Miia Kivipelto received the Ryman Prize from the prime minister of New Zealand

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Miia Kivipelto is the head of research and development at Tema Åldrande and a professor of clinical geriatrics at Karolinska Institutet, and she has been awarded the world’s most prestigious prize for research in the field of geriatric health.

"This is totally amazing! I can hardly believe it is true! This gives such a boost of energy for me and my team to continue our research. We have continued to work throughout the entire COVID-19 crisis, and we have seen positive results", says Miia Kivipelto.
The prize was awarded in a virtual ceremony by Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, at 2.00 am Swedish time. In addition to the prestige and international recognition, the Ryman Prize also includes a financial reward of NZD 250,000, which equates to around SEK 150,000. The award was created in order to reward the best initiatives for the improvement of the health conditions and quality of life of old people. The winner is chosen by an international jury, and the prize was awarded for the seventh time in 2020.

This year's award was given to Miia Kivipelto in acknowledgement of her tireless dedication and the impact that her research has had all around the world.

World-leading research
"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", explains David King, director of the Ryman Prize.

Miia Kivipelto leads the FINGER study, which is the first large-scale trial to show that lifestyle affects the risk of cognitive and functional decline among elderly persons at risk of dementia. Physical activity, a healthy diet, social and mental activity, and the management of vascular-related risk factors all have a role to play. Miia Kivipelto and her team have long been focusing on the preventive approach – back in 2006, they developed a tool that is able to identify individuals who are at a higher risk of dementia.

"What is great is that we are able to exert a positive effect on the functioning of the brain", says Miia Kivipelto, whose interest began when her grandmother was suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Today, the FINGER model is used all around the world, and Miia Kivipelto leads a network that works to convert the research results so that they can be usefully exploited.

Recognition of initiatives to improve geriatric health
"The objective of the Ryman Prize is not only to stimulate research but also to recognise initiatives for the improvement of geriatric health. This makes me even more happy, as this reflects how we are currently working with the research results at Karolinska University Hospital. We aim to package the knowledge so that it can be used by primary healthcare providers in day-to-day interventions for geriatric health", says Miia Kivipelto.