Jacobs Foundation $1 Million Research Prize Winners: Early Support Reduces Health Costs In Old Age

Professors Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi Present Their Trailblazing Theory at the Jacobs Foundation Award Ceremony

Dec 03, 2010, 09:37 ET from Jacobs Foundation

ZURICH, Dec. 3, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Jacobs Foundation -- a global non-profit organization committed to research that will better the lives of children -- recognized the winners of their annual Klaus J. Jacobs award, Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi, for their monumental research which indicates the risk of age-related illnesses can be reduced and the associated increase in health costs mitigated with the aid of professional care and support in early childhood.  The Anglo-American scientists were awarded one million dollars to build upon their instrumental research into child and youth development.

A husband and wife team, Moffitt and Caspi, professors of neuropsychology at Duke University and King's College in London, have concentrated their studies on the long-term impact of significant childhood experiences. Their next focus will be to study the effects on health and how certain interventions during childhood and through adolescence can lessen the effects of early stresses on an adult's physical well-being.  

"We are proud to honor Professors Moffitt and Caspi," said Dr. Auma Obama, the newly elected member of the Jacobs Foundation board of trustees and half-sister of President Barack Obama , who has committed her own career to youth development projects in East Africa. "Their findings confirm our belief that development programs to support young people are practical and necessary, especially for children and young people in precarious situations."

Moffitt and Caspi's initial investigations had shown that stress and traumatic experiences in childhood increase the risk of developing immunodeficiency disorders, heart and circulatory problems, as well as age-related dementia.

According to Terrie Moffitt, care and support during early childhood would become a key to decreasing the problems of aging societies.  If the connection between a less stressful childhood and health in old age proves to be conclusive, the onset of age-related illnesses would be postponed, and in some cases, even eliminated.

Moffitt and Caspi will continue to study how to curb the increase in health costs, fuelled by increased life expectancy and an aging baby-boomer era, and make for a healthier global society.

Find initial photos of the award ceremony on Flickr at 10:30 am ET:


Find all additional information on the winners and the prize at


About the Jacobs Foundation

The private Zurich-based Jacobs Foundation was established by the entrepreneur Klaus J. Jacobs in 1988. It has since been involved in the area of child and youth development and now possesses decades of experience in the promotion of research and specific education programs and their implementation. The foundation adopts an approach to child and youth development which underlines the positive development possibilities of young people. The foundation is particularly committed to scientific excellence and evidence-based approaches. With its 200 million Euro investment in Jacobs University Bremen (2006), it has set new standards in the area of private-sector support.

SOURCE Jacobs Foundation