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Network for Aging Research Established at the University of Heidelberg

Inaugural event to mark the inception of the Network for Aging Research (NAR) in the Great Hall of the Old University on 19 July 2007

On 19 July 2007 the newly established Network for Aging Research (NAR) presented itself to the public with an inaugural event in the Great Hall of the Old University, Heidelberg. Speeches were delivered by the internationally renowned demographer James W. Vaupel of the Max Planck Institute (MPI) of Demographic Research, the Heidelberg Alzheimer researcher Konrad Beyreuther and economist Axel Börsch-Supan from the Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging (MEA).

Biomedical research on aging is all set to become a new focus of research in Heidelberg and Mannheim. The new "Network for Aging Research” (NAR) establishes basic biological research on aging processes and medical age research as the third component alongside the existing approaches to the study of age and aging in the humanities, the social and behavioural sciences, medicine and economics. Together with the German Cancer Research Centre and the Central Institute of Mental Health, the participating Universities of Heidelberg and Mannheim have thus succeeded in founding the first tripartite aging research institution anywhere in Germany.

Founding director of the NAR is the internationally renowned researcher on Alzheimer’s disease and aging, Konrad Beyreuther. Deputy director is the epidemiologist Hermann Brenner, formerly scientific director of the German Aging Research Centre DZFA. For many years he has been a nationally and internationally acknowledged expert on diseases and functional restrictions affecting people in high old age. Beyreuther and Brenner are convinced that they will succeed in eventually making the NAR the leading aging research institute in Europe. As things stand, they have already been successful in gaining the support of internationally respected biomedical researchers for the NAR. Among them are the apoptosis researcher and immunologist Peter Krammer, epigeneticist Frank Lyko (a pupil of Rudolf Jaenisch), "clock gene” specialist Rainer Spanagel, chaperone researcher and Leibniz Prize laureate Bernd Bukau, stem cell expert Anthony D. Ho, cardiologist Hugo A. Katus and many other scientists of major repute.

The involvement of the renowned psychological gerontologists Andreas Kruse and Hans-Werner Wahl and the internationally reputed economist Axel Börsch-Supan ensure that all aspects of human aging will be accounted for in the NAR. Another job the NAR has set itself is to step up the integration and training of junior research groups with a view to offsetting the present lack of age research specialists worldwide. The Network for Aging Research is largely funded by Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Art.

Konrad Beyreuther: "I am firmly convinced that in the next 20 years we can succeed in halving the number of Alzheimer patients. But to do that we have to eschew preventive nihilism and implement scientific research findings in everyday life.” Accordingly, public relations need to be a major focus within the NAR. For more up-to-date information and an in-depth interview on the subject of Alzheimer’s disease go to

Dr. Birgit Teichmann
Aide to the Director
Bergheimer Straße 20
D-69115 Heidelberg
phone: 06221/548124, fax: 548100

Journalists should address their inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317
Editor: Email
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