Projektträger at the DLR, Germany


Observer to ERA-AGE

Dr. Wolfgang Ballensiefen, (Projektträger des BMBF im DLR)


PT-DLR is one of two main institutions in the area of health research in Germany and a primary funder of ageing research. It is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation specialising in research management and funding. It was founded to support mainly the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) in research management and the implementation of governmental programmes for research funding. PT-DLR implements the governmental 'Health Research Programme' (in partnership with other organisations). It organises the external evaluation of proposals and negotiates project contracts on behalf of the Federal Government. As a trustee for the funding budget, it administrates more than 580 million Euro p.a. on its own authority. Health research is the largest department of the PT-DLR (annual budget more than 120 million Euro). The Health Research Programme aims at improving the quality and efficiency of health research and the health research infrastructure. Funding is targeted towards identified areas of research, one of which is health related aspects of ageing.

PT-DLR has a total staff of 503, 82 of which work in the department for health research. Among these are 43 scientists and 19 administration specialists. Being a trustee for the funding budget from the BMBF, the quality of the work of the PT DLR is monitored continuously and certified according to ISO 9001 standards. PT-DLR is responsible for the implementation of national funding programmes (including the conception and development of ideas as well as organising calls for proposals and evaluations). Proposals are evaluated by external national and international experts. It also ensures the scientific follow-up of projects including reviews and final assessment. PT-DLR manages large consortia of public-private-partnerships and also organises public relations activities.

The German research landscape on ageing is rather diverse. Under the autonomy of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the health research programme covers a multitude of funding measures with close links to ageing, for instance networks of competence in Dementia, Parkinson's disease and projects of the national genome research network (NGFN). Moreover, specific programmes support research on prevention, health care, hormone replacement or cancer and cardiovascular diseases. In 2004 the total funding by these programmes was around 20 Mio.€.

The German ageing research is also financed under the umbrella of other funding or research organisations and ministries: In Berlin the "German Center of Gerontology (DZA)" focuses on age specific questions in the light of social, economic and political aspects. Some major institutions and centres working on age-related topics receive funding from research societies, such as the Max-Planck (MPG), Helmholtz or Leibniz society. Among them are the Leibniz-Institute for Ageing Research in Jena (IMB) and Max-Planck-Institutes (MPI), predominantly the MPI for Demographic Research in Rostock and the MPI for Human Development in Berlin. In addition, a new Max-Planck Institute is planned to investigate predominantly the molecular basis of ageing. Finally, the German Research Council (DFG), which is the largest funding agency nationwide, supports numerous projects on ageing; most of them are focused on basic research.

Recently, more Universities specialise on ageing research topics. For example, in Berlin, Dortmund and Bielefeld social aspects of ageing are investigated; at the University of Heidelberg/Mannheim and Erlangen/Nürnberg mainly basic and applied medical research is conducted.