We’re On the Cusp of Even More Innovation in Parkinson’s

Stanford Design Challenge - Davis Phinney Foundation.

One hundred years ago, the average life expectancy of a person living in the U.S. was just shy of 55 years. Fast forward to 2019 and life expectancy has increased to almost 77 years! As we live longer, there is a big push to develop strategies and practices that help us thrive in these additional years.

To address this need, the Davis Phinney Foundation is proud to sponsor the Stanford Center on Longevity’s Annual Design Challenge. The Center’s aim is to foster innovation and to accelerate advancements in science, technology and policy to promote well-being across the lifespan. Alongside other efforts, the Center hosts an annual design competition that is open to university students across the globe who can earn cash prizes and entrepreneur mentorship. Previous winners have included “Ride Rite”, a computer-integrated bicycle handle that offered blind spot warning, navigational information and fall detection that could send automatic alerts to emergency contacts as well as “TAME”, a wearable device that can suppress tremors—both of which have applications for improving quality of life.  

This year’s theme, “Contributing at Every Age: Designing for Intergenerational Impact, drew submissions from 97 teams from 59 universities in 24 countries. Rather than designing to accommodate difficulties associated with older age, this challenge asked teams to design products and services that optimize long life for everyone 

This year’s competition was unique in that teams had to include at least one university student as well as one team member who identified as being of different generation from that student, mirroring the competition’s focus on intergenerational designs that work for all ages.  

Eight finalist design teams will present their designs on April 16, 2019, at Stanford. The Davis Phinney Foundation Research Program Manager, Dr. Sara Garvey will serve on the panels of thirty-two expert judges from industry, academia and non-profit organizations.  

Judging at this year’s competition is timely considering the work our Foundation has been doing over the past year. We rolled out our Sidekicks programan intergenerational program that brings together youth and people living with Parkinson’s to share stories through art projects, promote mutual understanding and foster connections. Partnering with a global pharmaceutical company, Lundbeck, we were able to host this program in four cities across the U.S. last fall and we are planning programs for ten cities in 2019. Initial results showed positive impacts for both the school-aged youth and people living with Parkinson’s, and we are excited to present and share these results with the Parkinson’s research community at the World Parkinson Congress in Kyoto in June.  

Stay tuned for more about the Design Challenge and WPC!  

Would You Like to Support Our Quality of Life Research?

Our organization is unique in that we focus our research funding on therapies and programs that have the potential to improve the quality of life of people living with Parkinson’s right now. To learn more and help us investigate the kinds of therapies that have the potential to truly change people’s lives, click here.

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