Caenorhabditis elegans has a lifespan of 20 days. The worm is as small as a comma and consists of only 959 cells. Caenorhabditis elegans is very different from Homo sapiens who might, at least in Germany, live for as long as 79 years or more. Nevertheless, the tiny worm is the most important model organism for researchers into ageing who use it to study the development of age-related diseases and the ageing process itself.
Baumeister is hoping to discover the secret of ageing using systems biology methods. He hopes to describe the entire network of genes and their interaction with each other. He also hopes that this will provide him with insights into the coupling of ageing to many age-related diseases in order to be able to positively interfere with this network sometime in the future. And of course, the major player in these experiments is once again Caenorhabditis elegans. The small worm will be at the centre of an important task at the University of Freiburg: it will make an important contribution to breaking down the borders between research disciplines. Successful work in the field of systems biology requires close interdisciplinary cooperation.