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Heidelberg University is a comprehensive university that has set itself the task of contributing to a better understanding of the complex social challenges of our time and of taking an active part in shaping the future. To achieve these goals, we need a large number of strong disciplines. Equally important are research conditions that promote interdisciplinary thinking and working. Bridging the gaps between disciplines and research institutions – whether internally or in cooperation with our partners outside the university – is an integral part of our institutional strategy “Heidelberg: Realising the Potential of a Comprehensive University” that has led the university to success in both rounds of the German Excellence Initiative.  

With our research-themed magazine “Ruperto Carola”, we want to share this aspiration and this challenge with our readers. Now as ever, Heidelberg University aims to use the full potential of a comprehensive university with the different bodies of knowledge, methods and cultures inherent to each discipline and to create an environment that enables researchers to work together at answering humanity’s greatest questions. The subject of “Young and Old” is one of these major social challenges; the articles in this issue offer a glimpse of the many different ways in which Heidelberg University scientists are exploring this field of research.

I wish you a productive and stimulating reading experience.  

Yours, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel  
Rector of Heidelberg University  

Issue 1 · October 2012