Scientific Management Team

The CLSA Scientific Management Team (SMT) is the principal decision-making body of the CLSA, providing overall scientific leadership and primary responsibility for oversight of all CLSA activities.

The SMT meets at least weekly via teleconference and in-person six times a year to review and monitor all aspects of study progress and to oversee:

  • Strategic planning and priority setting for scientific direction and output;
  • Development of strategic partnerships and mechanisms to ensure ongoing funding of the study;
  • Development of the strategy for managing change in the research team and other personnel;
  • Engaging the CLSA Scientific Advisory Board and Operations Committee to develop plans for integrating future technological changes required for a study of this length and magnitude;
  • Engaging with the CLSA Information Technology (IT) team to develop IT solutions for data storage, security, management and access;
  • Engaging the Ethical Legal and Societal Implications committee and the Primary and Secondary Data Access and Utilization Committee for privacy, confidentiality and data access aspects of the CLSA;
  • Management and storage of data in collaboration with the IT team;
  • Management of the CLSA supported intellectual property;
  • Budgetary and financial aspects of the CLSA and budget projections;
  • Communications and knowledge translation;
  • Ethics, security and privacy;
  • Capacity building and training; and
  • Strategic decisions related to the maintenance and operation of the infrastructure.

The SMT is composed of the CLSA Lead Principal Investigator, Co-principal Investigators and the CLSA Managing Director. The CLSA Associate Scientific Directors are ex-officio members of the SMT.

The SMT is supported by the Advisory Council and Scientific Advisory Board. As such, the SMT holds overarching scientific and operational oversight. The SMT also liaises with the CIHR-established Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues Committee and CIHR's Oversight Committee as required. The SMT will present an annual report reflecting mutually established performance indicators and research progress to the CIHR Oversight Committee as part of the accountability framework.

The Operations Committee and Data and Sample Access Committee report to the SMT.

Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is composed of leading researchers in aging and health from around the world. This multidisciplinary board provides advice and direction regarding the succession plan, science, managing technology change, and data storage and use mandates of the CLSA. They share their expertise on scientific, logistic, and ethical issues to assist in meeting the study aims.

The SAB advises and provides direction to SMT on:

  • Strategic plans and priorities;
  • International best practices for longitudinal research;
  • Scientific and operational challenges including personnel change, integrating new technologies and data management; and
  • Integrative aspects of the research program including knowledge translation, the training of highly qualified personnel, and international relations.

The Board holds one face-to-face meeting and two teleconferences per year. Members serve a three-year term, with the possibility of re-appointment.

CLSA Advisory Council

The CLSA Advisory Council provides overall guidance and advice to the Scientific Management Team on policy and promotional aspects of the study. Responsibilities include identifying and promoting opportunities for ongoing funding for the research operations. Members of the advisory council are expected to advocate for the CLSA in the public and private sectors, and to establish mechanisms to ensure that the outcomes of the CLSA research are disseminated, adopted and integrated into health and social care policies, both economic and social.

The Advisory Council provides advice on:

  • Overall governance of the CLSA;
  • The processes for managing change in research leadership of the study;
  • Risk management;
  • Study promotion;
  • Adding value through the research platform;
  • Knowledge generation to inform policy development;
  • Knowledge uptake; and
  • Long-term sustainability of the study through public or private partnerships.

The CLSA Advisory Council will have broad-based membership of 10 to 12 members, including key stakeholders from federal and provincial governments, representatives from health charities and the private sector, and lay members. 

Members of the advisory council will be selected by SMT and will meet annually and have quarterly teleconferences. Members serve a three-year term, with the possibility of re-appointment.

Data and Sample Access Committee

The Data and Sample Access Committee (DSAC) is the body responsible for the review of applications for access to, and use of, data and/or biological samples, collected as part of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. The committee will function in accordance with the CLSA policies, guidelines and procedures for data and sample access. It will give recommendations to the CLSA Scientific Management Team (SMT).

The committee is composed of at least eight independent members appointed by the SMT in consultation with the CLSA Advisory Council. The members will be nominated for a period of two years with the possibility of renewal for a maximum of three consecutive mandates.

The DSAC will meet four times per year (or as needed) to review submitted applications.


Operations Committee

The Operations Committee (OC) is the primary CLSA scientific and study implementation advisory committee. The mandate of the OC includes the development, operation and maintenance of the CLSA infrastructure and equipment central to the functioning of the CLSA and the day-to-day field operations.

This committee provides the principal mechanism for regular communications between the CLSA’s enabling sites (National Coordinating Centre, Biorepository and Bioanalysis Centre, Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) Sites, Data Collection Sites, Genetics and Epigenetics Centre, and Statistical Analysis Centre), the local site principal investigators and the directors to communicate on a regular basis, allowing for ongoing troubleshooting and problem-solving related to the scientific and functional operations of the study, as well as to reinforce optimal usage, access and identification of maintenance and upgrade requirements. The Operations Committee will serve as a vehicle to promote integrative research and training of highly qualified personnel. 

The Operations Committee will support CLSA’s enabling sites’ operations and the committee will meet regularly to:

  • Review operations and problem solve, as needed, to maximize the functioning and efficiencies of the enabling sites, and to study protocols and standard operating procedures;
  • Review operations and problem solve, as needed, the ongoing performance of individual enabling sites and the maintenance of infrastructure and equipment at the sites;
  • Support the activities of the Training and Research Capacity Committee and the Knowledge Translation and Communications Committee;
  • Promote the training mandate within and across CLSA’s enabling sites, support the integration of consistent communications within and across enabling sites, and oversee strategies for communications with the larger scientific community; and
  • Ensure that CLSA policies and procedures are implemented in a consistent manner across enabling sites to meet or exceed best practices in the areas of privacy, security and research.

The composition of the OC is determined according to infrastructure representation within the CLSA. Members are those key to the oversight and functioning of the local infrastructure. Enabling sites’ local principal investigators and directors will identify delegates, preferably enabling co-local site investigators and co-directors, to attend on their behalf if necessary. The chairs of the two standing sub-committees, the Training and Research Capacity Committee and the Knowledge Translation and Communications Committee, are part of the OC by invitation.

The chair of the Operations Committee shall be a local site principal investigator or director selected from the membership. The chair will serve a three-year term and will be selected by the OC.

The OC will meet monthly via teleconference or video conference, and at least once annually face-to-face.

The OC reports to the Scientific Management Team, via the chair. In addition to its two standing sub-committees the OC can strike ad hoc committees as required.

Training and Research Capacity Committee

The Training and Research Capacity Committee (TRCC) is responsible for providing advice to the Operations Committee on education, research capacity and mentorship activities that support the objectives of the CLSA. The long-term goal of the committee is to establish an innovative, interdisciplinary training environment for the ongoing engagement of new researchers, maximizing the use of the CLSA platform as a rich resource for current and future Canadian scientists.

The TRCC is a standing sub-committee of the CLSA Operations Committee, which provides recommendations to the CLSA Scientific Management Team. Members of the committees can be drawn from the CLSA investigator team, or the broader scientific community, as required.

The Training and Research Capacity Committee is responsible for:

  • Producing a framework for the development of training and research capacity activities;
  • Advancing training and research capacity within the CLSA;
  • Raising awareness of the potential opportunities that the CLSA provides for trainees and emerging researchers;
  • Informing existing institutional programs in aging and health about the potential opportunities for research and training within the CLSA;
  • Exploring structures for bringing new trainees and researchers into the CLSA;
  • Promoting skills training and career building relevant to cross-disciplinary, longitudinal research;
  • Developing recommendations for training activities and roles; and
  • Seeking and advocating for funding mechanisms to support a CLSA training and research capacity building initiative.

The TRCC will meet three times a year and as needed at the call of the chair or vice-chair. Meetings will be held through teleconference or videoconference.

Knowledge Translation and Communications Committee

The Knowledge Translation and Communications Committee (KTCC) is the primary body responsible for initiating and facilitating knowledge translation and communications activities that support the objectives of the CLSA. It is a standing sub-committee of the CLSA Operations Committee, which provides recommendations to the CLSA Scientific Management Team.

The KTCC is composed of five voting members who are appointed by the CLSA Operations Committee (OC) for a term of two years.

The composition will include individuals, both internal and external to the CLSA, with knowledge translation expertise as well as representatives of key target audiences such as researchers, health-care providers and policy-makers. The KTCC will include at least one member of the OC.

The committee is supported by the CLSA communications officer who, as a non-voting member, will assist in coordinating the activities of the committee and maintaining documentation in collaboration with the chair. The committee will also include a representative from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the CLSA managing director, both of whom will be non-voting members. Both the chair and vice-chair will be chosen from the committee members through a two-person nominating committee appointed by the KTCC.

The Knowledge Translation and Communications Committee will be responsible for:

  • Producing a framework for the evaluation of knowledge translation activities;
  • Facilitating the dissemination and uptake of CLSA research findings by creating a knowledge translation action plan that includes identifying potential audiences for CLSA research findings, and developing recommendations for knowledge translation activities and tools;
  • Developing strategies to work effectively with a wide range of potential partners to disseminate and translate the research findings of the CLSA;
  • Conducting research to determine the optimal methods of knowledge dissemination and uptake of CLSA findings; and
  • Otherwise advising the CLSA Operations Committee in the area of knowledge translation and communications. 

The Knowledge Translation and Communications Committee will meet four times per year and as needed at the call of the chair or vice-chair. Meetings can be face-to-face or through teleconference/videoconference.

CIHR Ethical, Legal and Social Issues Committee

The mandate of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Advisory Committee on Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) for the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) is to:

  1. provide independent, critical advice to the Scientific Management Team leading the CLSA on actions and best practices to address ethical, legal and social issues during the five-year implementation phase of the CLSA;
  2. contribute to the advancement of ELSI knowledge related to the CLSA and similar CIHR-funded, population-based, longitudinal studies, databases and biobanks; and
  3. disseminate ELSI knowledge to the external community of relevant stakeholders.

Further information about the Advisory Committee on Ethical, Legal and Social Issues for the CLSA can be found at:

Working Groups

The CLSA Working Groups play in important role in the creation of scientific content for the CLSA, and are ambassadors for promoting the CLSA in the scientific and policy communities.

Social Health Working Group
Domains: Social networks and social support, work and retirement, stability and change of place, structural inequalities, perspectives of aging as a social process, basic social characteristics.

Psychological Working Group
Domains: Cognitive, everyday competence, adaptive functioning, coping, personality, emotion, psychopathology, values, pain, sleep

Lifestyle and Nutrition Working Group
Domains: Weight fluctuations, nutritional risk, dietary supplement, physical activity, smoking, alcohol use

Health Services Working Group
Domains: Continuing care, home support, long-term care institutions, acute care, primary care, administrative data sources

Clinical Working Group
Domains: Cardio/Cerebrovascular (stroke, hypertension, myocardial infarction, angina); Metabolic (diabetes, hypothyroidism); Musculoskeletal (osteoporosis, osteoarthritis - hand, knee, hip); Neuropsychological (dementia, Parkinson's disease, disability, depression); Respiratory (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma)

Biomarker/Genetic/Epigenetic Working Group
Domains: Biological markers, genetic and epigenetic markers, clinical chemistry, quality management system

Methodology Working Group
Domains: Choosing the sample, computing sample weights, identifying (and if necessary developing) appropriate statistical methods for analysis

Medications Working Group
Domains: Prescription and non-prescription medications, medication list (including medication name, dosage, frequency, duration, and reason for use), medication data cleaning algorithms