Heather McKay

Degrees / Designations 


Mailing Address 
Centre for Hip Health and Mobility 7/F, 2635 Laurel Street Vancouver, BC


Academic Appointment 
Body Locations and Systems 
Bones, Joints and Muscles
Other Areas of Research 
Adult chronic disease antecedents in children and interventions to ameliorate chronic disease risk factors
Design and implementation of effective physical activity interventions to promote older adult health and mobility
The role of the built environment in promoting or inhibiting the health and mobility of older adults
Knowledge mobilization of research

Professor McKay is known internationally for her study of: (i) myriad factors (e.g. physical activity) that influence the health of children and mobility, social connectedness and overall health of older adults; (ii) design, implementation/scale-up and evaluation at sccale of effective community-based health promoting interventions, and (iii) knowledge mobilization. Professor McKay convenes highly effective, interdisciplinary research teams. She connects academic scholars with cross-sectoral community and government stakeholders to “move research into action” to enhance the health of children and older adults. Professor McKay led eight CIHR and Peter Wall Institute of Advanced Studies teams that focused on aspects of older adult health (>$10M grant funding) in different settings (e.g. home, community, built environment). 

Professor McKay was inaugural Director (2006-16), Centre for Hip Health & Mobility, a  multidisciplinary, $40M CFI funded centre that aimed to enhance mobility and health across the life course. More recently she co-led UBC’s Healthy Aging Research Excellence cluster that convened 200 researchers, 50 trainees and 50 community partners across 10 academic disciplines to ignite collaboration in healthy aging research. She leads an Implementation Science Team (MSFHR funded) at UBC. She has hosted three international implementation and scale-up science think tanks in Canada (2017, 2019) and Australia (2018). She is on the Editorial Board of the newly minted implementation science journal, Implementation Research and Practice.  

In recognition of her academic scholarship and community engagement, Professor McKay received a CIHR Knowledge Translation Award, a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award. and was inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (2018).

Current Projects 

Professor McKay is Active Aging Research Team lead scientist. Based on her >15-year collaboration with BC Min of Health she currently leads a multi-level partnership (researchers, government, health authorities and NGOs) to enact Active Aging BC (ABC). ABC has engaged 32,466 seniors in targeted health promoting programs, trained 1,820 health leaders and facilitated 113 organizations to deliver and partner on ABC initiatives. Professor McKay’s team is currently scaling up and evaluating ABC’s signature program--Choose to Move --across BC.  Choose to Move effectively enhanced physical activity, mobility and decreased social isolation and loneliness in older adults who participated.