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Mobile lab to unlock bone-health secrets


Vancouver, BC – A mobile research lab, the first mobile lab of its kind in Canada, will travel to communities across British Columbia to visit senior, child, and adolescent health populations to collect information on mobility and bone health.

The unit cost around $500,000 including the truck and trailer, with an additional $500,000 to equip it. The mobile lab is funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) innovation fund, the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) and a number of private donors, including donors to the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, through a 40-40-20 split.

“The information we collect will identify trends in bone health and mobility across the lifespan,” said Dr Heather McKay, director, Centre for Hip Health and Mobility. “In other words, we can see how and why in certain age groups or communities bone health remains strong or deteriorates.”

The lab will allow researchers to conduct tests on participants that may include: bone imaging, physical activity, muscle function, falls risk, as well as cognitive function in seniors.

“This new mobile lab will enable researchers to perform their cutting-edge work,” said Dr Eliot Phillipson, president and CEO of the CFI. “The Centre for Hip Health and Mobility Mobile Research Lab is an impressive example of the type of partnerships that are essential to ensure Canada’s success in the knowledge-based economy and the CFI is proud to be a partner in this venture. This facility represents what the CFI is all about: providing the tools to institutions and researchers so that they can do the leading edge research that will benefit all Canadians.”

The mobile lab unit also houses state-of-the art equipment for bone-imaging, and falls risk screening tools for population-based research. The equipment in the lab is capable of evaluating bone mass and strength in 3-D, measuring total bone, fat and muscle mass in the body and, predicting the future risk of falls with 75% accuracy.