Molecular Mechanisms of Ageing and Longevity at BioRN Annual Conference


Latest research highlights, pitch presentations and networking at BioRN Annual Conference 2022.

Modern societies are facing a dramatic demographic change with an ever-increasing life expectancy, and concurrently, a growing number of elderly and very elderly people. At today´s BioRN Annual Conference at the Halle 02 in Heidelberg, experts in the field addressed different aspects of the molecular mechanisms of ageing and longevity. The Young Scientist Pitch Competition showed once again the innovative power of the biotech industry in the Rhein-Neckar region. BioRN received the ECEI GOLD Label “Excel in Cluster Excellence".


Heidelberg, October 7th: Over 200 participants from BioRN cluster members gathered at the Halle 02 in Heidelberg to attend an exceptional conference whose reputation, combined with the radiance of the life science hub, attracts top international scientists.


The conference was introduced with Caren Niessen´s keynote “Novel concepts in Aging and Aging-associated Diseases. Niessen is Professor and scientific head at CECAD, the Cologne excellence cluster on Stress Responses in Aging-associated diseases (CECAD). The latest findings from her research group shed light on how the molecular and cellular bases of the aging process can be decoded and were examined in more detail in the subsequent Q&A Session. “What I realize is that if you look at aged tissues there is often a big change in the cell shape and in the tissue shape and the tissue architecture and we still understand very little how these processes are actually effecting aging and if it’s a cause or a consequence of ageing”.


Peter Walter, SVP & Institute Director of Altos Labs in San Francisco elucidated in his key-note “Targeting the Cell´s Stress Pathways for Therapeutic Benefit” the advances in the lab’s efforts to understand the molecular details of the unfolded protein response (UPR), a conserved signaling network that surveys the protein folding status in the endoplasmic reticulum.

“Aging is not inevitable. However we can achieve a “programmed obsolescence”. We must understand the programs that drive these decisions and, to the possible extend, edit or rewrite them. The end goal is to increase human health-span, rather than only lifespan, to allow everyone to live a fulfilling, healthy life longer”, concluded Peter Walter in his speech.

The presented findings and their impact in medical, social and economic factors were worked out very clearly in subsequent sessions.

Another highlight of the conference agenda was the handover on the occation of the ‘ECEI GOLD Label’ and ‘Cluster-Exzellenz Baden-Württemberg’ Award, by Dr. Nicole Hofmeister-Kraut. The Minister of economics, labor and tourism emphasized: “In the certification process, BioRN successfully demonstrated that the European standard of quality management and other requirements specific to Baden-Württemberg are met to a very high degree. I am very convinced that BioRN will continue the future efforts on this promising basis for the benefit of its members and partners in a proven manner.”


The Young Scientists’ Pitch Competition celebrated the research power of “rising academical stars” from the region. Enriched by the entertaining moderation of Carsten Hopf from Mannheim University of Applied Sciences, seven promising young researchers presented their research projects to key opinion leaders from the region. The audience nominated Carolin Lerchenmüller, Group Leader at Heidelberg University Hospital as winner, accompanied by the monetary prize of € 1000.


Julia Schaft Managing Director of BioRN concluded: “We are proud that each year top scientists follow our call and share their latest achievements with our members. The perfect match of top scientists, pitch presentations of promising talents and top-know-how “made in Rhein-Neckar” proves the radiance and extraordinary excellence of this life-science ecosystem. We can rightly claim to be one of the world´s leading life science clusters.”