During 2005-2015, Dr. Robert Petrella was the inaugural  Beryl and Richard Ivey Research Chair, as well as Program Leader for the former Aging, Rehabilitation, and Geriatric Care Program of the Lawson Health Research Institute, now referred to as the Parkwood Institute Research Program.

His research expertise includes the laboratory and community-based study of the determinants of lifestyle intervention in chronic disease prevention, management and control. His research is dedicated to furthering multi- and inter-disciplinary research on aging, physical activity, lifestyle management, chronic diseases, and innovative technologies to improve the quality of life of older individuals. His research spans a bench-to-bedside approach, including new discoveries related to the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases of aging, such as the treatment of cardiovascular complications, hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, mobility rehabilitation, and the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis and hip fractures.

Dr. Petrella was an internal committee member for CIHR Research and Development, CIHR’s Institute of Circulation and Respiratory Health and Steering Committee member for the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP).  He was Principal Investigator for the SNAC (Staged Nutrition and Activity Counseling Trial), which is a fully accredited educational activity of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.  Dr. Petrella was nominated Principal Investigator for CIHR-Tekes Team Grant (Canada-Finland) in prevention of cardiovascular complications of diabetes. He is also the Principal Investigator for Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Canadian Diabetes Strategy: Healthesteps  and for Movember Foundation’s Chronic Disease Innovation Challenge: “Hockey Fans In Training”.  In addition, Dr. Petrella has been active as a co-investigator in many hypertension outcomes trials as well as involved in many national and international committees including consensus conferences in hypertension, diabetes, osteoarthritis and physical activity including the launch of Canada’s Guide for Physical Activity.

Professional and Academic Experience

Dr. Petrella is Medical Director of the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging, and a Clinical Specialist in Hypertension with the American Society of Hypertension”. He is a past-president of the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control. He currently holds memberships in Professional Societies, and serves on Advisory Boards, Journal Review Boards and Granting Agency Review Boards. He also consults and advises extensively within industry and the community.

Degrees and Qualifications

  • BSc Hons., MA PhD and Fellowship Kinesiology (Western University)
  • MD (University of Calgary)
  • Diploma in Care of the Elderly (Western University)
  • Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC)
  • Fellow American College of Sports Medicine (FACSM)
  • Fellow College of Family Physicians of Canada (FCFP)


Physician, Professor


  • 2006-present: Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry; cross appointments in the Departments of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; Medicine (Division of Cardiology); Faculty of Health Sciences (School of Kinesiology)
  • 2000-present: Medical Director, Canadian Centre for Activity & Aging, Lawson Health Research Institute

Administrative Support


Research Group


Research Interest Area 

Community medicine
Exercise and physical activity
Aging and geriatric care

Research Overview

Dr. Petrella’s research has created & integrated innovative training, tools, & technologies for lifestyle-based chronic disease prevention & management at points of care. Current programs include HeatheSteps, a lifestyle Rx program supported by innovative technologies (supported by PHAC’s Canadian Diabetes Strategy & Hockey Fans In Training, a male-sensitized, sport oriented weight loss & healthy lifestyle intervention (supported by Movember Canada).

Petrella’s vision is to leverage the capacity of research Networks, Program Experts, trainees & partners to strengthen & translate these programs, using researchable, interactive data analytics platforms; emerging health technologies; and robust pragmatic designs that include evaluation of feasibility, effectiveness and cost. His research is poised to find innovative ways to engage those at risk, (where they live, work & play), with the goal of achieving scalable, measurable, immediate and long-term improvements in health outcomes, & tangible effects on training, practice, & policy.



health behaviour modification, health technology, health promotion, chronic disease prevention, pragmatic randomized controlled trials, aging, hypertension, exercise prescription


Dr. Petrella holds research funding from various agencies including the CIHR, Canadian Diabetes Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Health Canada’s Population Health Fund, Movember Foundation, MITACS, NSERC, Public Health Agency of Canada, Sykes, industry-sponsored clinical trials, and has over 200 original publications in peer-reviewed journals.  

Other Professional Roles and Affiliations

2005-2015:  Assistant Director, Lawson Health Research Institute; 2005-2015: Beryl & Richard Ivey Research Chair, Aging, Rehabilitation & Geriatric Care, Lawson2005-2015: Program Leader, Aging, Rehabilitation & Geriatric Care, Lawson Health Research Institute

2000-2012: Program Leader, Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Program, St. Joseph’s Health Care

2002-2007CIHR Investigator Chair in Healthy Lifestyle: Healthy Aging