World-leading geriatrician and anti-ageism campaigner wins the Ryman Prize

Dr. Kenneth Rockwood
Dr. Kenneth Rockwood

HALIFAX, N.S. - Geriatrician, researcher, academic and anti-ageism campaigner Dr. Kenneth Rockwood has won the 2021 Ryman Prize.

The award recognizes Dr. 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.

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

Click here for a link to last night's presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fK1wzIZYFFg

The Ryman Prize is an annual $250,000 (NZD) international award for the best work carried out anywhere in the world that has enhanced quality of life for older people. It is the richest prize of its kind in the world.

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

Dr. 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 Ryman Prize attracts a world-class field of entrants each year. Each winner is chosen by an international jury of experts from across many disciplines.

Dr. Rockwood was singled out for this year’s prize for a truly unique contribution to the understanding of ageing, Ryman Prize Director David King said.

“Dr. Rockwood is a truly outstanding clinician and academic who has spent many decades combining his practical experience with a research basis to try and truly understand the causes of ageing and decline. His Clinical Frailty Scale is used internationally, and he has made a massive contribution to scientific literature with hundreds of peer reviewed articles and contributions in the world’s leading medical research journals.

“One of his greatest contributions has been to combat ageism. His work has helped debunk common misconceptions that complex problems faced by older people – such as delirium, cognitive issues and frailty – were part of normal decline and that treatment options were limited.

“His other great contribution has been as a teacher and a clinical leader, inspiring talented specialists to join the field. As a result of his inspiration the work of a whole new generation of Ken Rockwoods is likely to benefit older people around the world in the years to come.

“Without a doubt he has made an enormous contribution to the health and care of older people, and he thoroughly deserves our gratitude.’’

Additional quotes:
“To be a recipient of a Ryman Prize is an incredible achievement. On behalf of Nova Scotia, I congratulate Dr. Kenneth Rockwood on this prestigious recognition. His contribution to improving quality of life for older people is truly inspiring.”
- Premier Tim Houston

“My heart-felt congratulations to Dr. Kenneth Rockwood. Nova Scotia is home to so many innovative health researchers and it is wonderful to see one of our own reach such incredible success and recognition for their hard work.”
- Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson
“As a teacher, clinician and researcher, Dr. Kenneth Rockwood has contributed significantly to improving care for older people here and around the world, and inspiring new doctors to specialize in geriatrics. Congratulations to him on this well-deserved honour.”
- Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Barbara Adams

“For the past three decades, Dr. Rockwood has been focused on improving care and quality of life for older people. His work has had a positive impact here in Nova Scotia and around the world. I am so very proud to see one of Nova Scotia’s world-class researchers and clinicians receive the richly deserved award.”
- Karen Oldfield, Interim CEO, Nova Scotia Health

“To see the culmination of decades of research by Dr. Rockwood be recognized at the international level with the prestigious Ryman Prize is a source of tremendous pride for Dalhousie University. Dr. Rockwood has dedicated his career to discovering innovative approaches to address frailty and dementia with a holistic approach that treats people, rather than disease. His prolific research career has set the standard for implementation science and has created meaningful clinical change.”
- Dr. David Anderson, Dean Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University

“Congratulations to Dr. Kenneth Rockwood on being the recipient of the prestigious Ryman Prize, which celebrates outstanding health research related to work that enhances the quality of life for older people. Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation is proud to have supported your globally acclaimed research through the Kathryn Allen Weldon Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Research and we commend you on your remarkable achievements.”
- Janet MacMillan, Board Chair, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation

“Dr. Ken Rockwood is a champion for older Nova Scotians. Ken embodies an ethic of research for the purpose of improved care for older adults and we’re incredibly proud to support his research including his most recent study to learn if Far-UVC light can reduce viral transmissions in our long-term care facilities.”
- Stefan Leslie, CEO of Research Nova Scotia

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