The chair position, which McElhaney will fill, will be funded by the HSN Volunteer Association.
McElhaney is a professor of medicine and the Allan M. McGavin Chair in Geriatrics Research at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver.
She also leads the Vancouver Initiative to Add Life to Years (VITALiTY) Team at UBC, which is a multidisciplinary research team formed to identify risk factors for catastrophic disability in seniors, and also serves on the editorial boards of the publications Vaccine and the Journal of Immunology.
Her research interests include developing more effective influenza vaccines for senior citizens, and exploring the use of vaccines to either prevent or reduce the risk of disability and chronic disease in seniors.
She will continue that research here in Greater Sudbury.
“I focus on research that can be directly applied to people, especially seniors, in order to prevent illness and improve health,” McElhaney said.
The establishment of the Research Chair – to be called the HSN Volunteer Association Chair in Geriatric Research – marks the first chair in research for HSN. The HSN Volunteer Association has committed $150,000 a year for the next three years for a total of $450,000 for the position.
Since 2000, the HSN Volunteer Association has raised more than $1 million for patient care at HSN. The HSN Volunteer Association Chair in Geriatric Research represents the largest single donation for the association.
“We support HSN’s evolution as an academic health sciences centre,” Cliff Richardson, the president of the volunteer association, said in a press release.
“We also recognize the need to have more geriatric medicine specialists in our community to meet the growing demand for seniors health care, so we see this as a perfect fit for the Volunteer Association’s mandate and ongoing support of HSN and its programs.
“This Chair in Geriatric Research means we’ll have an international calibre physician and researcher practising medicine in our community and advancing research into seniors care.”
The purpose of the HSN Volunteer Association Chair in Geriatric Research will be to investigate and evaluate advances in geriatric medicine and seniors care.
The chair will explore such topics as improving the effectiveness of vaccination for older adults, developing vaccines that can prevent or reduce disability in senior citizens, and developing and evaluating models of hospital-based and community care that can reduce the risk of disability in seniors.
“Not only will the Chair in Research lead to advances in care for seniors, but it will also be a very powerful tool in the recruitment of more health professionals with a special interest in seniors care,’ Dr. Francisco Diaz-Mitoma, vice president of research at the hospital, said.
A research chair is a funded academic position designed to recognize excellence and advance knowledge in a particular field of study.
“I have spoken often of HSN being the Harvard of the North, and this is a large step in that direction,” Dr. Denis Roy, president and CEO of Health Sciences North, said in a press release.
“Most major breakthroughs in health care begin with research, and we believe this Chair in Geriatric Research will lead to national, and perhaps global, innovations in seniors care, right here in Sudbury.”