Year of Science 2011 – Research for Our Health

The Year of Science 2011 – Research for Our Health – focuses on the human being and launches an interdisciplinary dialogue in society about the objectives, challenges and fields of modern health research.

In line with the definition of the World Health Organisation (WHO), for the Year of Science 2011 – Research for Our Health – health is defined as physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely as the absence of disease or infirmity. Again in 2011 the Year of Science 2011 – Research for Our Health – can thus continue in its tradition of discussing future topics of our society across all disciplines. This twelfth Year of Science 2011 – Research for Our Health – is organised by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in collaboration with Wissenschaft im Dialog (WiD), an initiative by the German Science, and numerous partners from different fields such as science, industry, politics and culture. Several hundred actors will be involved in the Year of Science 2011 – Research for Our Health –, presenting their own information and offers for participation.

Promoting dialogue

Rather than backing pure knowledge transfer, the Year of Science 2011 – Research for Our Health – launches a dialogue which is open for everyone to take part: at public events, discussions and on the Internet. Children and adolescents are invited to exchange their ideas and express their hopes, questions and wishes. Questions such as “How can ideas heal people?” represent main themes for the dialogue.

Questions addressing health research

Man is the sole measure of health research. Another objective of the Year of Science 2011 – Research for Our Health – is to discuss visions and options critically with the public because this also involves new challenges and issues which matter to them. Three examples bear witness to the range of topics in the Year of Science 2011 – Research for Our Health.

Widespread diseases and demographic change

The average age of the population in Germany today is 42.9 years, tending to increase. In 2050 about every third person will be 65 and older and serious diseases such as dementia, Parkinson, cardiovascular diseases, depression or cancer are expected to occur with greater frequency. What innovative diagnostic methods might speed-up early detection of such diseases? How can research results be integrated faster in regular medical care? And how can research ensure that a healthy life and healthy work will also be possible in old age?

Differentiated medicine

Children and adolescents must receive different therapies than adults. Men and women respond differently to certain medicines. Already today researchers are able to analyse and precisely control the mechanisms of cell actions based on a person’s hereditary disposition. Is it possible to develop drugs against cancer with individual effects? Does this make it possible to develop new organ transplantation methods to match the specific genetic make-up of individual patients?

Prevention and nutrition

Some diseases evidently depend on personal behaviour and the stress arising from the social and physical environment. Therefore health research devotes itself systematically to the impact of the climate and environment and of nutrition and movement on the human organism. It is common knowledge: prevention is better than curing. However, how can incorrect personal behaviour be prevented? Is it not possible for recent research findings to result in new information strategy? In which way can health research contribute to the effectiveness and efficiency of measures for primary prevention and health enhancement?

The provider responsible for the Year of Science 2011 –
Research for Our Health

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

With the Years of Science the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) provides a public platform for an exchange between science and the general public. The main objective is to familiarise a larger public with recent research findings and current scientific challenges, to fill children and young people with enthusiasm for scientific topics and to encourage the dialogue about them. Each of the first ten Years of Science was devoted to a specialist discipline – for example physics, mathematics, chemistry and computer science – or to a research personality (Einstein year 2005). Since 2010 they focus on interdisciplinary future-oriented topics.

Wissenschaft im Dialog (WiD)

Wissenschaft im Dialog (WiD) represents an initiative which was established in 1999 by the leading German scientific organisations with the support of the BMBF following the suggestion of Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. By means of exhibitions, science festivals, conferences and symposia it prompts dialogue between science and society and seeks to arouse a fascination for research, particularly in young people. The highlights of these WiD activities in 2011 are among other things the nationwide tour of the floating science centre, MS Science, and the 2011 Science Summer in Mainz.