News Release 

More than 150 awarded in global competition seeking solutions to improve healthy longevity

More than 150 innovators awarded in inaugural round of global competition seeking solutions to improve healthy longevity

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Award Announcement

Oct. 15, 2020

More than 150 Innovators Awarded in Inaugural Round of Global Competition Seeking Solutions to Improve Healthy Longevity

More Than $7.7 Million in Prizes Awarded

WASHINGTON -- The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), together with seven global collaborators representing nearly 50 countries and territories, today announced the winners of the inaugural round of Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards. The awards are part of the Healthy Longevity Global Competition, a multiyear, multimillion-dollar international competition seeking breakthrough innovations to extend human health and function later in life.

In the inaugural round of the Catalyst Awards, innovators from around the world submitted over 1,330 applications. The Catalyst Phase calls on teams and individuals from any background -- from science, medicine, and health to technology, finance, social sciences, and beyond -- to submit innovative ideas with the goal of extending the human healthspan. Applications are judged primarily on novelty and innovation.

The NAM founded the competition and coordinates among the seven global collaborators, each administering a competition in their respective country or region. In parallel, the NAM also administers a U.S.-based Catalyst Award competition, for which nearly 600 innovators submitted applications in Round 1. The following 21 submissions received Catalyst Awards from the NAM (principal investigators for each are listed) and will each receive $50,000 USD as seed funding to advance their ideas:

  • Halting inflammaging through skin barrier restoration
    Katrina Abuabara, assistant professor, University of California, San Francisco

  • Retinal Imaging for Diagnosis of Aging-Related Brain Disorders
    Alessandro Biffi, assistant professor of neurology, Harvard University Medical School, and neurologist, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

  • Improving Health for the Aging through Daily Vital Signs Monitoring
    David Borkholder, Bausch + Lomb Professor of Microsystems Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York

  • App with AI for a smartwatch and smartphone that detects early signs of Parkinson's disease
    Igor Dzhekiev, chief executive officer and co-founder, Insubiq Inc., Newtown, Pennsylvania

  • Can hormetic stress increase vagal tone and slow cell aging?
    Elissa Epel, professor of psychiatry, University of California San Francisco

  • Centenarian Species Genomes Project
    Glenn Gerhard, professor and chair, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University, Philadelphia

  • CareBank: A PeerCare Platform Connecting Elders for the Pandemic and Aftermath
    Claude Goodman, president and biomedical engineer, CareWheels Corp., Lake Oswego, Oregon

  • Nanocatalysis for the improvement of human healthspan and lifespan
    Karen Ho, head of translational medicine, Clene Nanomedicine Inc., Salt Lake City

  • Paradigm Shift in the Molecular Transport to Brain Through the Direct Central Nerve-Innervation Based Retrograde Axonal Transport of Craniofacial Tissue Exosomes (RATCE)
    Shigemi Ishikawa-Nagai, associate professor of oral medicine, infection, and immunity and director of clinical research, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston

  • Virtually young: Can embodying an avatar of your younger self extend your healthy lifespan?
    Alexandra Ivanovitch, founder, Equity Lab Global, Miami Beach, Florida

  • Automated Cell Profiling Platform for Anti-Aging Drug Discovery
    Bjarki Johannesson, research investigator, New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute, New York City

  • Resilient Brains: New Insights for Healthy Brain Aging
    Michael McConnell, research scientist, Lieber Institute for Brain Development, Baltimore

  • Investigating the Role of Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase in the Aging-Associated Changes in Gut Barrier and Microbiome Using a Novel Microfluidic Intestine-on-Chip Model
    Vidisha Mohad, research fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston

  • Affordable, Accessible Hearing Care for Aging Well
    Carrie Nieman, assistant professor of otolaryngology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore

  • Elucidating mechanisms through which the gut microbiome can be optimized across the human lifespan
    Nathan Price, professor and associate director, Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle

  • Deep learning to predict biological age and longevity from chest radiographs
    Vineet Raghu, postdoctoral research fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

  • Care Corps USA - A National Service Model Addressing the Aging Sector Workforce
    Nihal Satyadev, medical student, University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Tustin, California

  • Development of an Implantable, Continuously Operating, Patient-Friendly Renal Replacement System for Transforming Home Dialysis
    Nikhil Shah, chief executive officer and co-founder, Nephrodite Inc., Atlanta

  • Investigating the mechanisms of age dependent decline in the immunosurveillance of senescent cells by Natural Killer cells
    Amit Sharma, group leader of senescence immunology research, SENS Research Foundation, Mountain View, California

  • Anti-aging Properties of a New Form of Non-thermal Plasma
    Benjamin Shlerlag, professor of medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center, Oklahoma City

  • Genetic Regulation of Exceptional Longevity in Rockfishes
    Stephen Treaster, postdoctoral research fellow, Boston Children's Hospital

"I am delighted to honor this diverse group of scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs for their bold ideas to extend the human healthspan and improve the physical, mental, and social well-being of people as they age," said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. "As this global competition advances, we hope this wellspring of activity will continue to attract new researchers to the field, activate innovation, and stimulate breakthroughs that will impact the lives of generations."

Other organizations that issued Catalyst Awards today include Academia Sinica of Taiwan; Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences; EIT Health; Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development; Ministry of Health and National Research Foundation of Singapore; UK Research & Innovation; and the National Institute on Aging, U.S. National Institutes of Health. As part of the competition's commitment to share knowledge and stimulate an entire field by not only rewarding innovative ideas but also sharing those ideas with the world, summaries of all winning ideas are available at http://www.healthylongevitychallenge.org.

Awardees will be invited to attend the first annual Innovator Summit in Washington, D.C., in September 2021 to share their work with policymakers, researchers, potential investors, and fellow innovators from around the world. The second cycle of the Catalyst Phase opens in early 2021, and applications will be accepted for approximately six weeks. After a multistep review process, winners will be announced in summer 2021.

The competition consists of two additional phases internationally:

  • Accelerator Phase Awards worth $300,000 to $1 million USD or more will be issued to meritorious Catalyst awardees or finalists who have demonstrated significant progress, in order to support the further advancement of their bold ideas (starting in 2021)

  • Grand Prize One or more grand prizes of up to $5 million USD will be awarded for achievement of a breakthrough innovation that extends the human healthspan (starting in 2023)

The Healthy Longevity Global Competition receives support from Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC; John and Valerie Rowe; Martine Rothblatt and United Therapeutics Corporation; Anthony J. Yun and Kimberly A. Bazar; and The John A. Hartford Foundation, in addition to commitments from the global collaborator organizations. The American Federation for Aging Research provided support and administration during Round 1 of the NAM Catalyst Awards.

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The National Academy of Medicine, established in 1970 as the Institute of Medicine, is an independent organization of eminent professionals from diverse fields including health and medicine; the natural, social, and behavioral sciences; and beyond. It serves alongside the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering as an adviser to the nation and the international community. Through its domestic and global initiatives, the NAM works to address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy and inspire positive action across sectors. The NAM collaborates closely with its peer academies and other divisions within the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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