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Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, Cologne, Germany

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Founded in 2008, the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biology of Ageing is one of more than 80 independent non-profit institutions under the umbrella of the Max Planck Society. The overall goal of its research is to gain fundamental knowledge of the ageing process that can enable people to stay healthy for as long as possible. An international team of scientists from nearly 30 nations is working on uncovering the underlying molecular, physiological and evolutionary mechanisms.

Located on the campus of the University Hospital of Cologne, this MPI is an integral part of a regional life science cluster of partner organizations with strong scientific connections that are focusing on the research of the ageing process and age-related diseases. Regional partners include the MPI for Neurological Research and the excellence cluster CECAD (both also in Cologne) as well as the DZNE and the caesar research center (both in Bonn).

Together with their regional, national and international partners, the scientists at the MPI for Biology of Ageing investigate how cells age in the course of their life span, which genes are involved and the role played by environmental factors. To do this, they research basic processes in so-called model organisms: The genes of the mouse (Mus Musculus), the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) and the nematode  (Caenorhabditis elegans) are known, and the life expectancy of these organisms is relatively short. They are therefore particularly suitable for researching the ageing process. In 2013 another model organism, a short-lived fish species, will be added.

The founding director of the MPI for Biology of Ageing is Linda Partridge from the UK. She has headed the institute since research work began in 2008 together with Nils-Göran Larsson (Sweden) and Adam Antebi (USA).

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new building took place in the year 2010. Completion is scheduled for December 2012. Until the removal date, the various teams are spread among several buildings of the University Hospital in Cologne.

As one of the youngest institutes of the Max Planck Society, the MPI for Biology of Ageing is continuing to expand and is ultimately to have a workforce of about 350 staff. There are plans for at least eight groups of junior scientists and a fourth department to be headed by another director.

Illustration: New building of the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing (model). Completion is scheduled for the end of 2012.