Prizes, Awards and Grants

Announcement - Winner of the Sohlberg Prize

The jury for the great Nordic prize in Gerontology, the Sohlberg prize, has unanimously decided that the prize winner in 2016 will be Dr. Kaare Christensen, University of Southern Denmark, Odense.

Dr. Kaare Christensen has served as full professor of Epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark since 2002. From 2007 he also has served as the Director of The Danish Twin Registry and from 2008 as Director of the Danish Aging Research Center (DARC) which he initiated as a collaborative center between the universities in Odense, Aarhus and Copenhagen. The center has played a major role in fostering interdisciplinary aging research and in engaging young scholars into the field of aging. Research initiated by DARC covers population based studies in social epidemiology to molecular biology. His twin research has demonstrated the relative contributions of environmental and genetic influences in several birth cohorts and for various outcomes in late life.

Dr. Christensen’s is a leading scientist in Danish ageing research and in the Nordic setting. He is well-known at the international scene through many significant publications in high ranked journals and has been given several prestigious honors and awards. He is also well-known internationally as an excellent lecturer with the ability to attract interest to aging research among professionals as well as the public.

Professor Christensen will receive the prize at the opening ceremony of the 23 Nordic Congress in Gerontology in Tampere and he will give a honorary lecture during the congress.

The Sohlberg prize is generously sponsored by the Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation

General terms

NGF invites for nominations of candidates for the most prestigious Nordic Prize in Gerontology, the Sohlberg prize.

  • The Sohlberg prize of 10.000 euros is sponsored by the Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation and will be awarded at the Opening Ceremony of the 23rd Congress.
  • The prize is relevant for all aging sciences and is awarded to a scientist active in a Nordic country who is a leader in gerontology with a major influence on the development of her/his field in aging research.
  • To be considered the candidate should have built a strong research group or initiated research of major importance for developments in gerontology.
  • The nomination must include reasons for the nomination (described on a half to a full A4 page), in addition to a curriculum vitas and a publication list of the candidate. Self-applications are not accepted.
  • The prize will be awarded by a jury including the president and the two vice presidents of NGF and the two most recent prize-winners.
  • The nomination should be sent electronically to the NGF president Professor Boo Johansson by e-mail: no later than December 14, 2015.


Announcement- Winner of the NGF prize for promising researcher in gerontology

The winner of the 2016 NGF´s prize for promising researchers in gerontology is Dr. Maria Lage Barca, Oslo, Norway.

Maria Lage Barca was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She completed her basic education in medical science and a residency with focus on geriatric psychiatry in Brazil before she moved to Norway in 2007. In 2010 she defended her PhD thesis “Depression among Norwegian nursing home patients”, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship to study the effect of depression on risk for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. She currently holds this postdoc position which is affiliated with the Department of Geriatrics, Oslo University, Ullevaal and the Norwegian Advisory Unit for Aging and Health, Vestfold Health Trust.

Her research is focused on the comorbidity of depression and dementia and she has already published more than 20 papers on the topic, besides given many lectures in the field and providing co-supervisions.

Dr. Lage Barca will receive the prize at the opening ceremony of the 23 NKG in Tampere and she will give a prize lecture during the congress.

General terms

At the 23rd Congress of Gerontology in Tampere the NGF prize for promising researcher in gerontology will be handed out for the 2nd time. The prize is intended for a researcher from one Nordic country. At the Congress in Tampere the prize will be offered to a candidate from the country that will host the next Nordic Congress of Gerontology, namely Norway (Oslo, 2018). Thus, only candidates from Norway are applicable this time.

  • The proposed candidate shall not hold a senior position but should preferably have concluded a PhD.
  • A member association of NGF can nominate the candidate to the prize. Argumentation and a CV must follow. No direct applications will be accepted.
  • The nomination with all relevant information shall be sent to the president of NGF (
  • The jury consists of the three presidents of the NGF and the chairs of the scientific committees in the current and for the next congress.
  • The prize-winner will receive an amount of 20.000 SEK and give a lecture at a ceremony during the congress
  • The prize-winner will not pay any registration fee at the 23rd congress. Expenses for travel (in economy if by flight) and accommodation during the congress will be paid by NGF.
  • Nominations of Norwegian candidates should be sent electronically to the NGF president Dr. no later than December 14, 2015

Interview with Kaare Christensen

How did it happen than you became a medical doctor and gerontologist? What other options did you have for work and career?
I have always had a fascination for human development and aging as well as a love for math, numbers and illustrations. When I graduated as a medical doctor, I was not sure whether I wanted to become a clinician or an epidemiologist, but after trying to do both in 3-4 years I decided I had to choose although I really liked both kinds of work. Maybe it is a coincidence, but as a young epidemiologist I was mainly interested in reproductive epidemiology, basically what caused babies to be born healthy. And then, after having had three children, the next major challenge in life for me was aging. At at a more serious level, I have been working with twins in my early reproductive epidemiology studies, and right at the time when I was finishing my PhD, James W. Vaupel, the current director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock and of the Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging in Odense, Denmark, came to our university as a Professor. I was very much inspired by his work and enthusiasm, and in the early 1990s he invited me to join his excellent US team and participate in a large research program with a twin study on aging. In connection with that I went on a sabbatical to the University of Minnesota, working with Professor Matt McGue, who is an expert on twins and aging and with whom I had a close collaboration for the following more than 20 years. So the shorter answer is: interests, coincidence and excellent mentors started that path.

What are you working on right now in research?
A key focus in our research is how a number of life circumstances get under the skin, and how plastic is aging. We have a particular focus on progress in health and functioning, especially cognitive functioning, over cohorts. The combined use of our twin cohorts dating back from 1870 and up to our time as well as our studies of complete cohorts of very old people are giving us wonderful opportunities to study life course development and aging, and to combine methods from molecular biology, medicine, epidemiology, demography, and social sciences.

What do you think are the most exciting present and future developments in your field of aging research?
Among the many exciting developments in aging research, I find the accumulating evidence for the plasticity of aging the most exciting development. It provides optimism and outlines potentials for future development - not only in research but also at an individual and a societal level. Moreover, it encourages the emerging effort to better include elderly and very old individuals in the societal structure.

23NKG is a multidisciplinary conference where the participants have the opportunity to broaden their perspective beyond the themes of their own immediate research areas. How would you like to motivate social scientists and humanists to attend your lecture?
In my talk I will focus on the very old. Now, in many countries, the number of 90+ year-olds is approaching the size of a birth cohort, so this group is by no means any longer a small proportion of the population and it poses new public health and societal challenges that need the attention of all disciplines within gerontology.
While there is no doubt that we are doing well in making the elderly survive better than previously, the key question is whether we are also doing good for the oldest-old There is widespread concern that the basis for the survival success is better survival of frail and disabled elderly into the highest ages, the so-called “Failure of Success Hypothesis”.  An alternative hypothesis is that we are experiencing a “Success of Success”, i.e., an increasing proportion of the population are living to the highest ages in better health and functioning than previous generations. 
The planning of and policy development for the future care of the oldest-old will be highly dependent on whether one or both genders are experiencing the “Failure of Success” or the “Success of Success” as they reach the highest ages. This scientific knowledge is of fundamental importance for the sustainability of modern societies and the Nordic countries have exceptionally good condition for conducting aging research to shed light on the health trajectory and well-being of the very old.

In your mind, how can the Nordic Congress contribute to aging research in general? What do you expect from 23NKG?
The Nordic Congress is an excellent occasion to bring together expertise in aging research from multiple disciplines, exchange information, and start new collaborations.
I expect the 23NKG to be of a very high scientific standard in many different aging disciplines with a focus on multi-disciplinary themes. Furthermore, that I will learn a great deal and become informed about the progress of ongoing and emerging research, and that I will meet old friends and colleagues. Finally, I hope to experience the wonderful summer nights in Finland at the end of each congress day.

Interview with Maria Lage Barca

Congratulations to the prize for promising researcher in gerontology Dr Maria Lage Barca! What do you think are the most exciting present and future developments in your field of aging research?
Thank you. Depression has been shown to be a risk factor for dementia of all types, therefore there is the possibility to prevent dementia by treating depression, among other risk factors. I find this very exciting.

23NKG is a multidisciplinary conference where the participants have the opportunity to broaden their perspective beyond the themes of their own immediate research areas. How would you like to motivate social scientists and humanists to attend your lecture?
Depression is highly prevalent among elderly in general and specifically among patients with dementia and leads to a number of negative consequences. Since it concerns so many people, it should be interesting for people with different backgrounds.  

In your mind, how can the Nordic Congress contribute to aging research in general? What do you expect from 23NKG?
The Nordic Congress gives the possibility of getting updated in a broad number of themes and areas within gerontology, and specially interacting with other researchers with common interests. 


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