November 24, 2003 | Press Release

The 2003 Longevity prize of the Ipsen Foundation awarded to James W. Vaupel

James W. Vaupel has just been awarded the 2003 Longevity prize of the Ipsen Foundation. The award ceremony took place in San Diego, California on November 22 during the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). Vaupel is founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research Rostock, Germany, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Rostock.

His work strongly contributes to the development of research on longevity and survival at the oldest ages. This especially has led to a better comprehension of mortality trajectories with the progression of age. His work has also contributed to the emergence of biodemography at the crossing of two disciplines, biology and demography, which usually collaborate little, according to an Ipsen Foundation statement. One of James Vaupel's talents is to bring researchers of varied disciplines together and to help them work effectively together. His work does not only touch upon several disciplines, but also across borders. His work on fruit flies with James Carey in Mexico, his work on twins with Kaare Christensen in Denmark, or his work on healthy longevity and centenarians with Zeng Yi in China, to name only some examples, well illustrate his universal interest in longevity. In addition to playing a major role in the development of European demography and its teaching, Vaupel preserves close professional engagements in the United States, thus reinforcing the exchanges between the scientific communities in the USA and Europe.

The Longevity prize of the Ipsen Foundation rewards major work in the field of longevity. Previously rewarded work focused on humans as well as on non-human species to better understand processes of ageing, its mechanisms and determinants. Former winners attest the importance of the topics covered by the prize: observation of extreme life durations, species with negligible ageing, successful ageing, caloric restriction, ageing male, genes of longevity. They also show the variety of disciplines implied in this research, e.g. biology of population, demography, genetics, medicine, and psychology. The Ipsen Foundation calls Vaupel's scientific contributions innumerable; one of his most important being the impressive accumulation of data on the question of the limits of longevity. James Vaupel has remarkably documented the plasticity of ageing and longevity, in terms of genetic heterogeneity or in terms of interaction with the environment. If traditional assumptions on the limits of human longevity are called into question today, it is not in the least mainly due to the work of James Vaupel. His work opens new avenues for research.

The Ipsen Foundation was established in 1983 under the aegis of La Fondation de France. The Foundation seeks to contribute to the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge as well as trigger debates on major scientific challenges for the years to come. Its actions are also aimed at encouraging lasting interactions between research scientists and clinicians, exchanges becoming crucial because of the extreme specialization of these professions.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.