From its inception, the Institute for Transdisciplinary Discoveries (ITD) aimed at providing both the academic environment for an interdisciplinary approach and the means and conditions to allow these advances to reach out beyond the academia walls, into the community and to the business environment, as to exert maximal impact and influence, to the benefit of the society.


We are now happy to announce the first ITD Theme: Ageing, engaging with one of the most important issues of our times, relevant across the world, in all countries, irrespective of their level of economic development or political system.

The success of modern medicine has brought about a significant increase in longevity and, according to UN data,  the number of older persons — those aged 60 years or over — is expected to more than double by 2050, while globally population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups [1]. And with such demographic changes there is an expected increase in the health expenditure, as ageing is associated with increased morbidity of a long list of chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases.

However, Ageing is a much more complex theme, with relevant factors and implications well beyond the medical model, and ‘ageing’, as social reality, is placed at the confluence of a variety of societal factors (economic, social, political cultural)  with personal elements (psychological, philosophical, religious, creative/artistic). Thus we will encourage our fellows to look at Ageing from different perspectives, and Biological or Cultural or Social or Economic viewpoints will be equally important and relevant; they will just be starting points for creating interdisciplinary projects.

It is also important to keep in mind that an engagement with the theme of Ageing does not mean necessarily an attempt to “sort out” ageing, that is, to concentrate on and ‘resolve’ only the negative aspects associated with ageing. There are many positive features of ageing, particularly for the ‘young old’ (e.g., wisdom, personal development, availability for wider involvement in the social life and volunteering, etc), and a whole field of positive psychology is developing. In addition, various developing programs of Active Ageing are looking at means to prevent or at least diminish the biological and cognitive effects of normal ageing. We would like to further develop all these areas of research and bring them to the public in our transdisciplinary efforts. In these efforts, it would appear the modern technology can be an unexpected tool in improving the quality of the personal experiences. [2]

In most instances, talking about Ageing means, implicitly, talking about biological ageing - of human beings, or of animals, or of processes and phenomena influencing human existence. However, in addition to this anthropological ageing perspective there is also a material ageing, taking place in the physical world. Ageing of materials or products implies changes of the original state, but it does not necessarily only comprise deterioration or degradation. Ageing can also mean formation of new substances and stabilisation and maturation, and sometime, as in the case of wine, this effect is desirable. We would also like potential fellows of ITD to engage with such processes, maybe relating it with anthropogenic activities or with cultural or social perspectives.

 

ITD Fellowships

The Institute of Trandisciplinary Discoveries is looking to offer upto 3 (three) Visiting Fellowships positions, each of them for up to 3-6months duration, to be held at the Institute, based at the University of Pecs, Hungary. We are now inviting proposals towards appointing these fellowships. Each proposal needs to propose the development or the continuation of research projects and studies that will bring together various disciplines, with at least some touching on one or another dimension of ageing. One of the relevant criteria is that at least one of the project participants is from the University of Pecs, the oldest University in Hungary, and one of the major higher education institutes of the country, with 10 faculties, 32 clinics and a winery research facility [3]. Alternatively, we would also encourage engagement and contributions from one of the social or business stakeholders in Pecs [4].

Awardees are expected to give seminars on their chosen topic to students in English approximately once every 2 weeks. Winners will receive salary (€ 3,000) to cover living expenses.

 

[1]  World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision

[2]  Riva, G et al (2014) Positive Technology for Healthy Living and Active Ageing.   Stud Health Technol Inform. 203:44-56.

[3] University site: https://pte.hu/english ; Research Portfolio: https://pte.hu/english/research_groups .

[4] Pecs Chamber of Commerce: http://www.pbkik.hu/en