Science Minister Clemens Hoch presents Rhineland-Palatinate with €1.56M in funding for ageing research


22 November – The Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and its University Medical Center (UMC) will receive funding for the second phase of their joint research project, the " Science of Healthy Ageing Research Programme” (SHARP).

The SHARP project aims to investigate the molecular causes underlying the ageing process and thus makes important contributions to our understanding of ageing and its associated diseases, such as dementia and cardiovascular disease. As human life expectancy steadily increases, the development of treatments and therapies that enable healthy ageing and promote the best possible quality of life is becoming increasingly important.

Last week, Science Minister Clemens Hoch presented a state grant of €1.56 million to the SHARP partners. The first phase of the project has now been successfully completed and the second phase is scheduled to run until the end of 2025. "Funding of this joint project on ageing between IMB, Mainz University and its University Medical Center represents an important step towards strengthening the national and international position of our medical and life science leaders. Furthermore, it positions Mainz as an internationally visible beacon in the field of ageing research." Clemens Hoch continued: "The high performance of our research landscape was visibly demonstrated by the development of the COVID-19 vaccine by BioNTech/Pfizer. Such scientific findings are the result of years of research at JGU and UMC, and constitute a central starting point for important scientific developments. Cooperation with industry – such as the non-profit company TRON GmbH in the case of vaccine development – is essential for maximising the chances of success. This is a particularly impressive demonstration that sustainable research funding by the state is bearing fruit that benefits society as a whole."

"Beyond the scientific knowledge gained, SHARP creates an important bridge between basic molecular research at IMB and clinical research at UMC," said the Vice President for Research and Young Scientists at JGU, Prof. Dr Stefan Müller-Stach. "We are pleased that the state government continues to support our strengths in ageing research with this clear commitment to scientific excellence."

"We are very pleased to receive this continued funding. The SHARP funding helps us build a better network between physicians and basic scientists," said Prof. Dr René Ketting, Executive Director of IMB. "This in turn makes it possible for us to tailor research to better match the health and needs of ageing patients."

"SHARP is an important step in securing the innovative capacity of Mainz as a centre of science and research through the targeted integration of doctoral students in our highest-performing groups in ageing research. We have already established an elaborate selection procedure in the first funding phase to bring together bright and motivated minds. They will now take on the challenge of finding new perspectives for preventing and treating age-related diseases in our ageing society. The interdisciplinary SHARP programme is complemented by both specific and general training courses for the students and thus makes an important contribution to ensuring the future viability of our institute, even beyond our own location and the funding period of the SHARP project. We are therefore very grateful for the state of Rhineland-Palatinate’s consistent support of ageing research", says Prof. Dr Hansjörg Schild, Deputy Scientific Director and Vice-Dean for Research at UMC.

The SHARP partners are key players in the biotechnology landscape of Rhineland-Palatinate, which the state government intends to expand consistently over the next few years. The state of Rhineland-Palatinate plans to continue the strong promotion of life science research and invest at least €100 million over the next 10 years. This is to be doubled through federal and private funding. A further €10 million will follow for new priority investments in the current legislative period.

Background information on SHARP:

The Science of Healthy Ageing Research Programme (SHARP) project aims to strengthen collaboration between basic molecular biology research groups at IMB and preclinical and clinical research groups at UMC. Funding is provided for projects in which basic researchers work directly with patient-oriented researchers. Combining the expertise of basic researchers and clinically-oriented scientists leads to a faster application of results from basic research and ensures that the treatment of patients at the University Medical Center is in line with the latest medical research.

Additional networking will be achieved by recruiting doctoral students for collaborative projects on the "Biology of Ageing", which will be jointly supervised by IMB and UMC. SHARP therefore combines the strengths of research on the molecular mechanisms underlying ageing with research on age-associated diseases. In this way, SHARP will bring together a broad expertise to make new discoveries on the key molecular mechanisms underlying ageing and how cutting-edge technologies can be applied to treat age-related diseases. This breadth and depth will contribute to significant advances in ageing research, which will translate into clinically applicable approaches for patients. Mainz is ideally positioned as a science location for the establishment of SHARP, as there are already a significant number of basic and clinical researchers active in a broad range of key areas in ageing research.

Further details

Further information can be found here.

About the Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH

The Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH (IMB) is a centre of excellence in the life sciences that was established in 2011 on the campus of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). Research at IMB focuses on the cutting-edge fields of epigenetics, genome stability, ageing and RNA biology. The institute is a prime example of successful collaboration between a private foundation and government: The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation has committed 154 million euros to be disbursed from 2009 until 2027 to cover the operating costs of research at IMB. The State of Rhineland-Palatinate has provided approximately 50 million euros for the construction of a state-of-the-art building and is giving a further 52 million in core funding from 2020 until 2027. For more information about IMB, please visit www.imb.de.

About the Centre for Healthy Ageing

The Centre for Healthy Ageing (CHA) is a virtual research centre launched in 2021 that brings together scientists in basic and clinical research from across Mainz that focus on ageing and age-related diseases. These findings should be used to promote healthy ageing and to find treatments that could prevent or cure age-related disease. For more information, please visit: www.cha-mainz.de.

About the MWG:

The Ministry of Science and Health (MWG) represents the departments of Science and Health within the Rhineland-Palatinate state government. This includes medical care in the state, as well as the areas of universities and research. Rhineland-Palatinate is a state of innovation. In expanding science and technological development, the state's numerous coordinated measures focus specifically on key areas of growth. Through this, it succeeds in improving the scientific competitiveness of universities, expanding research infrastructure, attracting more top researchers and intensifying the transfer of knowledge between science and industry. The state government also wants all citizens to have the same access to high-quality, affordable medical and nursing care, regardless of whether they live in a city or a rural region in Rhineland-Palatinate. It therefore promotes the systematic networking of outpatient and inpatient care, as well as new treatment concepts and innovative medical products.

About Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) is a globally recognised research-driven university with around 31,000 students from over 120 nations. Its core research areas are in particle and hadron physics, the materials sciences, and translational medicine. JGU's success in Germany's Excellence Strategy programme has confirmed its academic excellence: In 2018, the research network PRISMA+ (Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter) was recognised as a Cluster of Excellence – building on its forerunner, PRISMA. Moreover, excellent placings in national and international rankings as well as numerous honours and awards demonstrate the research and teaching quality of Mainz-based researchers and academics. Further information at www.uni-mainz.de/eng

Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation

The Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization that is committed to the promotion of the medical, biological, chemical, and pharmaceutical sciences. It was established in 1977 by Hubertus Liebrecht (1931–1991), a member of the shareholder family of the Boehringer Ingelheim company. Through its Perspectives Programme Plus 3 and its Exploration Grants, the Foundation supports independent junior group leaders. It also endows the international Heinrich Wieland Prize, as well as awards for up-and-coming scientists in Germany. In addition, the Foundation funds institutional projects in Germany, such as the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), the department of life sciences at the University of Mainz, and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. www.bistiftung.de


Press contact for further information

Dr Ralf Dahm, Director of Scientific Management

Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH (IMB), Ackermannweg 4, 55128 Mainz, Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 6131 39 21455, Email: press(at)imb.de


Susanne Gellweiler, Press Officer

Ministry of Science and Health (MWG), Mittlere Bleiche 61, 55116 Mainz, Germany

Phone: +49 6131 16 2839, Email: susanne.gellweiler(at)mwg.rlp.de