Professor Sarah Harper explores what getting older means, not only for ourselves and our whanau, but also the wider implications for society as we continue to live longer lives than the generation before us.

sarah harper video still

 

Held at the Auckland Museum Event Centre on Thursday 11 October 2018, this free public event was proudly presented by Royal Society Te Apārangi in partnership with Ryman Healthcare.

Professor Harper was in New Zealand to help with the judging of the 2018 Ryman Prize, a $250,000 annual award for the world’s best development, advance or achievement that enhances quality of life for older people, which was presented to Professor Takanori Shibata, an artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics pioneer from Japan.

Professor Takanori Shibata has been awarded the 2018 Ryman Prize in recognition of his more than 25 years of ground-breaking research into new technology to help older people.

Professor Shibata, an artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics pioneer, was presented with the prize by the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, at a special ceremony in Auckland today.

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.

Professor Shibata, Chief Senior Research Scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan, was awarded this year’s prize for his tenacity in pursing new technology to help ease the burden of older people suffering from dementia.

In 1993 he set out to use the latest advances in artificial intelligence and robotics to create a device that would be a practical help to older people with conditions such as dementia.

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 a drug-free therapeutic alternative to improve mood, reduce anxiety, decrease perception of pain, enhance sleep and decrease feelings of loneliness in patients.

PARO has been in production since 2005 and is used in 30 countries.

The Japanese inventor was delighted to win and said he would be using the money to invest in more research.

“I am extremely proud to have won the Ryman Prize,’’ Takanori Shibata said.

“It represents a lot of work over the past 25 years, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of many people and my family. 

“I set out to find a way to use technology as an alternative drug-free therapy to ease the suffering of patients with dementia.

“The health challenges faced by older people are enormous and growing but technology is changing just as quickly.

“We’ve proved that this is possible, and that Artificial Intelligence has huge potential for the future. We’ve pioneered a way of working but there is a lot more work to do.’’

About Takanori Shibata:

Professor Shibata, Chief Senior Research Scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan, has been a pioneer in the field of the health of older people for more than two decades.

His discoveries are likely to influence the future of healthcare.

Professor Shibata was inspired by seeing the benefits that animal therapy could bring to dementia patients.

He set about creating a robot that could soothe and reassure patients by responding to touch and speech.

The advantage of a robot is that it is infection-free and completely safe to use. And it doesn’t bite or need feeding.

As well as winning recognition as a licenced medical device by the FDA, the design excellence behind PARO has been recognised with it being included in exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Louvre and the Museum of Modern Art.

Professor Shibata has spent more than 20 years constantly refining and improving PARO and has won over many sceptics with his advocacy for robotics in what can be a controversial field of care.

The device is now in its ninth generation, having been constantly refined and updated as robotics, AI and computing power improve.

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 the inaugural prize was won by Gabi Hollows, the founding director of The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Gabi Hollows set up the charity with her late husband Professor Fred Hollows, and together they worked tirelessly to tackle the problem of preventable blindness in the developing world.

The 2016 prize was won by Professor Henry Brodaty. Professor Brodaty is a pioneer in diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia and his influence has been felt around the world.

The 2017 Ryman Prize was won by Professor Peter St George-Hyslop, a geneticist and researcher based at Cambridge and the University of Toronto. Peter has spent 30 years researching neuro-degenerative diseases, focusing on discovering the key genes and proteins that cause cells to degenerate in diseases such as early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

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 CBE, 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 of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

Media advisory:

For interviews or further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Ryman Prize director David King on 03 366 4069 (00643 3664069) or 021 499 602 (006421 499 6902) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

MEDIA RELEASE: April 16, 2018

Peter St George Hyslop

2017 Ryman Prize winner, Professor Peter St George-Hyslop


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 2018 Ryman Prize, the only award of its kind which is targeted at the health of older people.

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

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

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

Last year’s winner was Professor Peter St George-Hyslop, who was delighted to be recognised for his more than 30 years of research into neuro-degenerative diseases.

Professor Peter St George-Hyslop 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.

Professor St George-Hyslop said he was delighted for two reasons.

“At a personal level, it is obviously thrilling to have one’s professional work and the work of one's colleagues publicly recognised.

However, there is a much larger importance to this prize. It signifies a sea-change in how society perceives disorders affecting the health and well-being of their older members.

It signals a growing understanding of the urgency of getting to grips with these increasingly common, devastating conditions that impact not only those individuals affected by them, but also their family and their caregivers, and the state in which they live.’’

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 to help restore sight to more than a million people.

Ryman Prize director David King is expecting a large number of entries from all around the world for the 2018 prize.

“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 Peter’s case, it was for more than 30 years of dedicated work into diseases of old age.

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.

Entry forms for the 2018 Ryman Prize are available at www.rymanprize.com. Entries close at midnight on Friday, August 31, 2018.

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 to the best invention, idea, research concept or initiative that has enhanced quality of life for older people.

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

The prize is a philanthropic initiative aimed at improving the lot of those over 75 years of age. In Western countries, such as New Zealand and Australia, this is a significant demographic, which is set to more than double over the next 30 years. The rapid ageing of the population will be even more pronounced in the developing world.

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 of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

Media advisory:

For interviews or further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Ryman Prize director David King on 03 366 4069 (00643 3664069) or 021 499 602 (0064 21 499 6902) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

MEDIA RELEASE August 9, 2017

rymanprize17 KOR

 

A world-renowned researcher has won the 2017 Ryman Prize in recognition of his more than 30 years of ground-breaking contribution to research into Alzheimer’s Disease.

Professor Peter St George-Hyslop, who splits his time between research labs at the Universities of Toronto and Cambridge in the United Kingdom, has won the 2017 Ryman Prize for his more than 30 years of research into neuro-degenerative diseases.

His research work has focused on discovering the key genes and proteins that cause cells to degenerate in diseases such as early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

His work has also helped other research better understand other neuro-degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's, motor neuron disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob (mad cow) disease.

He was presented with the prize by the Right Honourable Bill English, Prime Minister of New Zealand, at a special presentation in Wellington today (August 9).

Ryman Prize juror Dr Naoko Muramatsu said Professor St George-Hyslop’s research had led to a much better understanding of neuro-degenerative diseases.

“Since the mid-1980s he has carried out pioneering research in a field which was little understood. Millions of people around the world have Alzheimer’s and Peter’s research has had a profound influence on its understanding, and the ability to diagnose and treat it. He thoroughly deserves this award for his many decades of commitment to scientific discovery, teaching, and sheer hard work.’’

“He has also been a prolific research author, and his 390 published scientific papers have been cited by other researchers more than 33,000 times. This means that his discoveries have been widely disseminated to form the basis of other research and discoveries.’’

Professor St George-Hyslop said he was chuffed to win.

“The prize came as a complete surprise - but one that is exceptionally exciting for two reasons. At a personal level, it is obviously thrilling to have one’s professional work and the work of one's colleagues publicly recognised. However, there is a much larger importance to this prize. It signifies a sea-change in how society perceives disorders affecting the health and well-being of their older members. It signals a growing understanding of the urgency of getting to grips with these increasingly common, devastating conditions that impact not only those individuals affected by them, but also their family and their caregivers, and the state in which they live.’’

The Ryman Prize is a $250,000 international prize which rewards the best work in the world 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.

Gordon MacLeod, Chief Executive of Ryman Healthcare, said the aim of the prize was to encourage the best and brightest minds in the world to think about the health of older people.

“We’re delighted to support the prize because it recognises the importance of this field of healthcare. The world’s population is rapidly ageing, and people are living longer with chronic diseases. These issues have no borders - we want to do everything we can to help tackle what is a worldwide problem.’’

The prize was launched in 2015 and the inaugural prize was won by Gabi Hollows, the founding director of The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Gabi Hollows set up the charity with her late husband Professor Fred Hollows, and together they worked tirelessly to tackle the problem of preventable blindness in the developing world.

In the 26 years since the Hollows Foundation was established more than 1 million people have had their sight restored.

The 2016 prize was won by Professor Henry Brodaty. Professor Brodaty is a pioneer in diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia and his influence has been felt around the world.

About Peter St-George Hyslop: Professor St George-Hyslop is a British-Canadian geneticist and physician.

He was born in Kenya and was educated in the United Kingdom.  He completed his medical training in Canada, graduating in 1976, before pursuing post-doctoral research in internal medicine and neurology at the University of Toronto and Harvard Medical School.

He served his first appointment at Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital, where he taught molecular genetics and neurology from 1987 to 1991.

He was appointed to the University of Toronto in 1991, and since 2003 has held the university's highest rank of University Professor. Since 1995, St George-Hyslop has served as the director of the Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine

In 2007 St George-Hyslop was appointed Professor of Experimental Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, where he still works.

He divides his time between Canada and the United Kingdom.

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 to the best invention, idea, research concept or initiative that has enhanced quality of life for older people.

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

The prize is a philanthropic initiative aimed at improving the lot of those over 75 years of age. In Western countries, such as New Zealand and Australia, this is a significant demographic, which is set to more than double over the next 30 years. The rapid ageing of the population will be even more pronounced in the developing world. The prize pool has come from an anonymous donor and the prize is administered with support from Ryman Healthcare, New Zealand’s largest retirement village operator.

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 of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

Media advisory: For interviews with Professor Peter St George-Hyslop or further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Ryman Prize director David King on 03 366 4069 (00643 3664069) or 021 499 602 (006421 499 6902) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

MEDIA RELEASE April 24, 2017

NZ$250,000 prize for improving quality of life for older people on offer

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

Launched last year, the NZ$250,000 Ryman Prize is one of the world’s richest prizes and is the only award of its kind which is targeted at the health of older people. The intention is to create the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in the field of older people’s health.

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

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

Entry for the 2017 Ryman Prize are now open at www.rymanprize.com. Entries close at midnight on Friday, June 23 2017.

The Ryman Prize was launched in 2015 and the inaugural prize was won by Gabi Hollows, the founding director of The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Gabi set up the charity with her late husband Professor Fred Hollows, and together they worked tirelessly to tackle the problem of preventable blindness in the developing world.

In the 24 years since the Hollows Foundation was established more than 1 million people have had their sight restored. The vast majority of the recipients are older people who could not have otherwise afforded to have cataract surgery.

The 2016 prize was won by Professor Henry Brodaty. Professor Brodaty is a pioneer in diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia and his influence has been felt around the world.

Ryman Prize director David King said Gabi Hollows and Henry Brodaty were both deserving winners, and the Ryman Prize jury was looking forward to seeing this year’s entries.

“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 Ryman Prize will not only reward people who have done great work for older people, but also spark new ideas and research.’’

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.
While there are plenty of prizes for research, there are none specifically aimed at the area of the health of older people. The Ryman Prize aims to fill that niche.

The prize money has been donated to The Ryman Foundation to administer.

The Ryman Prize jury includes:
Dr 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.
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.
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.
Dr 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.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact David King on 0064 3 366 4069 or 0064 21 499 602 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.