Leaders in aging research renewed as Schlegel Research Chairs

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Kinesiology Professor Heather Keller and George Heckman, a professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems, are being renewed as Schlegel Research Chairs with the Research Institute for Aging (RIA).

Heather KellerKeller is Chair of Nutrition and Aging, and Heckman is Chair of Geriatric Medicine. The renewal of these appointments recognizes not only their immense academic achievements, but also their commitment to enhancing the quality of life and care of older adults.

Keller is both a researcher and registered dietitian, and her work is focused on improving older adults’ nutrition for optimal health. She also explores and advocates for the importance of food and mealtimes for overall well-being.

George HeckmanHeckman focuses on developing and evaluating new care approaches that put individuals and their families first while promoting integrated, proactive care and optimal use of health care resources. In addition to his research role, Heckman is a practicing geriatrician in the Waterloo region.

Keller was appointed as a Schlegel Research Chair in 2012 and this renewal marks the beginning of her third five-year term, ending in 2026. Her programs of research span from acute care to long-term care and retirement and community living. As co-chair of the Canadian Malnutrition Task Force from 2009--2018, Keller was instrumental in changing nutrition care practices across the country for those recovering in hospital. These new approaches are also being picked up and implemented internationally.

“Being the Nutrition Aging Research Chair has been the highlight of my career and has helped establish innovations that would not otherwise have happened in Canada,” Keller said. “This renewal will allow me to continue my work, leading national and international initiatives to improve the health and well-being of older adults across all sectors of care.”

Heckman led the development of the Core Heart Team program, where team members and physicians in long-term care receive education and support to better detect, diagnose and manage heart failure. He is also a primary panelist on the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Consensus Conference Recommendations on Heart Failure and a fellow of interRAI, an international not-for-profit scientific organization dedicated to the development of information systems for vulnerable populations. He began his appointment in 2010 and will continue in his role until the end of 2024.

“The opportunities afforded by this chair, the RIA and Schlegel Villages are unique in Canada,” said Heckman. “They are ideal for a clinician scientist focused on the seamless and sustainable implementation of interprofessional practice into a very busy long-term care environment.”