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Age Friendly University

Keynote Speakers

Professor Alexandre Kalache

Co-President of the International Longevity Centre-Brazil (ILC BR), Former Director of World Health Organisation (WHO)

Professor Alexandre Kalache

Alexandre Kalache is a specialist in age-related issues. Specifically, his expertise is in the epidemiology of ageing & the life-course, inter-sectoral policy development (including age-friendly initiatives), health promotion, old-age care, human rights and migration within the context of ageing as well as the more general cultural complexities of the world-wide longevity revolution.

Professor Kalache has been a leading pioneer in ageing issues for close to forty years in various roles: as academic, international civil servant and advocate. His was one of the very earliest voices to articulate the global nature of population ageing, together with the potentialities and the risks through inaction inherent within it. His contributions toward the shifting of the traditional paradigms in the field of ageing are widely acknowledged on the global stage.

Following his medical training in Brazil and then his MSc and PhD in the United Kingdom, Professor Kalache held research and teaching positions at both the Universities of Oxford and London for almost twenty years. During this time he founded the Epidemiology of Ageing Unit at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (1983) and created the first European Masters degree in Health Promotion (1991). From 1995-2008 he directed the World Health Organisation’s global Ageing and Life Course Programme from the Geneva headquarters. During his thirteen years at WHO he launched the Active Ageing Policy Framework (2002) and the global movement on Age-Friendly Cities (2007) among many other enduring initiatives.

In 2008 he relocated to the USA where he assumed a new position as Senior Policy Adviser on Global Ageing to the President at the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM). He simultaneously commenced the role of Global Ambassador for the London based HelpAge International the largest and most influential worldwide civil society organization on ageing.

In 2012 Alexandre Kalache took up the Presidency of the newly-created International Longevity Centre-Brazil in his home city of Rio de Janeiro. ILC-Brazil is an autonomous think tank which is part of an international consortium of fourteen such centres. Concurrently, Professor Kalache serves as Global Ambassador of HelpAge International, Senior Advisor at the New York Academy of Medicine and sits on a multitude of boards ranging from the World Economic Forum to the Gulbenkian Foundation. He acts as worldwide adviser on ageing issues to national, state and municipal governments, civil society organisations and the private sector.

Professor Kalache is the recipient of many lifetime achievement and contribution to medical science awards. He has also been listed among the 100 most-influential Brazilians. Among his more recent accolades are Honorary Citizen, São Paulo Municipal Government (2014); Emeritus Citizen, Rio de Janeiro Municipal Government (2013); Presidential Award of the International Federation of Ageing (IFA) (2012); the United Nation’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2011) and the Brazilian Presidential Medal of Merit (2010). 


Keynote Speaker, Professor Alexandre Kalache


Professor Desmond (Des) O'Neill

Consultant Gerontologist, Adelaide and Meath Hospital.
Prof. Des O'Neill

Desmond (Des) O'Neill is a Professor of Medical Gerontology in Trinity College Dublin and a consultant geriatrician in Tallaght Hospital. His research interests centre on ageing and the neurosciences with a particular emphasis on the humanities, and he has authored over 300 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. He was worked collaboratively with a wide range of disciplines, including artists, scholars in the humanities, ethicists, architects and musicians, and is passionately interested in developing the process of interdisciplinary research on the themes of ageing and memory.

As Chair of the National Centre for Arts and Health, he has worked with a number of national cultural agencies and institutions to develop the concepts of arts, ageing and health. He helped develop the first course for artists in health care in Ireland, has broadcast on Lyric FM, and is an active contributor to the British Medical Journal Blogs and national media on matters relating to ageing and the humanities.

His book, Ageing and Caring, was published by Orpen Press in November 2013. He was awarded the All-Ireland Inspirational Life Award in 2010 for advancing the cause of older people, and the Joseph T Freeman Award by the Gerontological Society of America in 2014.