The overall mission of our institute is to make fundamental scientific discoveries about the ageing process. In doing so, we aim to elucidate the molecular, physiological and evolutionary mechanisms underlying ageing. The long-term research goal of the institute is to pave the way to healthier human ageing. Therefore, ways are sought to intervene in the ageing process in such a way that it can be postponed and age-related diseases such as dementia diseases, Parkinson's disease and cancer can be prevented.
Currently, much of the research at the institute focuses on four topics: the molecular genetics of ageing, the regulation of metabolism in old age, the study of the ageing brain and the role of mitochondria in ageing processes. In addition, research groups are investigating evolutionarily conserved mechanisms for ageing, the role of insulin signaling in ageing processes, and how DNA replication and repair, as well as epigenetics and protein homeostasis, influence ageing. We are also exploring how the immune system and microbiome affect aging.
Research on model organisms
The strategic concept of our institute focuses on understanding ageing by working with different model organisms. This idea grew out of the breakthrough discovery that single gene mutations in metabolic signaling pathways can extend health and lifespan in simple invertebrates. It was later shown that these same signaling pathways were also effective in mice and perhaps in humans. Currently, the institute conducts work on five different model organisms: Worms (Caenorhabditis elegans), fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), toxoplasma parasites (Toxoplasma gondii), turquoise killifish (Notobranchius furzeri) and mice (Mus musculus).
Ageing process in humans
The studies on model organisms are in the long term to be linked with comparative studies in humans. To this end, we are examining samples from patients in the clinic and conducting studies on long-lived families. Research at the institute will also attempt to understand the links between the ageing processes and multiple age-related diseases.