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

Posted by The Ryman Foundation with files from Jason Bremner on December 14, 2021 in News
Dr. Kenneth Rockwood is the seventh winner of the international health prize
Dr. Kenneth Rockwood is the seventh winner of the international health prize

Geriatrician, researcher, academic and anti-ageism campaigner Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, a Professor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, has won the 2021 Ryman Prize.

The award recognises 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 by the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

The Ryman Prize is an annual $250,000 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.

“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," said Dr. David Anderson, Dean Faculty of Medicine. "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. 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 is made an enormous contribution to the health and care of older people, and he thoroughly deserves our gratitude.’’