The Centre for Aging SMART (Solutions for Mobility, Activity, Rehabilitation and Technology) at Vancouver Coastal Health is a University of British Columbia affiliated, internationally recognized research centre focused on developing novel strategies that promote physically active choices that positively influence mobility. Mobility in turn influences the health of our bones, our joints, our muscles, our hearts, our brains and many other systems in our bodies at every age. Our interdisciplinary team of researchers, clinicians, students, staff and community partners, work together to implement, evaluate and disseminate solutions to some of our health care system’s most pressing and expensive problems.

The Centre for Aging SMART at VCH is one of the 15 Major Research Programs supported by the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and one of 23 Senate approved centres and institutes within the Faculty of Medicine (FOM) at UBC.

The Centre for Aging SMART at VCH is home to state-of-the-art imaging suite with clinical (DXA), research (HR-pQCT, pQCT, microCT) instruments and an upright open MRI, as well as, a dedicated image analysis lab, exercise prescription lab, surgical solutions lab, histology and microscopy suite, tissue culture facility, molecular and biochemical laboratories, bioengineering facility, machine shop, population health, registry labs, mobility assessment suite, bone health lab and a mobile laboratory equipped with clinical imaging instruments and a phlebotomy suite.

Originally branded as the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, the Centre was created in 2004 to formalize the collaboration between investigators with expertise in previously independent areas of study who wished to address key issues related to mobility-disability in a comprehensive and integrated way.

LEAP study

We aim to improve the health, well-being and quality of life of both young and old in the short-term and to reduce the serious impact of debilitating and costly mobility-related health problems facing our society in the longer term. Ultimately, we seek to provide Canadians with the joy, freedom and independence that comes with mobility, at every age.

We see this need as dire.

In Canada, older adults will soon outnumber children, and within the next 30 – 40 years, there will be two adults over age 65 for every child under the age of 15. There will be a greater increase in the proportion of adults over age 80 than any other age group.


Falls-related injuries and bone and joint diseases are significant burdens, both to our health care system and to our society in general. Annual costs for musculoskeletal diseases in Canada are over $16 billion. For example, osteoarthritis (OA), a painful degenerative joint disease that limits the performance of even simple daily tasks, affects 85% of Canadians over age 75.

Joint replacement surgery is currently the only effective treatment for advanced OA. Osteoporosis is a potentially crippling disease that affects 25% of women and 12% of men over age 50. The complications of osteoporosis include hip fracture, and people with osteoporosis suffer painful vertebral fracture with minimal or no trauma. Hip fractures result in death in approximately 20% of individuals, and disability in 50% of those who survive. 95% of hip fractures are the result of a fall, and 70% of hip fractures are osteoporosis-related.

The prevalence of osteoarthritis (OS) in Canada is 2.5 times greater than heart disease and 6 times greater than cancer.