The Centre was founded in 1988 by Joan Walsh and Dr. Thomy Nilsson. Ms Walsh is currently Director of Nursing at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Chair of the Centre on Health & Aging Steering Committee. Dr. Nilsson is Professor of Psychology at UPEI and current Director of the Centre. Dr. Nilsson and Ms Walsh with assistance from Dr. Lamont Sweet, Chief Health Officer Government of PEI, and Dr. Pamela Forsyth, PEI Director of Mental Health, developed and submitted a proposal to Canada Health seeking funding to do a study on Alzheimer disease. The study would focus on a cohort involving a random 20% of Islanders over the age of 65, to determine incidence and risk factors of Alzheimer disease. They were unaware that a national consortium of medical faculties were being organized for the same purpose. Instead of receiving funding for the proposal they were invited to join the national consortium. As one of the few non-medical partners, the PEI Centre on Health & Aging was instrumental in re-directing the national effort to emphasize a cohort design and in broadening the scope of the national study to consider the impact of elderly dementia on caregivers.
Over the years the Centre has evolved positively, and other researchers have joined the Centre to focus on research in the field of aging. Other researchers include: UPEI faculty members from Family and Nutrition Science, Dr. Lori Weeks and Professor Deborah MacLellan; from Psychology: Dr. Annabel Cohen, Dr. Catherine Ryan and Dr. Albert Kozma retired from Memorial ; from the School of Nursing Marion MacKinnon; and from Sociology: Professor Judi Lynn Richards.