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Miia Kivipelto.

Professor Miia Kivipelto wins the 2020 Ryman Prize

  • Photo Fredric Cronberg

Professor Miia Kivipelto has won the 2020 Ryman Prize.

The award recognises Professor Kivipelto’s more than 20 years of research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

Professor Kivipelto was awarded the prize by the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, at a special ceremony in Auckland, New Zealand 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.

The prize has been awarded six times and the prize winner is normally presented with the medal in person – but Professor Kivipelto joined via video link from her home in Sweden because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Kivipelto was inspired to take on the research by the experience of caring for her grandmother who lived with Alzheimer’s Disease.

She was delighted to win.

“This is a great honour, not just for me, but for my team. I believe this will give us even more energy for what we do, which is more important than ever. We’ve kept going though COVID-19 and we’re getting great results, and we will keep going.’’

Professor Kivipelto is originally from Finland and is the principal investigator for the world-leading Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability.

Known as the FINGER study, it was the first large scale trial that showed multi-domain lifestyle-based interventions can reduce the risk of cognitive and functional decline among elderly persons who have increased risk for dementia. She is now leading the World-Wide FINGERs network adapting and optimising the FINGER model in more than 30 countries.

In 2006 Professor Kivipelto and her team developed a tool that can identify dementia risk, which has been widely adopted and used as an educational and motivational tool and to target the interventions for those at risk clinically.

Professor Kivipelto believes a preventative approach targeting a whole lot of risk factors is the only way to tackle Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“The failure rate in Alzheimer’s Disease drugs under development is 99.6% and there have been no new drugs approved since 2002. There is no miracle cure. Our research focuses on identifying who is at risk and finding ways they can reduce these risk factors. It isn’t just one solution – but there are a whole lot of things we can do to reduce the risk.’’

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.

Professor Kivipelto was singled out for this year’s prize for her tireless dedication to her research, and her far-reaching impact around the world.

“Our jury thought she was an outstanding candidate. Professor Kivipelto’s research is world leading, practical and influential. She leads a team of 100 researchers and clinical staff working on the challenge and her colleagues describe her as a very hard-working scientist who is absolutely dedicated to understanding disease and improving life for older people,’’ Ryman Prize Director David King said.

“She’s a great advocate for her field of research and there is no doubt she will use this recognition to her work. She’s an inspiration and this prize is a thank you for all the work she has done, and will no doubt continue to do.’’

Professor Miia Kivipelto is Professor in Neurogeriatrics at the School of Medicine, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition and Department of Neurology at the University of Eastern Finland. Her Nordic-UK Brain Network is based also at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland; Imperial College, London, UK; and FINGERS Brain Health Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

For further information, please contact:

Professor Miia Kivipelto, miia.kivipelto (a)

About the Ryman Prize and previous awardees: