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Aging Science Expedition - CECAD live

High-Class Evening Event on June 12th, 2012:
Opening of the Exhibition "Aging Science Expedition – CECAD live"

It doesn't happen overnight. People age. Why? What causes the known signs? Why do the usual illnesses set in? Familiar questions for us all. In an exciting, high-profile event, the Cluster of Excellence CECAD (University of Cologne) offered guests from business, politics, administration and science penetrating insights into CECAD’s future, internationally competitive research programs into aging. 

Prof. Axel Freimuth, Rector of Cologne University, Mayor of the City of Cologne Jürgen Roters and President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) Cologne, Paul Bauwens-Adenauer, highlighted key issues in their opening addresses. As the Mayor pointed out: “Modern research is complex, multi-layered and fascinating. And above all: Aging research is of great relevance to society, also in Cologne. Cologne is recognized as a top research location, and one in which the now firmly established competence center for aging research, comprising the University Cluster of Excellence, the University Hospital, the two Max-Planck Institutes for the Biology of Aging and for Neurological Research and DZNE (The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases), has international resonance. The City, University and University Hospital of Cologne have collaborated closely and successfully for many years, a collaboration that I myself underlined in detail during the assessment of the Excellence Initiative of the University of Cologne in early February. With suspense, we await the decision over this, due on 15th June 2012.”

Cologne holds a strong position in international research. Collaborations with commercial enterprises, start-up companies founded on innovative concepts developed at the University and the intensive cooperation of the University with the IHK and City of Cologne are evidence of this. As the Rector emphasized, the University has close links to external research institutions and business enterprises in Cologne. In an innovative, forward-looking approach, we have defined key areas of research, through which intensive exchange with bordering research fields can be stimulated. CECAD with its research into aging is one such area, providing vital impetus for the future.”

The aim of this evening’s event was to strengthen Cologne’s position as an economic base, said President of IHK Cologne, Paul Bauwens-Adenauer: “ The research cluster CECAD needs partners to put its discoveries to use. These partners can and should come from the commercial sector. We are therefore confident that this evening will provide an initial stimulus to get acquainted, hold talks and set up collaborations. My hope is that it will stimulate excellent scientific research and open up excellent opportunities for the regional economy.

Over 400 researchers of international standing work in close interdisciplinary cooperation at CECAD. Their research findings provide an important impetus  in an aging society. In his address, Prof. Jens C. Brüning, scientific Coordinator of the Cluster and Director of the Max-Planck Institute for neurological Research explained: “Our vision is to define novel, common therapeutic approaches to a whole range of aging-associated diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, kidney failure or chronic inflammation. Our distinctive focus is on “translational research, i.e. the systematic translation of the results of basic research into clinical applications for the great benefit of our society.”

A round of discussions showed how there was fun to be had for guests too in this cross-disciplinary and complex research field. Putting its research aims in a social context, CECAD had invited leading researchers, political scientists, economists and a specialist in medical ethics to join the debate. Everyone wants to live to a good age. Everyone wants to age in a healthy way. It should not be expensive for all of us. More and more people are getting old but few remain healthy as yet. How can this pressing problem be solved? Guests experienced an exciting debate, enthusiastically hosted by professionals from the German radio station radioWissen and the University Hospital, with transmission shifting here and there between the three levels of the foyer.

Those who find worms repulsive had a chance to learn how intriguing they are as an object of research. Looking through one of the high-tech Zeiss microscopes was a special highlight for many. Dr Ulrich Simon, CEO and President of Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH offered some thrilling insights into microscope developments in microscopy and imaging procedures. Such views of the inner workings of the body are not something you’re offered every day.  Research is really fascinating.