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


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 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.

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.’’  

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

About Kenneth Rockwood:
Kenneth Rockwood lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He is Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Neurology and the Kathryn Allen Weldon Professor of Alzheimer Research at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He is Senior Director of a newly formed Frailty and Elder Care Network at Nova Scotia Health and is an Honorary Professor of Population Science and Experimental Medicine, University College, London.

About the Ryman Prize:
The Ryman Prize is administered by the Ryman Foundation. The annual prize consists of a $250,000 grant which is awarded by an international jury to the best invention, idea, research concept or initiative that has enhanced quality of life for older people.

It is the world’s richest prize of its type and was established to create the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for people working in the field of the health of older people.

The prize was launched in 2015 and has been awarded seven times.  See a full list of winners on the Ryman Foundation website.

The Ryman Prize jury consists of:

  • Professor Brian Draper, Conjoint Professor in the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales.
  • Professor Sarah Harper CBE, Director and Clore Professor of Gerontology at 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 Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, 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 of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

For interviews with Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, please contact Communications and Public Relations at Nova Scotia Health at 1-844-483-3344. 

For information about the Ryman Prize, please contact David King on 03 366 4069 (00643 3664069) or 021 499 602 (006421 499 6902)