opportunity to learn new things and exchange ideas with colleagues about research. The Collaborative offers her this opportunity as well as the chance to apply her knowledge, skills and experiences to influence policy impacting older adults.

Penelope Petrie

Penelope Petrie joined the MIRA | Collaborative in 2019. She is a retired teacher and a lifelong learner. Penelope is a volunteer with a number of organizations in Hamilton and McMaster University that focus on issues impacting older adults. She joined the Collaborative because it offers several opportunities to learn about aging research, influence health policy, and promote healthy aging. Penelope’s goal is to ensure best practices are being implemented in communities in need.

Our History

Two established research platforms of McMaster University collaborate to address the diverse needs of Ontario’s older adult population and fill the gap in aging expertise for patient-oriented researchers in Ontario.

Older adults range in age from 65 to 105 and represent widely varying health and social needs, yet this growing cohort is often grouped in one category. Just as a 10-year-old would not be compared to a 30-year-old when conducting research, a 65-year-old and a 95-year-old should not be either. To address the diverse needs of Ontario’s older adult population, two established research platforms of McMaster University, the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA) and the McMaster School of Nursing’s Aging, Community and Health Research Unit (ACHRU), formed the MIRA | Collaborative for Health and Aging.

The Collaborative is a network of 15 health research centres across the province that provide scientific knowledge and support high quality patient-partnered research with the goal of improving health and the health system. In 2019, the Collaborative received $300,000 in 2019 from the Ontario SPOR SUPPORT Unit (OSSU) to establish its activities over the course of this year.

By supporting and advancing patient and caregiver-partnered research in aging, the Collaborative seeks to advance Ontario’s health care system and enhance health system performance and patients’ experiences. By addressing the unique needs of older adults and their caregivers through resources, consultation supports, data access, and technical services, the new research centre will position Ontario as a leader in patient-oriented research in aging.

Co-scientific Directors:

The co-leads of the Collaborative are the scientific directors of MIRA and ACHRU respectively, Parminder Raina and Maureen Markle-Reid. Raina is a professor of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact (HEI) at McMaster and lead investigator of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA).  Markle-Reid is also a professor in nursing at McMaster and holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Person-Centered Interventions for Older Adults with Multimorbidity and their Family Caregivers.

Parminder Raina

Scientific Director, MIRA
Professor, HEI, McMaster University

“The focus of the collaborative is on supporting older adults in our research, knowing that there is no typical older person. In the same way you wouldn’t compare a 10-year-old to a 30-year-old, you cannot compare a 65-year-old to a 95-year-old.”

-Parminder Raina

“We are looking forward to working with stakeholders from across Ontario to develop a robust research agenda that engages patients and their families and improves the health and well-being of older people.”

-Maureen Markle-Reid

Maureen Markle-Reid

Scientific Director, ACHRU
Professor, School of Nursing, McMaster University

Organizational structure

The Collaborative’s organizational structure draws upon expertise from researchers, knowledge users, trainees, patients and caregivers, and staff.  ​It ensures that objectives are realized, resources are well managed, and the interests of all ​stakeholders— members, partners, and end users–are protected and reflected in key decisions. ​Governance structures and systems are as follows: 

Click on the bubbles bellow for more information on our areas of expertise:

Scientific Co-leads

Parminder Raina

Scientific Director, McMaster Institute for Research on Aging (MIRA)

Maureen Markle-Reid

Scientific Director, Aging, Community and Health Research Unit (ACHRU)

Program Coordinator

Jennifer Salerno

Research Associate, School of Nursing, McMaster University

Our Funder

The MIRA | Collaborative for Health & Aging is one of the 15 research centres that makes up the Ontario Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Support Unit (OSSU). These organizations work together, and in concert with the OSSU Coordinating Centre, to provide Ontario’s health system stakeholders with the infrastructure, scientific knowledge and technical support needed to conduct patient-oriented research, and to inform and implement more effective health policy and clinical practices throughout the province.

The Collaborative supports and facilitates relationships with older adults, researchers, health system decision-makers and health care providers across Ontario to accelerate patient-oriented point-of-care improvements that are based on evidence and co-designed with older Ontarians, frontline providers and policy makers. We continue to build capacity for the province and support researchers and other stakeholders to conduct patient-oriented research by developing
resources and supports and offering consultation services.

Supports we can provide:

  • Access to Data Platforms and Services
  • Methods Support & Development
  • Health Systems, Knowledge Translation and Implementation
  • Real World Clinical Trials
  • Career Development
  • Consultation and Research Services
  • Patient Engagement in Research

Click here to learn more about the Ontario SPOR Support Unit


The Collaborative currently engages trainees (post-doctoral, doctoral and masters) in the areas of patient engagement, patient-centred innovations and capacity building. Trainees have contributed to several activities of the Collaborative including the development of the systematic review and online learning module and the evaluation of capacity building activities.