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Entries open for the 2022 Ryman Prize

Written by Ryman Prize Foundation
on March 11, 2022


Richest prize of its kind to reward the best work in the world for older people 

The search is on for the best work in the world that has enhanced quality of life for older people. 

Entries are now open for the 2022 Ryman Prize, the only award of its kind which is targeted at improving the health of older people. 

The prize winner is selected by an international jury, and entry is open to the world’s brightest and best engineers, thinkers, scientists, clinicians or inventors. 

The prize will go to the best discovery, invention, medical advance, idea or initiative that enhances quality of life for older people. 

The Ryman Prize has been awarded seven times since its launch in 2015. 

Last year’s winner was geriatrician, researcher, academic and anti-ageism campaigner Professor Kenneth Rockwood. 

The award recognised Professor Rockwood’s more than 30 years of research, collaboration and practical clinical work for older adults living with frailty and dementia and his long-term campaign to battle ageism in healthcare. 

Professor Rockwood’s win was announced by the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand. 

The winner is normally presented with the medal in person – but the COVID-19 pandemic meant Professor Rockwood could not travel to New Zealand to collect his prize and medal. 

Professor Rockwood said the pandemic meant the health of older people was more important than ever. 

“This is a fantastic recognition and the timing could not be better. It will give momentum and recognition to do a whole lot more research and work for a greater good.’’ 

The 2020 winner was Professor Miia Kivipelto for her more than 20 years of research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.  

Professor Kivipelto is originally from Finland and is the principal investigator for the world-leading Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability. 

The 2019 winner was Dr Michael Fehlings who won the 2019 Ryman Prize in recognition of his long career dedicated to helping older people suffering from debilitating spinal problems. 

The Toronto neurosurgeon was awarded the prize for his pioneering work for older people suffering from Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (DCM), a degenerative neck compression problem which is the most common form of injury to the spinal cord. 

The 2018 Ryman Prize winner was Japanese inventor Takanori Shibata, Chief Senior Research Scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan. 

His product, PARO, is a drug-free therapeutic robot that uses sensors, robotics and sophisticated Artificial Intelligence software to mimic a real seal. It has been proven as an alternative to improve mood, reduce anxiety, decrease the perception of pain, enhance sleep and decrease feelings of loneliness in patients. 

The 2017 Ryman Prize was won by Professor Peter St George-Hyslop, who leads research teams at Cambridge in the United Kingdom and the University of Toronto in Canada. 

His research work has focused on discovering the key genes and proteins that cause cells to degenerate, causing early onset Alzheimer’s disease. 

The 2016 prize went to Professor Henry Brodaty, a leading Alzheimer’s researcher, and in 2015 the award went to Gabi Hollows, the founding director of the Fred Hollows Foundation, who was recognised for her work in helping restore sight to more than a million people. 

The 2021 prize attracted a record number of entries and Ryman Prize director David King is expecting more interest this year. 

“The aim of the prize is to reward great work so we’re looking forward to seeing what innovations come forward this year. We also hope that the idea of winning the prize will mean that a whole lot of people out there with great ideas to help older people will put them into action.’’ 

“We are now entering the greatest period of demographic change the world has ever seen. As the number of people aged 75+ in the world grows, so too do the issues they face. People are living longer and their health needs are becoming more complex. We hope the prize will help address these issues.’’ 

The prize could go to an initiative or invention as simple as a new walking cane or mobility device, or as complex as a medical advance. 

In Professor Rockwood’s case, it was for more than 30 years of research, collaboration and practical clinical work for older adults living with frailty and dementia and his long-term campaign to battle ageism in healthcare. 

Entry forms for the Ryman Prize: 

Entry forms for the 2022 Ryman Prize are available at www.rymanprize.com 

Entries close at midnight on Friday, July 15, 2022 (New Zealand time). 

About the Ryman Prize: 

The Ryman Prize is a $250,000 grant which is awarded to the best invention, idea, research concept or initiative that has enhanced quality of life for older people. 

While there are plenty of prizes for medicine, there are none specifically aimed at the area of the health of older people. 

The Ryman Prize, which is modelled on the Nobel Prize for medicine and the Pritzker Prize, aims to fill that gap. 

The Ryman Prize is awarded in New Zealand but is open to anyone, anywhere in the world with a bright idea. 

The Ryman Prize jury includes: 

Professor Brian Draper, Conjoint Professor in the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales. 

Professor Sarah Harper, Director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing. 

Professor Tim Wilkinson, consulting geriatrician and Associate Dean of Medical Education, Otago School of Medicine. 

Dr Naoko Muramatsu, health and ageing research specialist, University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Professor Erwin Neher, Nobel Laureate and Professor at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Dr Neher is a biophysicist who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1991. 

Dr David Kerr, Ryman Healthcare Chairman, Fellow and Past President of the New Zealand Medical Association, Fellow with Distinction, Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. 

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,200 residents and the company employs 6,700 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Corporate Affairs Manager David King on 03 366 4069 or 021 499 602 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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