Stanford scholars noted for contributions to aging

Three members of the Stanford community are among the “2015 Influencers in Aging,” which honors 50 inspiring thought leaders, innovators, doctors, authors, advocates, experts, executives and other “extraordinary people who are changing what it means to grow old in America.”

The Stanford honorees are LAURA CARSTENSEN, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and a professor of psychology; KEN SMITH, director of the longevity center’s mobility division and organizer of its annual Design Challenge; and PHIL PIZZO, founding director of the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute (DCI), a professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and immunology, and former dean at Stanford School of Medicine.

The list includes 10 honorees in each of five areas covered by Next Avenue, which publishes a free weekly online newsletter aimed at America’s booming 50+ population. It is the first “Influencers in Aging” list that Next Avenue has announced.

Stanford honorees were chosen in three areas that Next Avenue addresses: Carstensen in “Living & Learning”; Smith in “Health & Well-Being”; and Pizzo in “Work & Purpose.” (The other two areas are “Money & Security” and “Caregiving.”)

Next Avenue honored Carstensen for “revolutionary challenges to negative views about aging that have resulted in an ongoing societal transformation. Looking through the lens of lifespan, she and her colleagues seek to solve the problems of those over 50 while making life better for all. Her latest publications have looked at both lifespan and workspan, and how, with our increased longevity, we might change our concepts of work and retirement.”

Next Avenue applauded Smith as the organizer of the Design Challenge, which offers cash prizes and free entrepreneur mentorship in a competition open to university students around the world who want to design products and services that optimize long life for everyone. This year’s challenge – Using Happiness to Optimize Longevity – consists of three categories: Mind, Mobility and Financial Security. This year’s deadline is Dec. 11.

Next Avenue cited Pizzo for launching the DCI (Distinguished Careers Institute), which helps established leaders from all walks of life who seek to transform themselves for roles with social impact at the local, national and global levels. Its 2015 cohort of 24 fellows is now in the final quarter of the yearlong program of intellectual exploration and personal reflection. DCI recently announced the 25 fellows chosen for its 2016 cohort.

Among the other honorees on the inaugural “Influencers in Aging” list are cartoonist Roz Chast, author of Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant; philanthropist Bernard Osher; and musician Glen Campbell, who is allowing cameras to roll as he lives with Alzheimer’s disease. Next Avenue chose Dr. Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, as “Influencer of the Year.”