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'Healthy Longevity' Global Grand Challenge

Deadlines depend on the phase and the specific partner.

Dramatic advances in medicine and public health have resulted in unprecedented extensions of the human lifespan across the world over the past century. By 2050, people over age 65 will number over 1.6 billion, accounting for 20 percent of the global population, more than double the number today. Coupled with declining fertility rates, however, this demographic shift presents many challenges to economic and workforce stability, health care systems, and rural and urban communities, which may result in older people experiencing lower quality well-being during a longer lifespan.

However, if global societies embrace strategies to maximize healthy longevity, the aging population presents a tremendous opportunity, rather than a burden. Extending good health and productivity later in the lifespan would allow older people to remain active contributors to the economy, their communities, and families and reduce their overall need for social and health care services. Interdisciplinary research and innovation are urgently needed globally to generate important advances and breakthroughs that can help aging global populations achieve healthy longevity.

The Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge is conceptualized, founded, and coordinated internationally by the United States National Academy of Medicine (NAM). It calls on teams and individuals of any background - including biomedical sciences, technology and engineering, social sciences, financing, and beyond - to submit bold, innovative ideas, with the goal of extending the human healthspan. It seeks to amass a diverse portfolio of ideas, focusing on areas such as disease prevention, molecular pathways, mobility, functionality, social connectedness, and more.

The Global Grand Challenge has two parts:

  1. The Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity will assemble an independent International Commission to author an evidence-based report with recommendations for societies worldwide to foster healthy longevity by through strategies related to the social and behavioral enablers of health, health care and public health systems, and science and technology. The Commission’s work will be informed by three public workshops. The Commission’s final report is expected in 2021.
  2. The Healthy Longevity Global Competition is a multiyear, multi-million-dollar international competition that will accelerate breakthroughs in healthy longevity through a series of monetary awards and prizes. The competition is open to innovators of any background, including science, medicine, public health, technology, entrepreneurship, public policy, social engineering, and beyond. The competition launched in October 2019. 

The Global Grand Challenge consists of three phases internationally:

  • Catalyst Phase: approximately 450 awards will be issued globally as seed to advance new, innovative ideas (starting in 2020). Awardees will be invited to attend an annual Innovators Summit - the first of which is set for summer 2021 -- to share their work with policymakers, researchers, potential investors, and fellow innovators from around the world.
  • Accelerator Phase: awards worth 500,000 to 1 million USD or more will be issued to those meritorious Catalyst awardees 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 prize(s) of up to 5 million USD will be awarded for achievement of a breakthrough innovation that extends the human health span (starting in 2023).

Organizations issuing Catalyst Awards include Academia Sinica of Taiwan, Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, EIT Health (supported by EIT, a body of the European Union), Ministry of Health and National Research Foundation of Singapore, United Kingdom Research and Innovation, U.S. National Academy of Medicine (supported by Johnson & Johnson Innovation), and U.S. National Institute on Aging.

Check the Global Competition website and explore the competitions currently open. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute on Aging “Innovations to Foster Healthy Longevity in Low-Income Settings (R03 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)” call is open to applicants worldwide and its deadline is 4 February 2021. Other competitions may allow for foreign researchers to be part of a team which must be led by a researcher based in the country of the funding partner.

[Boletín SIUN 517, 17/18 de diciembre de 2020]

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