One of the most important challenges for all Europeans and specifically for the European medical and research community is the problem of ageing society. Poland, located at the heart of Europe, shares this problem with other European countries: our population is considered as one of the most rapidly ageing. Although the medical research, related to the healthy ageing, have been carried out at the Lodz Medical University for several years, already two years ago a group of researchers representing various areas of basic and clinical sciences came up with the idea of bringing their potential together to focus on selected issues of healthy well-being. That is how the Healthy Ageing Research Centre (HARC) was officially created. Last year our application to the European Commission 7 FP call was successful: we were granted RegPot funds to further develop the center scientific excellence with ultimate goal to become a distinguished medical research center in the field of ageing-associated diseases.
We want to achieve this goal by improving the research infrastructure, integration of existing and development of new projects, as well as by extensive collaboration at the international level. The most importantly, we managed to invite 25 distinguished international scientists from the most prestigious Universities to join us as our twinning partners for the project. Eight experienced researchers will be offered positions at our center for 3 years to further enhance the quality of the research conducted in our laboratories. Workshops and conferences, which will be organized in Lodz over the next three years, should further strengthen international collaboration and help us to develop new ideas for the future.
And the last, but not least - our aims go beyond research! We intend to raise the awareness of healthy ageing beyond the scientific community to authorities, industry, but also to general public.
Twelve internationally recognized scientists and representatives of local community agreed to act as members of the HARC Advisory Board - they indented to get together later this year, and we are looking forward for their counseling and support.
Although only 3 months have passed from the official starting date ( June 1st, 2013) the project is already well underway: all the work packages are developing their activity assisted by Kinga Zel, a newly recruited HARC Project Manager. The first guest researcher, Professor Richard Yanagihara from University of Hawaii, Honolulu (US), a renowned expert in the field of Hantaviruses arrived in Lodz and will work for the next two months with prof. Liberski’s group. A young researcher Sylwia Moskwa from my group has left for Imperial College in London to be trained at professor’s Sebastian Johnston Lab in airway epithelial cell culture. The positions for both experienced researchers and technicians available for 30 months at the center laboratories have been already advertised and applications for the positions are being submitted from all over the word. Even the first piece of research equipment was already purchased and will be put into operation in early October. On September 2nd, 2013 the official HARC website (www.harc.umed.pl) was launched, which should enhance HARC visibility and facilitate communication with local and international partners.
Now we are looking forward for the official HARC kick-off meeting, which will be held in Lodz on September 27th2013. The program includes scientific session (open to general public) with international speakers addressing the most burning issues related to healthy ageing research, and closed get-together of the HARC partners and EC representatives to discuss current activities and plans for future collaboration.
Professor Marek L. Kowalski M.D.,Ph.D.
HARC REGPOT Programme Coordinator
Director, Healthy Ageing Research Center (HARC)
Chairman, Department of Immunology, Rheumatology and Allergy
Medical University of Lodz