Heather McKay

Professor, Faculty of Medicine
PhD, University of Saskatchewan
Orthopaedics and Family Practice

Heather McKay's passion is to build interdisciplinary teams that challenge and drive agendas and through prevention, enhance health through physical activity at every age. To realize this vision, she led a team that acquired Canada Foundation for Innovation and government funds to build a $40M interdisciplinary research centre where she served as inaugural director (2006-16).

Heather's personal research program evaluates the positive role of a healthy lifestyle on child, youth and older adult health across settings—schools, community and the built environment. Thus, she conducts interventions that aim to effectively improve the health of individuals.


Primary Recipient Awards

Wall Scholars, Heather McKay, 2017

Heather McKay

Heather McKay noted the imbalance between resources invested in discovering new interventions, treatments or approaches versus investments made to discern how to deliver proven interventions effectively – and at scale. Only 14% of research is translated into practice and to do so takes 17 years on average. Thus, people may never be offered an intervention that may effectively improve their health. Therefore, with government and other partners, Heather seeks to evaluate how best to implement effective school-and community-based interventions at scale to positively affect health of populations
During Heather's tenure as a Wall Scholar she hosted a group of international scholars for a ‘think tank’, titled Implementation and Scale-up Think Tank: Linking frameworks, outcomes and measures to assess scale-up of health promotion interventions.

International Research Roundtables, Heather McKay, 2016

Heather McKay
Joanie Sims-Gould

Re-imagine Aging: Adding Life to Years
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Heather Anne McKay, Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Faculty of Medicine, UBC; Dr. Joanie Sims-Gould, Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Department of Family Practice, UBC

Wall Solutions, Heather McKay, 2013

Heather McKay
Wall Solutions

Transforming spaces, transforming lives: An integrated community partnership to enhance the health and mobility of older adults 

Principal Investigator: Heather McKay, School of Kinesiology, UBC

Partner Organizations: City of Vancouver, West End Seniors Network

The growing older adult population is at risk of a host of age-related health problems and faces increasing challenges in getting out and around in their community, which has major social and economic implications. The aging demographic will challenge cities to adapt the urban environment to be "age-friendly", to allow for people to live healthfully, comfortably and independently as they age.

This project capitalizes on a "natural experiment." The City of Vancouver has committed funds to adapt features of the built environment in downtown Vancouver along the Comox-Helmcken Greenway to create an environment that puts walking and cycling first (mobility) and that highlights the role of place-making (social spaces that build a sense of community). In partnership with the City, we are evaluating the process of creating and implementing community-informed built environment changes and will measure their impact on mobility and health outcomes of older adults. This project will produce new knowledge on the influence of the built environment on older adult mobility and health which can be mobilized into finding solutions to slow the course of mobility decline and social isolation faced by older adults, and guidelines for cities that wish to make "age-friendly" built environment changes.

Early Career Scholars, Heather McKay, 2001

Heather McKay

Co-principal Investigator Awards

International Visiting Research Scholars, Ben Shneiderman, 2018

Ben Shneiderman

International Visiting Research Scholars, Claudia Mitchell, 2018

Claudia Mitchell

International Visiting Research Scholars, David Lubans, 2017

David Lubans

Wall Solutions, Joanie Sims-Gould, 2014

Joanie Sims-Gould
Heather McKay
Wall Solutions

"I'd Rather Stay": Visual Media as a Catalyst to Engage Community around Developing Strategies to Support the Mobility and Health of Older People

Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Joanie Sims-Gould and Dr. Heather McKay, Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Faculty of Medicine UBC

Partner(s): Mr. Matt Herman, Healthy Living Branch, BC Ministry of Health

We seek solutions to the problem of mobility-disability in older people so as to support them living healthy, independent lives for as long as possible. Physically active older people enjoy and benefit from enhanced mobility. Our key partner-- BC Ministry of Health – identified physical activity of older adult as one priority for BC’s Physical Activity Action Plan. We have the opportunity to use a novel strategy (facilitated community forums and an impactful video that generates discussion) to directly inform the Action Plan and potentially impact every community in BC. Therefore we will; i) implement community-led forums in 6 diverse BC communities, to (ii) identify factors that help or hinder seniors’ physical activity and mobility, while building community capacity; (iii) generate a guideline document to support community action; (iv) evaluate impact and share our findings broadly. Ultimately, we aim to enhance the quality of life of older persons in BC.