We are living longer and longer as we learn more about healthy lifestyles and medical interventions to prevent and treat disease. This is a triumph of civilisation to be celebrated. Unfortunately, this does not mean that we suffer less from the disabilities and health problems that come later in life. Age is the major risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Parkinson´s and for cardiovascular disease and cancer, to name just some of the most prevalent age-associated diseases.

Why do we become more prone to disease with growing age?

We do not have the answer yet. That is why we are putting a tremendous effort into uncovering the underlying mechanisms. We already know that if we ameliorate the ageing process in animals we protect them against diseases of ageing. The next step is to understand the ageing process itself. Then we have to to find out exactly how slowing it down lowers the risk of so many conditions - especially neurodegenerative diseases, marked by a progressive loss of nerve cells (neurones) as it is the case in the most common form of dementia: Alzheimer´s disease.

How can we stay healthy for as long as possible?

Our aim is to make discoveries that will enable people to stay healthy for as long as possible as life expectancy keeps growing. Of course, it is important to adopt a lifestyle, including diet and excercise, that helps to maintain mental and physical fitness. This is something that people can do for themselves, while we the scientists explore the new medical possibilities. By studying the ageing process in model organisms - round worms, mice, fish and flies - we will pave the way to ameliorating the ageing process and increasing health during ageing in humans.

Finding answers in cooperation with our scientific partners

We can make progress to achieve important results by bringing together the greatest experience, the deepest knowledge, the most creative thought and the complementary skills required in the field of ageing research. This is why we cooperate with top-class scientific partner organizations. We already have close ties with the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research and the CECAD cluster of excellence, both co-located with us on the University of Cologne campus, as well as the caesar Research center and the DZNE in Bonn.