Today, 8.5% of people worldwide (617 million) are aged 65 and over. By 2050, this percentage is projected to more than double, reaching 1.6 billion. The global population of the “oldest old” – people aged 80 and older – is expected to more than triple between 2015 and 2050, growing from 126 million to 447 million. At the current pace, population aging is poised to impose a significant strain on economies, health systems, and social structures worldwide. But it doesn’t have to.
We can envision, just on the horizon, an explosion of potential new medicines, treatments, technologies, and preventive and social strategies that could help transform the way we age and ensure better health, function, and productivity during a period of extended longevity. Now is the time to support the next breakthroughs in healthy longevity, so that all of us can benefit from the tremendous opportunities they have to offer.
The National Academy of Medicine is launching the Healthy Longevity Grand Challenge – a $100 million initiative to catalyze transformative innovation and inform policies and priorities to advance healthy aging and longevity globally. The initiative will have two components: a series of inducement prizes and awards to stimulate innovation and transform the field; and a comprehensive global roadmap report that will assess the challenges and opportunities of global aging with recommendations for action. The combined objectives of the initiative are to:
- Catalyze breakthrough ideas and research that will extend the health- and activity-span into later life – support promising, cross-disciplinary ideas and research exploring potentially breakthrough solutions for healthy aging and longevity.
- Achieve transformative and scalable innovation in healthy aging and longevity by translating evidence into action – translate groundbreaking research and novel ideas to create transformative and scalable innovations that will advance healthy longevity in an equitable way around the world.
- Provide a comprehensive assessment of the challenges and opportunities presented by global aging – develop a global roadmap for healthy longevity that identifies the opportunities that exist across policy, practice, society, and the economy to improve health, productivity, and quality of life.
- Build a broad ecosystem of support – globally, engage new minds to enter the field and work together to achieve the promise of healthy aging and longevity, including scientists, engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs, health leaders, policymakers, and the public.
Catalyzing Innovation Through Healthy Longevity Challenge Awards and Prizes
The Healthy Longevity Challenge Awards and Prizes will engage innovators, scientists, and entrepreneurs as they compete to catalyze breakthrough discoveries and technologies that will transform the field and stimulate new research and solutions around healthy longevity. The NAM has developed a model of major inducement prizes for breakthrough innovations built on a foundation of catalyst and proof-of-concept awards.
The Challenge will roll out over three distinct phases and employ a tiered model of awards and prizes. Phases 1-2 will prospectively fund new, bold ideas and advance promising research through catalyst and challenge awards respectively. Phase 3 will issue grand prizes to reward the achievement of bold, transformative innovations representing the culmination of previous research.
Developing a Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity
The Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity will produce a comprehensive report assessing the challenges presented by global aging and demonstrating how these challenges can be translated into opportunities for societies globally through levers across policy, practice, and socioeconomic infrastructure. The report will be informed by workstreams in four domains: 1) science, technology, and innovation; 2) clinical medicine, health care delivery systems, and health promotion; 3) personal, social, economic, and environmental determinants; and 4) policy and practice. The Global Roadmap process will bring together thought leaders from science, medicine, healthcare systems, engineering, technology, and policy to identify the necessary priorities and directions for improving health, productivity, and quality of life during a period of extended longevity for populations worldwide.
Fundraising for the Healthy Longevity Grand Challenge is ongoing. To learn more about the program or ways to get involved, please contact Elizabeth Finkelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to learn more? Hear from some of the leading thinkers in healthy longevity science.
Laura Carstensen of the Stanford Center on Longevity delivers the keynote address at the 2015 NAM Annual Meeting
Innovation in Aging: Victor Dzau, Hal Barron, Joe Coughlin, J. Craig Venter, and Joon Yun