NEWS | September 18, 2020

Sacramento philanthropists lend support to healthy aging efforts

UC Davis Health receives $2 million to advance Healthy Aging in a Digital World

(SACRAMENTO)

David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health, today announced a $2 million gift from Angelo K. and Sofia Tsakopoulos, and Chrysanthy and George Demos, to support the health system’s commitment to improve the health and well-being of older adults.

Tom Nesbitt is co-champion of the Healthy Aging in a Digital World initiative. Tom Nesbitt is co-champion of the Healthy Aging in a Digital World initiative.

The funds will directly support the Healthy Aging in a Digital World initiative, led by Tom Nesbitt and Heather M. Young, featuring a diverse team of scientists interested in preserving independence and choice for people as they age. This project includes collaboration with researchers around the world to identify, develop and evaluate cutting-edge technologies that can optimize health and social function for people as they age.

One powerful tool for healthy aging is the built environment—the human-made spaces where people live, recreate and work. Reimagining the built environment and including planning for models of care for chronic disease, supported by technology, can increase independence for older adults.

“This gift from the Tsakopoulos-Demos families will accelerate the efforts of the Healthy Aging in a Digital World initiative to make that vision a reality,” Nesbitt said. “With 95% of Americans over the age of 75 wanting to stay in their homes indefinitely, there is an opportunity to identify community services and supports needed as the population ages.”

To prepare for these changing demographics, California Governor Gavin Newsom called for the creation of a Master Plan for Aging that can serve as a blueprint for state and local government, private sector and philanthropy to promote the health and well-being of older adults and those with disabilities. Faculty at UC Davis serve on the stakeholder advisory committee.

At the university, a diverse group of UC Davis experts also works to identify solutions that can be put into real-world practice. Donor contributions allow them to advance these ideas and leverage existing UC Davis strengths.

“We are deeply honored and grateful to have the opportunity to support the outstanding research of Tom Nesbitt and Heather Young, under the leadership of the exceptional David Lubarsky. There is growing evidence that the home environment can profoundly bolster health and improve outcomes for older people and those with chronic conditions,” said Chrysanthy Demos, president and CEO of AKT Development, and daughter of Angelo and Sofia. “We share a vision with UC Davis to pursue innovative solutions to improve homes and other built environments in ways that support health and vitality.”

“UC Davis Health is committed to cultivating the healthiest and highest-functioning older adult population in Northern California. We begin with an emphasis on interprofessional collaboration.” Lubarsky said. “But we must also establish extensive relationships in our community and across industries. This generous gift from the Tsakopoulos and Demos families illustrates how public-private partnerships advance this important work.”

Today, UC Davis Health works to become more convenient for the people it serves both through better access and through telehealth. Video visits have dramatically expanded in the current pandemic and will continue to better serve more people in their communities and homes, which is especially valuable for people who find travel difficult.

The Angelo K. Tsakopoulos family is well-known for its work in developing innovative, master-planned communities. They pioneered the planning and building of environmentally responsible smart-growth communities long before the concepts of sustainability were embraced by the marketplace. Their experience with community design and work with home builders gives them clear insights into the role of the built environment on people’s health and wellness. 

The family also has a longstanding, philanthropic relationship with UC Davis. In 1998, they invested in the creation of the UC Davis MIND Institute, which today is an international research center committed to the awareness, understanding, prevention and treatment of the challenges associated with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Sofia Tsakopoulos also served on the UC Davis Foundation Board under Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef.

“We have always looked to UC Davis for exceptional leadership in solving our communities’ greatest challenges,” Angelo K. Tsakopoulos said.  “From founding the groundbreaking MIND Institute for the study of autism and the brain, to the new frontier of Healthy Aging in a Digital World, we are honored to have the opportunity to continue to support UC Davis’ work. We thank them for all they do for our city, our state, our nation and the world.”

UC Davis Health is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. For more information, visit health.ucdavis.edu.