German Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka paid a visit to University Hospital Aachen on 28 July, making RWTH Aachen University the first stop of her summer tour. It is both here and at Forschungszentrum Jülich that the “Jülich Aachen Research Alliance” (JARA) initiative is based. In JARA-BRAIN, both institutions have pooled their expertise in translational brain research in psychiatry and neurology, for example using imaging techniques and the digitization of large volumes of data. Basic researchers work together with clinical researchers and clinicians in an interdisciplinary manner to investigate how healthy ageing is related to the functions of the brain. They investigate what factors influence a person’s health in the ageing process and how psychological and neurological disorders in old age can be predicted, prevented, and treated.
From the left: Prof. Frank Schneider, Director JARA und JARA-BRAIN, Prof. Johanna Wanka, German Federal Minister of Education and Research, Prof. Rudolf Mathar, Prorektor für Forschung und Struktur der RWTH Aachen, Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt, Vorstandsvorsitzender Forschungszentrum Jülich, Dr. Rudolf Henke, Mitglied des Bundestags.
JARA-BRAIN has placed a great emphasis on the promotion of young scientists ever since it was founded. As part of her visit, minister Wanka therefore spoke in particular with the young scientists involved in the research alliance. In three separate sessions, the minister learned about current research being conducted. The first of the topics focused on which changes in the brain related to the ageing process are normal and which are the sign of an illness that possibly requires treatment.
The second was dedicated to the motto “A healthy mind needs a healthy body” and focused on the role of intestinal flora and muscles in the ageing process, the positive and negative effects of sport, and the neuroscientific study of human hearing.
The third topic dealt with how digitization offers opportunities to provide better visual representation and overarching evaluations of a large number of studies; subsequently, possible therapeutic influences on, for example, memory processes were presented. The latter are researched as part of JARA-BRAIN, for example using the method of neurofeedback in MRI scanners. The minister subsequently witnessed a practical demonstration of this method in the research MRI scanner of University Hospital Aachen’s Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.
Members of the JARA-BRAIN section intensively discussed these highly topical issues with the minister.
Pictures: © Uniklinik RWTH Aachen
The Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA) research initiative was founded in 2007 as part of the Excellence Initiative. Through JARA, a new form of cooperation was established between both institutions, closely linking university research at RWTH Aachen University with non-university research at Forschungszentrum Jülich. The collaboration ensures that the joint research of complex issues with united research expertise is possible on a long-term basis. The initiative today comprises six sections, addressing issues including brain research, energy, information technology, and new materials. JARA-BRAIN was one of the three founding sections.
Further information can be found at: www.jara.org and www.psychiatrie.ukaachen.de
Information about the summer tour of Prof. Wanka: https://www.bmbf.de/de/Wanka-ueber-Zukunft-des-Alters-Sommerreise-2016.html
Prof. Dr. Dr. Frank Schneider
Managing Director JARA and Director JARA-BRAIN
Director of the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
University Hospital Aachen
Telefon: 0241 80-89633