SPA 2021 Calendar

This program was developed to be accessible in different time zones. Please note all program events listed below are in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). To convert the time to your country, click here.

Daily Program (including presentation slides)

Sunday, May 2, 2021

4 – 4:30 p.m. | Welcome to SPA 2021

  • Parminder Raina, Scientific Director, MIRA
  • Jane Rylett, Scientific Director, CIHR

4:30 – 6 p.m. | Tiny Campfire

Get to know your fellow SPA 2021 trainees by gathering around our virtual campfire. Our tiny campfire will include historic ghost stories, icebreaker games, and mini competitions. Energetic facilitators (we call them camp counselors) will help create high spirits, engagement, and shared memories during this virtual adventure. It’s all the fun of a real camp night, with no mosquito repellent required. Don’t forget the s’mores, included in your SPA 2021 backpack!

Both of our opening sessions today are sponsored by FORTE: Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Monday, May 3, 2021

11 – 11:50 a.m. | Introduction to Longitudinal Studies in Aging and the Role of Community Engagement in Research

  • Parminder Raina, PhD
  • Julia Abelson, PhD

11:50 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Break


12 – 12:50 p.m. | Welcome and Introduction to the CIHR Institute of Aging

  • Jane Rylett, PhD
  • Moderator: Parminder Raina, PhD

12:50 – 1 p.m. | Break


1 – 2 p.m. | Introduction to Design and Planning Longitudinal Studies

  • Susan Kirkland, PhD
  • Lauren Griffith, PhD
  • Andrew Costa, PhD
  • Moderator: Parminder Raina, PhD

2 – 2:30 p.m. | Break


2:30 – 4 p.m. | Working Session with Groups and Mentor

Discussions will cover: 

  • Study design  
  • Cohorts 
  • Publications and prework

Meet your mentor and discuss some of the major learning objectives from the day. You can also review the publications and prework you completed and determine how to get started on your SPA 2021 group assignment.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

11 – 11:50 a.m. | Program Design & Delivery: Grant Writing and Peer-Review Activities

  • Mary Fraser Valiquette, M.Sc.

Moderator: Joanne Goldberg, Assistant Director, CIHR Institute of Aging


11:50 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Break


12 – 12:30 p.m. | Themed Mentoring

Join your SPA 2021 mentors for small-group discussions on topics that go beyond the classroom. Topics may include:

  • Parenting and academia
  • Long-distance career moves
  • Advocacy and passion projects

12:30 p.m. – 12:40 p.m.| Break


12:40 – 1:30 p.m. | Major Initiatives in Aging from CIHR-IA

  • Howard Chertkow, MD
  • Verena Menec, PhD
  • David Hogan, MD
  • Moderator: Susan Kirkland, PhD

Gain an understanding of the major initiatives connected to the CIHR Institute of Aging: the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) and the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA), the Canadian Component of the CIHR Dementia Research Strategy.


1:30 – 2:15 p.m. | Indigenous Data Governance and Research Ethics

Jennifer Walker, PhD

Moderator: Susan Kirkland, PhD


2:15 – 2:30 p.m.| Break


2:30 – 4 p.m. | Working Session with Groups and Mentor

  • Grant writing
  • Research ethics
  • Data governance
  • Community and stakeholder engagement with rotating community members and stakeholders, facilitated by Brenda Vrkljan, PhD

Meet with your mentor and discuss some of the major learning objectives from the day. Apply that learning to your SPA 2021 group assignment.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

11 – 11:50 a.m. | Emerging Analytical Tools and Methodologies: New Statistical Methods for Longitudinal Data Analysis

  • Edwin Van den Heuvel, PhD
  • Moderator: Lauren Griffith, PhD

11:50 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Break


12 – 12:50 p.m. | Emerging Analytical Tools and Methodologies: Data Science and Big Data Analysis

  • Paul McNicholas, PhD
  • Moderator: Lauren Griffith, PhD

This session is sponsored by DELL Technologies


12:50 – 1 p.m.| Break


1 – 2 p.m. | Approaches to Data Harmonization

  • Scott Hofer, PhD
  • Isabel Fortier, PhD
  • Andrew Clegg, MD
  • Moderator: Edwin van den Heuvel, PhD

Explore opportunities for data harmonization and pooling across national and international longitudinal studies and understand advantages and disadvantages of the data harmonization of longitudinal studies.


2 – 2:30 p.m.| Break


2:30 – 4 p.m. | Working Session with Groups and Mentor

  • Analytical tools
  • Methodologies
  • Data science & big data
  • Data harmonization

Meet with your mentor and discuss some of the major learning objectives from the day. Apply that learning to your SPA 2021 group assignment.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

2 – 4 p.m. | Murder in the Speakeasy

Take a break from the academic program and join us for a 90-minute murder mystery, followed by some time to socialize with your SPA 2021 colleagues.

The year is 1923, prohibition is in full swing, and a young female socialite is found murdered in the Krazy Kat speakeasy. For this virtual murder mystery, you will work in teams to solve puzzles to unravel the story of what really happened that fateful night. Go back in time to the Roaring 20s to crack the case of Daisy Oei’s murder.

This event is our “fancy dress” event. Don’t forget your Zoom props for our themed group photo!

This session is sponsored by Forte: Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Friday, May 7, 2021

10 a.m. | Hopin Opens

Hop in to Hopin early to get comfortable on the platform before the virtual information and career fair begins at 11 a.m.


11 – 1 p.m. | Virtual Information and Career Fair

Get to know our SPA 2021 sponsors and partner platforms on Friday, May 7, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. Visit our virtual exhibit hall to learn more about potential future job opportunities and accessing data from longitudinal studies. Representatives will include: the CIHR Institute of Aging, the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, and companies such as Dell Technologies, Boehringer-Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd, Thermo Fisher Scientific, LVL Technologies, and VitalAire Canada Inc.

See all of our exhibitors here: https://spa2021.ca/sponsors/


2 – 4 p.m. | Virtual Book Club

Allan Karlsson is a reluctant centenarian. When it comes time to mark his 100th birthday, he climbs out the window of this retirement home and disappears. What ensues is a hilarious and unexpected journey – proving that you’re never too old and it’s never too late to seek adventure.

Join us for an engaging discussion of the bestselling book The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.

Don’t have time to read the book? Watch the movie instead (click here for the trailer).

Monday, May 10, 2021

11 – 11:50 a.m. | Interdisciplinary Approaches to Longitudinal Studies on Aging

  • Carol Brayne, MD
  • Martijn Huisman, PhD
  • Joanne Murabito, MD
  • Moderator: Parminder Raina, PhD

Join leaders of three international longitudinal studies on aging and discover the breadth and depth of research happening around the world.

Dr. Brayne is the Chief Investigator of the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFAS), which are large UK-based longitudinal multicentre studies looking at health and cognitive function in older people.

Dr. Huisman is the Scientific Director of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA), a Dutch nationally representative prospective study of aging that investigates the determinants and consequences of cognitive, emotional, physical, and social functioning related to aging.

Dr. Murabito is the Co-principal Investigator of the Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948, and has been following three generations of participants to investigate the common factors or characteristics that contribute to cardiovascular disease.

This session is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim


11:50 a.m. – 12 p.m.| Break


12 – 12:50 p.m. | Building a Successful Program of Research

  • Carol Brayne, MD
  • Martijn Huisman, PhD
  • James Kirkland, MD, PhD
  • Joanne Murabito, MD

Join leaders in longitudinal and interventional studies for small-group discussion on what it takes to build a successful program of research.

Trainees will be asked to sign up for their preferred session in advance.


12:50 – 1 p.m. | Break


1 – 2 p.m.| From Trainee to Independent Researcher: Tips for Success

  • Laura Anderson, PhD
  • Andrew Costa, PhD
  • Benoît Cossette, PhD
  • Marla Beauchamp, PhD
  • Moderator: Brenda Vrkljan, PhD

Learn from early and mid-career researchers about their journeys through academia.


2 – 2:30 p.m. | Optional casual mentoring (breakout rooms)

Join your SPA 2021 mentors for small-group discussions on topics that go beyond the classroom. Topics may include:

  • Parenting and academia
  • Long-distance career moves
  • Advocacy and passion projects

2:30 – 4 p.m. | Working Session with Groups and Mentor

  • International cohorts
  • Building a program of research
  • Career paths in academia

Meet with your mentor and discuss some of the major learning objectives from the day. Apply that learning to your SPA 2021 group assignment.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

11 – 11:50 a.m. | Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Health Research Funding System

  • Nicola Lauzon, M.Sc.
  • Moderator: Susan Rogers, CIHR Institute of Aging

11:50 a.m. – 12 p.m.| Break


12 – 12:50 p.m. | The Role of Health Research Evidence in Supporting Policy Decisions and Initiatives

  • Simone Powell, MA, MSW
  • Moderator: Lauren Griffith, PhD

12:50 – 1 p.m. | Break


1 – 2 p.m.| Knowledge Translation and Communicating your Research

  • Knowledge Translation Strategy in Longitudinal Research on Aging, Jennifer Boyko, PhD
  • Media Relations 101, David Coulombe
  • Science in the Twitterverse: How social media can further your research career, Kara Aaserud & Laura Lawson

2 – 2:30 p.m. | Break


2:30 – 4 p.m. | Working Session with Groups and Mentor

  • Equity, diversity and inclusion
  • Research evidence & policy-making
  • Knowledge translation
  • Communicating your research

Meet with your mentor and discuss some of the major learning objectives from the day. Apply that learning to your SPA 2021 group assignment.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

11 a.m. – 1:20 p.m. | Group Presentations

Time to show us everything you’ve learned this week. Each group will have 10 minutes to present their group projects and answer a few questions about their research proposals.


1:20 – 1:30 p.m. | Break


1:30 – 2:30 p.m. | SPA Trivia

Join us for some wildly smart questions with unique game mechanics in a way that builds meaningful connections. We’ll test you on some general trivia, as well as how well you know your fellow SPA 2021 trainees!

This session is sponsored by DELL Technologies


2:30 – 3 p.m. | Break


3 – 4 p.m.| So Long, SPA 2021

  • Closing remarks
  • Feedback
  • Awards and prizes

SPA 2021 might be over, but we hope the connections you made will continue long after our last Zoom meeting. This is your chance to provide us with feedback about the event. What worked? What didn’t? What is the one thing that would make SPA 2022 a virtual sensation? Our final session will conclude with some awards and prizes for our 2021 cohort.

This session is sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific