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History of the German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (DGGG)

Since its foundation more than sixty years ago, the "German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics", though bearing different names during the decades, has been the pivotal and constantly evolving organization for age researchers in Germany. Inaugurated in 1938 by the internist Max Bürger in Leipzig as "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Altersforschung" ("German Society for Age Research"), it was renamed the following year to emphasize the ambition of researching not only age itself but the process of aging (resulting in "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Alternsforschung": "German Society for Aging Research"). This first gerontological society in Germany was predominantly an assembly of geriatrics, thus being a mere medical society and reflecting the affinity of age research to medicine in these times. After World War II gerontological research in the divided Germany inevitably resulted in two different branches of development.

Society for Aging Research and Society for Gerontology of the GDR, respectively
As Leipzig, birth place of the "German Society for Aging Research", was located in the GDR after 1949, the work of the organization was continued there at first, until 1964. In 1966 it was replaced by the "Gesellschaft für Alternsforschung der DDR" ("Society for Aging Research of the GDR"). Werner Ries, a scholar of Max Bürger, was made the first chairman of the organization. In 1969 Ries took the chair of Internal Medicine and Gerontology at the university of Leipzig. Though hampered by difficult circumstances, he, as well as his collegue Friedrich-Horst Schulz in Berlin, succeeded in promoting gerontological research. It was particularly the idea of interdisciplinary research which defined the work of this new gerontological society in the GDR. Following the international trend it was renamed into "Gesellschaft für Gerontologie der DDR" ("Society for Gerontology of the GDR"), in 1977.

German Society for Gerontology (DGG)
The tradition established by Max Bürger was continued in Western Germany (FRG), too. It was a characteristic of the progress in the FRG to cross the boundaries of a confined medical and biological approach to the aging process, and to re-orientate towards interdisciplinary research. When the "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gerontologie" ("German Society for Gerontology") came into being in Nuremberg in 1966, it was consequently opened to sociology, psychology and other scientific fields. Collegues of Max Bürger, namely Erich Letterer, a pathologist from Tübingen, Adolf Störmer from Munich and René Schubert from Nuremberg, both internists, were accredited originators of this new society. René Schubert was the first chairman of the DGG, which he remained until his death in 1977, and (in 1970) the first to take a chair in gerontology in the FRG. According to the DGG`s understanding of gerontology non-medical scientists were energeticly and successfully involved in the society`s work, e.g. Karl Specht, a sociologist from Nuremberg and Hans Thomae, a psychologist from Bonn. As result of this development in the DGG a section "sociology" as well as a section "psychology" were founded as early as 1967.

In both parts of Germany the view on gerontology has been profoundly altered, not at last by the influence of the two mentioned societies. Due to the conclusion that aging is a biological, psychological and social fate, research of the aging process displayed a challenge to medicine as well as natural- and social sciences as a whole.

In the aftermath of these considerations the two German gerontological societies held regular congresses. It may be highlighted that in 1981 the DGG hosted the twelvth world congress of the International Association of Gerontology (IAG) in Hamburg. The chairman of this congress, Hans Thomae, was head of the DGG (1977-1980) and head of the IAG (1981-1993). Respective congress reports prove the magnitude of discoursed topics and the high quality of the evolving interdisciplinary gerontology in Germany. Additionally the DGG soon created an own, regular forum, the "Zeitschrift für Gerontologie", published since 1968, as well as a journal for publication of selected congress papers named "actuelle gerontologie". Furthermore, Wolf D. Oswald and Siegfried Kanowski established the interdisciplinary journal "Zeitschrift für Gerontopsychologie & -psychiatrie". Undoubtedly, these journals represent a serious improvement in the opportunity to publish gerontological work and therefore have contributed and will keep on contributing to the advancement of gerontology in Germany.

German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (DGGG)
Like in many other aspects of life, the reunion of the two German states in 1990 marked an important cut-point in the history of the two German gerontological societies. While cooperation between the two societies was rather limited during the long period of segregation, suddenly a whole new prospect of collaboration of all German gerontologists came into sight. This chance was quickly seized. In 1991 the two scientific societies merged into one, which was henceforth called "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gerontologie und Geriatrie" (DGGG) ("German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics"). Of course the journal of the new society was instantly adapted to the new circumstances and is called today "Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie" ("Journal for Gerontology and Geriatrics"). In 1998 the DGGG was able to realize its fourth biannual congress in Heidelberg, which was themed "Research on Aging Faces New Social Challenge". In 1999 the DGGG hosted the fourth European congress on gerontology of the IAG. Last year (2000) the fifth congress ("Aging in the 21st Century: Facts - Visions") was held in Nuremberg in cooperation with the "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geriatrie" (DGG) ("German Society for Geriatrics"), the "Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gerontopsychiatrie und -psychotherapie" (DGGPP) ("German Society for Gerontopsychiatry and -psychotherapy"), the "Österreichische Gesellschaft für Geriatrie und Gerontologie" (ÖGGG) ("Austrian Society for Geriatrics and Gerontology") and the "Schweizer Gesellschaft für Gerontologie" (SGG-SSG) ("Swiss Society for Gerontology"). Social progression as well as evolution of living and living conditions will always contribute to the challenges gerontology will have to face. The "German Society for Gerontology and Geriatrics" is highly capable of assembling German gerontologists and supporting them with all resources a big association can offer.


Section I: Biology of Aging

Aim of this society is the study of age-dependent alterations of the organism. Organs, tissues, cells and cell compartments using humans, animals, insects and fungi as models.

The 63 members of the society are qualified in biochemistry, biology, molecular biology, clinical chemistry, physiology, anatomy, biophysics, immunology, genetics and clinical disciplines.

The research teams deal with

  • Calculation of the vitality (life expectancy) of organisms by longitudinal studies
  • Calculation of the biological age of different populations and individuals, resp. By measurement of physical, psychic, social, and clinical,chemical parameters (test battery)
  • Formulation of new hypothesis or theories of aging
  • Modulation of life cycle of flies by ressource proteins
  • Age-dependent influence of hormones (insulin, glucocorticoids, growth hormone) in different organs
  • Role of proteins and protoglycans in different organs in aging
  • Age-related changes of blood vessels and lipoprotein metabolism, their connection with arteriosclerosis
  • Changes of cerebrospinal fluid and the blood-brain barrier in aging
  • Changes of neurons and synapses in aging and special diseases (M. Alzheimer, Parkinson's syndrom)
  • Influence of oxidative stress in different organs in aging and intervention by antioxidants
  • Skin aging and intervention
  • Bone aging and special diseases (osteoporosis)
  • Cellular signal transmission via glucocorticoid receptors in liver and brain cells
  • Age-dependent regulation of replication, transcription, and protein synthesis
  • Age-dependent changes of DANN and repair mechanisms
  • Role of telomeres in replicative cell senescence

In future, the aim of the society is the discovery of new aspects for the interpretation, prevention, and therapy of aging processes and diseases.

Chair of Section I:
Prof. Dr. Lars-Oliver Klotz, Prof, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Institut für Ernährungswissenschaften, Lehrstuhl für Nutrigenomik, Dornburger Str. 29, 07743 Jena, Germany, lars-oliver.klotz@uni-jena.de


Section II: Geriatric Medicine

In Germany 350 specialized geriatric departments and hospitals have emerged in the last 25 years. These institutions encompass 20.000 clinical beds, but only 20 % of the medical faculties in German universities have obtained professorships in Geriatrics. Since 5 years an accredited advanced two-year training system in the field of Geriatrics is established in all federal states in Germany.

Objectives of the Society of Geriatric Medicine:
  • holistic health care of elderly patients by medically conducted interdisciplinary cooperation in a multiprofessional team in the inpatient, semi-inpatient and outpatient sector of the medical supply chain,
  • cooperation with all occupational groups of gerontology,
  • promotion of education, professional and advanced training in Geriatric Medicine,
  • promotion of research in Geriatrics.
Major tasks:
  • promotion of scientific results and their implementation in medical diagnostics and therapy,
  • development of standards in diagnostics and therapy and their transfer into practice,
  • development of guidelines regarding prevention in old age.
Current research projects and studies:
  • the problems of stroke, hypertension, trembling and falling, osteoporosis, incontinence and nutrition with special consideration of prevention, therapy and rehabilitation as focal points,
  • a pilot project about outpatient geriatric rehabilitation.
Vocational politics:
  • promotion and establishment of Geriatrics as an independant, approved clinical discipline,
  • anchoring of Geriatric Medicine as essential among the fields of Internal Medicine,
  • encouragement of implementation of chairs for Geriatrics in medical faculties,
  • promotion of Geriatrics as compulsory subject in the studies of Medicine.

The Section II, the Society of Geriatic Medicine is in permanent cooperation with

  • The German Society of Geriatrics (DGG),
  • The section "Geriatrics" in the Professional Association of German Internists (BDI),
  • Federal Working Group of Geriatric Centers (BAG).
In collaboration with these organizations scientific meetings are continuously realized.

Upcoming tasks:
  • enhancement of applied clinical research,
  • enhancement of vocational politics,
  • integration of Geriatrics into the system of GR-DRGs.
Chair of Section II:
PD Dr. Heinrich Burkhardt, Universitätsklinikum Mannheim, IV. Medizinische Klinik, Schwerpunkt Geriatrie, Theodor-Kutzer-Ufer 1-3, 68167 Mannheim, Germany, heinrich.burkhardt@umm.de


Section III: Social and Behavioral Sciences in Gerontology

At the moment Section III includes mainly psychologists and sociologists. There are great efforts to attract representatives of other disciplines, for example of the industrial economics/industrial administration, pedagogics, history, politics and philosophy.

The members of this section are united by their interest in the multiple forms of age and the factors the are influenced by. A further focus of interest lies on studies of the continuity and discontinuity of behavior and experience as well as on the abilities and capabilities in older age. The members of the Society for Social and Behavioral Sciences are convinced that those topics can best be studied in interdisciplinary projects. Therefore they promote the cooperation between scientists from different disciplines and also pay attention to the exchange between scientific and applicational matters.

In Section III, aging is understood as a life long progress, influenced by personal and environmental factors which promote continuity or change. Among the personal characteristics life styles and life experiences should be highlighted, among the environmental characteristics the spatial and social environment, the material ressources and the social image of age are to be emphasized. Personal as well as social factors and backgrounds of aging lead to the analysis of ressources and risks of age, too. It has become clear, that the ressources and capabilities of older people are not sufficiently recognized today.

Members of the Section III are i.e. engaged in the following research projects:
  • The German Age Survey
  • Interdisciplinary Longitudinal Study of the Adulthood and Aging (ILSE)
  • Maintaining and Supporting Independent Living in Old Age (SIMA)

Annual Meetings of Section III give opportunity to present new ideas, new results and to exchange viewpoints among the members. Subjects of the Meeting 2001 were: Education and Training in Gerontology; European Master of Gerontology Post graduate curricula in Gerontology, Psychogerontology and Social Gerontology at the universities of Dortmund, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Heidelberg, Kassel and Vechta are realized and supported by members of the Section III, the Society for Social and Behavioral Sciences in Gerontology.

Chair of Section III:
Prof. Dr. Annette Franke, Evangelische Hochschule Ludwigsburg, Gesundheitswissenschaften / Methoden der Sozialen Arbeit, Paulusweg 6, 71638 Ludwigsburg,Germany, a.franke@eh-ludwigsburg.de


Section IV: Social Gerontology and Health Care Services for the Elderly

Section IV offers to scientifically and practically working colleagues a platform for the development of theoretical and practical aspects associated to work with the elderly and socio-gerontologically based politics for the aged.

Collaboration of the most different disciplines and professions is a specific quality of Section IV. Section promotes research and education by emphasizing a variety of scientific and practically orientated perspectives which are discussed by its members and which are communicated under the scope of daily work as well as on conferences.

Main work fields of Section IV are the areas of social gerontology, scientific social politics for the aged, social care research, practical research, and questions of education and empowerment. Section's interdisciplinarity and culture of discussion are the unalterable supposition to do justice to the multiple themes and work areas which result from the intersection of scientific research and practical aspects.

Section IV wishes to promote membership and active participation of all professional groups working with the elderly, including too non-academic professional groups and single persons. Organization of a steady exchange between practically and theoretically working persons is one of its most important tasks. In addition to the Section's or the Society's annual conferences this exchange takes place above all by

  • continuously operating working groups,
  • thematically orientated working group conferences,
  • own publications, and
  • comments based on scientific reasons.

Section IV is not a professional organization and not a representative of social casework with the elderly. Its deliberate distance and non-association to the mesh of interest groups renders the sharpening of the professional profile of social casework with the elderly and elderly care. Impulses are given which are different to interest groups' expertises. Position papers and thematic journal issues demonstrate the output of a balance between self reflexivity and interdisciplinary communication.

Working culture of Section IV is characterized by cooperation with other sections of the German Gerontological and Geriatric Society as well as by active participation of colleagues from other associations in Section's scientific programs. Furthermore there is a collaboration with other scientific societies which is above all documented by working groups (German Society for Educational Sciences, German Society for Social Casework).

Together with the "Federal Conference on Quality Assurance in Medical and Social Care Services" the Berlin memorandum of January 14th 2000 was formulated.

Chair of Section IV:
Prof. Dr. Kirsten Aner, Universität Kassel, Fachbereich Humanwissenschaften, Arnold-Bode-Str. 10, 34125 Kassel, Germany, aner@uni-kassel.de


Chairmen and Presidents
  • Presidents of the German Society for Gerontology (DGG)
  • 1966-1977 R. Schubert
    1977-1980 H. Thomae
    1980-1985 E. Lang
    1985-1987 I. Falk
    1987-1991 R. M. Schütz

  • Chairmen of the Society for Gerontology of the GDR
  • 1966-1969 W. Ries
    1969-1973 H. Siggelkow
    1973-1979 F. H. Schulz
    1979-1984 W. Rühland
    1984-1991 J. Haase

  • Presidents of the German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (DGGG)
  • 1991-1997 R. M. Schütz
    1997-1998 U. M. Lehr
    1998-2002 W. D. Oswald
    2002-2004 A.-K. Meyer
    2004-2006 T. Klie
    2006-2008 T. Klie
    2008-2010 C. Tesch-Römer
    2010-2012 M. Gogol


Congresses and meetings (since 1967)

German Society for Gerontology (DGG)

  • 1967 in Nuremberg
    The heart and respiratory organs in old age
    Psychology and sociology in gerontology
  • 1968 in Nuremberg
    Elderly people and modern traffic
    Metabolic disorders in old age
    Mutual gerontological questions of psychology and sociology
    Musculoskeletal disorders in old age
    Personality and achievement in old age
    Behavioral patterns and social status of elderly people
    Assistance of healthy or sick elderly people in retirement/nursing homes
  • 1969 in Nuremberg
    Therapy of infections in old age
    Cardiac therapy in old age
    Problems of digitalization in old age
    Rehabilitation in old age
    The problem of social isolation of elderly people
    The image of old age in the present society
  • 1970 in Nuremberg
    Physiology and pathology of aging
    Aging in an achievement-oriented society
    Geriatrical endocrinology
    Preparing to aging
  • 1971 in Nuremberg
    Age-dependent alteration of physiognomy, biomechanism and function
    Therapeutical characteristics of geriatrics
    New sociological and psychological findings regarding the aging problem
    Elderly people at work
  • 1972 in Nuremberg
    Problems of the age shift
    Experimental gerontology
    Theoretical and methodical contribution to the construct of the "age role"
  • 1973 in Nuremberg
    Vocational training in gerontology / geriatrics
    Arterial circulatory disorder
    Neurological geriatrics
    Surgical geriatrics
    Orthopedical geriatrics
    Experimental gerontology
  • 1974 in Nuremberg
    Adaptations to old age
    Practical geriatrics
  • 1975 in Nuremberg
    Active rehabilitation
    Nutrition in old age
    Endocrinology in geriatrics
    Experimental gerontology
  • 1976 in Berlin
    Ecology of aging
    Nutrition in old age
    Endocrinology in geriatrics
    Experimental gerontology
  • 1977 in Cologne
    Biology of aging
    Psychology and sociology of aging
    Drugs and old age
  • 1978 in Hamburg
    Endocrinology in old age
    Theories and models of aging
    Intervention and rehabilitation
  • 1980 in Berlin
    Cultural imprint of aging
    Monetary problems in gerontology
  • 1982 in Bamberg
    Crisis in old age
  • 1984 in Frankfurt/ Main
    The stroke patient- an interdisciplinary task for gerontology
  • 1986 in Travemünde
  • 1988 in Kassel
    The "new" old
  • 1990 in Lübeck
    Aging between hope and resignation
    Prevention, rehabilitation, irreversibility
Society for Gerontology of the GDR

  • 1985 in Berlin
    A contemporary view on aging and disease
    100th anniversary of Max Bürger
  • 1987 in Neubrandenburg
    Interventional gerontology
  • 1989 in Berlin
    The individual in old age
  • 1991 in Berlin
    Therapy in old age
German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (DGGG)

  • 1992 in Berlin
    First congress of the newly established and undivided "German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics", themed "Aging in Germany"
  • 1994 in Freiburg
    Aging and politics
  • 1996 in Leipzig
    Aging in health and disease
  • 1998 in Heidelberg
    Research on aging faces new social challenge
  • 2000 in Nuremberg
    Aging in the 21st Century: Facts - Visions
  • 2002 in Dresden
    Aging in Dignity and Solidarity

Honorary members of the German Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (DGGG)

  • Prof. Dr. Siegfried Eitner, Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Ingeborg Falck, Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Hanns Kaiser, Augsburg
  • Prof. Dr. Ursula Lehr, Heidelberg
  • Prof. Dr. Gerald Leutert, Leipzig
  • Prof. Dr. Werner Ries, Leipzig
  • Prof. Dr. Rudolf M. Schütz, Lübeck
  • Prof. Dr. Hans Thomae, Bonn
  • Dr. med. Jean-Auguste Huet, Paris
  • Prof. Dr. Simon Bergman, Tel Aviv
  • Prof. Dr. Francesco Mario Antonini, Florence
  • Dr. med. Robert Jacques van Zonnefeld, Haren
  • Prof. Dr. A. Ruiz-Torres, Madrid
  • Prof. Dr. Vladimir V. Frolkis, Kiev
  • Prof. Dr. D. F. Tschebotarew, Kiev
  • Prof. Dr. James E. Birren, Los Angeles
  • Prof. Dr. Hanna Hermanova, Chicago
  • Dr. med. Nathan Shock, Baltimore

Scientific Awards of the DGGG

The Ignatius Nascher Prizes in Geriatrics will be awarded by the City of Vienna during next year's 7th Viennese International Geriatrics Conference. more...

Max Bürger Award
The Max Bürger Award is granted since 1976 and is on the bi-annual congresses of the DGGG. From 2002 on the Max Bürger Award is founded by Pfizer GmbH. It has a value of € 12.500. For the rules of the gratification of the Max Bürger Award and further information please contact the president of the DGGG.

Margret Baltes Award for Junior Scientists on Behavioural and Social Research
As well as the Max Bürger Award, the Margret Baltes Award for Junior Scientists on behavioural and social research is granted on the bi-annual congresses of the DGGG. For the first time this award was granted on the 5th Congress 2000 in Nuremberg. The award is provided for scientists with excellent research in the beginning of their careers. Candidates should contact the president of the DGGG for further information. more...


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