News from the NAR-Kolleg
As part of her dissertation project, NAR-colleague Carmen Grimm visited development projects aimed at older persons in Peru
In 2014, Carmen Grimm, who is currently a doctoral student of the graduate programm of the „Network Aging Research“, conducted a 5-month field research in the Peruvian Andes. The stay was part of Carmen‘s anthropological dissertation on the topic of „concepts about old age and older persons in international development cooperation“. For this part of her research, Carmen Grimm visited two Peruvian non-governmental organizations that put aid projects for the target group of older persons in the Andes into practice.
Long-term participant observations, formal interviews, and informal conversations enabled Carmen Grimm to learn a lot about the life of older persons. In the area, where the aid projects are conducted, the daily living is dependent on agriculture. Tubers play an important role: for example potatoes, but also varieties unknown in Germany, such as Maswa or Oca. The huge biological variety manifests itself in potatoes in all kinds of colors and forms. Agriculture – especially sowing and harvest time – structure different phases in the cycle of the year (the photograph shows „Carnavales“ (carnival), an important festivity).
Finally, the way a person perceives his or her own age and aging is strongly connected to the ability of still farming one’s own land. This indicates the extent to which images of old age and aging are influenced by their respective cultural and ecological context.
NAR-Kolleg Retreat 2012 - This year’s retreat for NAR-Kolleg took place in 5th-8th December, in Hegne
The group had workshops with a PhD coach in this 4-day period. In the direction of the requests from the participants, the workshops focused on improving time management skills, motivation, communication skills and future career planning. During the workshops, the colleagues had the chance to get to know each other better and learn from each other’s experiences. On one of the days, the group also made an excursion to the Christmas Market in Konstanz.
The retreat took place in a warm, friendly environment. The PhD coaching workshops were found very useful and helpful by all the participants for their PhD projects. Additionally, the retreat has helped to improve the group dynamics among the colleagues.
New Members of the NAR-Kolleg: Ethnologist Carmen Grimm
In September 2012 Carmen Grimm started her dissertation on the topic of Images of old age. Carmen Grimm studied ethnology, psychology and English studies at the Heidelberg University and the University of Oslo. During her study she worked as a research assistant and in ethnological museums.
Images of old age are perceptions on age, on aging and of older people. They exist on an individual- as well as societal level. They influence the way aging is addressed and how the elderly are treated. In the dissertation project, such concepts of aging and their influence on institutional level shall be researched with the assistance of ethnographic methods.
New Members of the NAR-Kolleg come from the field of Epidemiology and Musicology
Already in November, Aysel Muezzinler started with her dissertation on the subject: “Association of leukocyte telomere length with age related diseases and functional impairments”. Aysel comes origionally from Turkey and studied masters in Epidemiology at the Imperial College London after completing her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Manchester, UK.
She is working on her dissertation at DKFZ in the division of Clinical Epidemiology and Ageing, in the supervision of Prof. Dr. Hermann Brenner. Additionally, her research aims to investigate the relationship between telomere length and lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity and socioeconomic status in different elderly age groups. Blood samples from participants of ESTHER study will be used for telomere length measurements.
Telomeres are gene-poor regions in the ends of chromosomes which shorten by each cell division. Length of telomeres is determined by inheritance and environmental exposures. Factors that increase oxidative stress within the cells such as smoking and inflammation cause shortening of telomeres. Telomere length has been proposed as a potential biomarker of ageing as it is affected by both hereditary and environmental factors. Therefore, it can indicate the biological and physiological state of an individual more precisely than chronological age.
The current findings in the field about the specific relationship of telomere length with diseases and lifestyle factors are contradictory and scarce, especially in the elderly population. Therefore, this research will contribute to the clarification of evidence if telomere length can be used as a biomarker of ageing.
Since February 2012 Susanne Dick is the newest member of the NAR-Kolleg. She studied musicology at the Hochschule Detmold and the University of Paderborn and worked as a teacher and research assistant. Since 2010 she is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Research on Musical Ability (IBFM) in Paderborn with Prof. Dr. H. Gembris.
Her main research focuses on the musical development and talent at older age. In this empirical dissertation project, Susanne Dick is referring to psychological concepts about activity and productivity in older age and the basic question which musical and other activities professional musicians pursue after retirement.
Birgit Kramer, member of the NAR-Kolleg, gave a speech at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA
Birgit Kramer, member of the NAR-Kolleg, participated in “Progress through Collaboration: Addressing the needs of Alzheimer’s disease with innovation”, which was held at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The day-long event was hosted by Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy Program of Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy and Pfizer Inc. further
Christian Stock, scientist at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, received the 2011 endoscopy award, which includes price money of 15.000 Euro. The German Association for Digestive and Metabolic Diseases (DGVS) and the Olympus Europe Foundation give the research award to extraordinary achievements of junior scientists in the fields of fundamental research or clinical research in endoscopy. further