Scientists in the German city of Cologne are leading the charge in preventing age-related diseases through a framework of key academic and research institutes.

Professor Dr Jens Brüning, Scientific Coordinator at The Cologne Cluster of Excellence on Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-associated Diseases (CECAD) and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Metabolic Research, says: “I am convinced that, once we completely understand how the ageing process works, we’ll be able to come up with new options for preventing and treating age-related diseases. Our children will be able to look into the future with more confidence.”

More than 400 scientists work in the CECAD laboratory complex, conducting research into ageing and age-related diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis and diabetes, and developing new preventive and therapeutic approaches to the treatment of disease. The complex links scientists at the University of Cologne, the University Hospital and the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Aging.

Cologne University’s Excellence status has resulted in an additional €120 million to invest in cutting-edge research, and Brüning says that support under the Excellence Initiative has enabled CECAD to both invest heavily in state-of-the-art microscopy and analysis equipment and recruit top scientific researchers from around the world. He adds: “Part of our success must come down to the fact that we’re based in Cologne. Ultimately the decision to join a research project always involves a mixture of scientific and personal lifestyle considerations.

“Training young scientific talent is also very important to us. The biology of aging is a relatively new area of research. In collaboration with the Excellence Cluster and the Max Plank Institute we’ve established a graduate school for PhD research students. It’s about investing into the future.”

The work has attracted international attention, too: Cologne has been chosen to host the 2017 international EUROMIT conference, the scientific gathering dedicated to understanding what role mitochondria play in ageing and disease development.

Indeed, the latest edition of Meeting Point Cologne, published by the Cologne Convention Bureau,  focuses on the theme chosen for this year by the Cologne Science Forum (KWR) – longevity and diversity in Cologne – and showcases the synergies between the convention sector and the local areas of scientific expertise in Cologne.

Science is the third largest employer in Cologne. The city hosts 14 public and private universities, research centres and clusters of excellence, among them the German Sport University Cologne and Cologne University of Applied Sciences, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the four Max Planck Institutes and the Research Centre Jülich, while the city’s BioCampus is a life science centre of international reputation.

Image: Cologne, increasingly recognised for its scientific research ©