Nov. 15 2016

Linda Fried Honored with 2016 Inserm International Prize

One of the world’s most prestigious scientific awards is given to the Mailman School’s Dean, a leading expert on healthy aging.

Linda P. Fried, Dean and DeLamar Professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, will be honored with the 2016 Inserm International Prize, a scientific award given each year by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research [Inserm], the French equivalent of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The Prize ceremony, which will also recognize seven other world-renowned scientists and engineers, will be held on December 8 at Collège de France in Paris.

As John W. Rowe, Julius B. Richmond Professor of Health Policy and Aging Health Policy and Management at Columbia, points out, by honoring Fried, this year’s Inserm Prize goes a long way toward recognizing one of public health’s top priorities: the world’s rapidly aging population. “The importance of the Inserm Prize relates to its truly international scope and its focus not on a particular discovery but on a scholar’s systematic body of work in an important area,” he says. “Recognition of Linda Fried's research has special significance as it shows that research on aging, long neglected, has come of age.”

By 2050, the number of people aged 65 or older is expected to almost triple, climbing from about 524 million in 2010 to nearly 1.5 billion. As one of the field’s top experts in aging, Fried has dedicated her career to understanding the science behind growing older and designing interventions that help societies to transition to a world where greater longevity benefits people of all ages.

“My interest in the science of healthy aging has been guided by a belief that science and society, working in concert, can optimize our innate capacity for good health,” says Fried. “My collaborators and I believe that science can be the basis for the opportunities of our now-longer lives and offers enormous potential to build health for older people around the world and create the foundations to benefit all of us.”

Fried’s work aims to help leaders around the world recognize and realize the potential of their aging population. In October, she brought together top representatives from academia, government, and the private sector for an international summit on aging and health in Shanghai, China—a country where as many as 330 million people are expected to be over age 60 by 2050. Fried is also the designer and co-founder of Experience Corps, a program that places senior volunteers in public schools in cities in the United States and around the world. Serving in both tutoring and mentoring roles, Experience Corps’ older volunteers help enrich students’ academic achievements while bolstering their own health through continued activity and community interaction.

Fried’s scientific discoveries have transformed science, medical care, and public health around the world, inspiring greater interest in helping older populations thrive. Her research has explored the science of frailty, defining frailty as a clinical syndrome and illuminating its causes, consequences and the potential for preventing it.

Among her many career honors, Fried was cited by publisher Thompson Reuters in 2014 as among the top one percent of influential scientific minds of the prior decade. Before coming to Columbia in 2008, she founded the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, directed the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, and held joint appointments at Hopkins’ schools of medicine, nursing, and public health.

A short video of Dean Fried's work was presented at the awards ceremony. Watch it here: