What is more important lifespan or health span
Live healthily longer: what geriatric medicine can learn from fish
Torben Brinkema Press and public relations
German Society for Geriatrics (DGG)
What exactly happens in the aging process? Why do we age And how can people stay healthy and fit for as long as possible in their lives? Professor Dr. Christoph Englert at the Leibniz Institute for Aging Research - Fritz Lipmann Institute in Jena. The renowned geneticist uses experiments with animals, such as a short-lived killifish from Africa or roundworms, to find answers.
What current knowledge has he gained from this and how can these possibly also benefit the elderly? - This is what Englert shows in his keynote “Why do we age? Possibilities and limits of aging research "at the annual congress of the German Society for Geriatrics (DGG), which will take place from September 5 to 7, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main.
Current A fundamental question that Christoph Englert has been grappling with for a long time is: How do genetics on the one hand and external environmental factors and behavior on the other hand affect one's own aging process and life expectancy? “I would describe it like this: Our genes create a space of possibility and we fill this space with our way of life. How we do it is up to us, ”he explains.
Animal models in aging research should be used by humans
Using experiments, for example with certain short-lived fish species, Englert's research group tries to find out which genetic programs and biochemical signaling pathways control the lifespan of vertebrates. “There is a lot of evidence that there are general aging principles that occur in nematodes, fish, mice and humans too. We therefore need animal models in aging research in order to derive mechanisms for humans and to make use of them, ”says Englert.
Englert's vision: to extend the health span in human life
In the hope of a longer human life, for example, so-called senolytics are currently being tested in pharmacology: These are drugs that aim to remove certain aging cells. Professor Dr. Englert can understand the fascination for a very long life, but has a different goal himself: “With my research, I want to contribute to extending the health span in a human life, not life as a whole. The multimorbid phases could be shortened and the quality of life increased in old age. "
Geriatrics will become more and more important in the future
For geriatric practice, this would only mean a postponement. “Even if many people will be fit for longer, geriatric medicine is becoming more and more important. Because overall there will be more and more elderly people - and with increasing age, diseases also increase. Just think of Alzheimer's, ”says Englert.
The old person must move more into the social focus
In addition to biomedicine, numerous other areas are also required so that people can live healthily longer: “Important factors are, for example, education, the living situation or the general image of age. Bringing the elderly more into the center of society is also a task for politics, ”says Englert. For many people, aging is still more of a horror idea. That could be changed if seniors had more importance and tasks in society.
Professor Dr. Englert heads the molecular genetics research group at the Leibniz Institute for Aging Research in Jena. After studying biochemistry at the University of Tübingen, he did his doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried and completed his habilitation in genetics at the University of Karlsruhe. Since 2004 he has been a professor at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. Professor Dr. Englert is an editorial board member of the magazines "Cells", "Experimental Gerontology" and "PLoS ONE". In 2010 he received the Max Bürger Prize of the German Society for Gerontology and Geriatrics and in 2018 the Thuringian Research Prize.
Prof. Dr. Christoph Englert
Keynote lecture: “Why do we age? Possibilities and limits of aging research "
Lecture hall center, Westend campus, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Friday 6th September 2019
2.30 p.m., lecture hall 2
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German Society for Geriatrics (DGG)
The German Society for Geriatrics (DGG) is the scientific specialist society of doctors who specialize in medicine for the later stages of life. In addition to many other mobility restrictions and falls, dementia, incontinence, depression and nutritional issues in old age, important focal points of her work. Often geriatricians also deal with issues of drug therapy for the elderly and the interactions that various drugs have. Care is about looking after the elderly holistically and helping them to live independently and self-determinedly for as long as possible. The DGG was founded in 1985 and today has around 1700 members.
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