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Falling Walls Circle – Round Table: Challenges and Best Practices of Ageing Societies

Berlin University Alliance, University of Oxford, Falling Walls Foundation | Henry Marx, Melinda Mills, Diana Rothe, Irene Tracey, Elke Schäffner, Robot RoMi

Population aging is a global phenomenon that affects both developing and developed countries. From social isolation and loneliness to economic implications and pressure on healthcare systems, increasing life expectancy and declining birth rates lead to a multitude of key challenges affecting society as a whole. Addressing these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that involves government and healthcare policies, social services, community initiatives, intergenerational collaboration, and technological innovations. As with all global challenges, the transnational approach including exchange on best practice is particularly promising.

This panel discussion will gather speakers from Berlin and Oxford with a high expertise on issues regarding the challenges of rapidly aging societies and spotlight potential solutions and approaches to tackle the consequences in a transdisciplinary way.

Supported by Berlin University Alliance and the University of Oxford.


Henry Marx

Senate Department for Higher Education and Research, Health and Long-Term Care

Henry Marx is the Permanent Secretary for Higher Education and Research of the state of Berlin. As deputy head of the Senate Department he is responsible for all political and administrative decision of the government of the state. Especially the implementation in political processes in cooperation with the universities and research institutions in Berlin are part of his portfolio. His goal is to further strengthen the excellent research portfolio of Berlin and enabling researchers with the best conditions a city can give them. He holds the post since May 2023. Before Dr. Henry Max received his PhD in history and worked as a consultant and as teacher in public schools in Berlin.

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Melinda Mills

University of Oxford

Melinda Mills is Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, University of Oxford, Professor of Demography and Population Health, Founder of Data4Science and Special Advisor to the European Commissioner of the Economy. Her work is highly interdisciplinary, combining demography, molecular genetics, statistics and behavioural research. Mills has received numerous honours and awards including an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire, 2018), elected as Fellow of the British Academy (2018), Trailblazer Award (2022), Excellence in Impact Award (2021) and Clifford C. Clogg Award (2018).

Diana Rothe

pi4 Robotics

Diana Rothe is the head of Innovation and Service Robotics department of pi4_robotics GmbH in Berlin, Germany. Her main focus is on the development of robots that support people in their daily life. She is closely connected to local and international partners to gain a better understanding of people’s demands and to translate these into meaningful tasks for the development and design of robots. One of her recent projects is the interactive care assistant robot Workerbot9 Care-home, which emerged from the project called RoMi. Currently, the priority is to overcome the many legal, financial and bureaucratic hurdles that currently prevent a common deployment of robots in care facilities.

Irene Tracey

University of Oxford

Irene Tracey CBE FRS FMedSci is Vice-Chancellor at the University of Oxford and Professor of Anaesthetic Neuroscience in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, a department she led for several years. She is also President of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS). She was a founding member of the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, and its Director from 2005 to 2015. She is a leading pain neuroscientist. She is on the Medical Research Council. She was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to Medical Research in 2022, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (2015), and was recently elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society (2023).

Elke Schäffner

Deputy Director Institute of Public Health

Elke Schäffner is professor of nephrology and health care research, as well as an epidemiologist at the Institute of Public Health, Charité−Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany where she is also deputy director. She played a pivotal role in establishing a new Master of Science Program in Public Health at the Berlin School of Public Health. Her primary fields of research are renal epidemiology and aging, with a particular focus on chronic kidney disease in an aging society and biomarkers for assessing kidney function. She is principal investigator of the landmark Berlin Initiative Study, a population-based cohort study investigating the epidemiology of kidney disease in more than 2000 elderly patients over a decade. The study has provided unparalleled high-quality primary data about the natural course of kidney function in elderly persons. Dr. Schaeffner joins the editorial board of American Journal of Kidney Diseases as international editor. In 2022, he was awarded the distinguished leader award of the American Society of Nephrology and was elected an executive board member of the German Society of Nephrology.

Robot RoMi

pi4 Robotics

RoMi is a nursing assistant robot, who relieves the burden on nursing staff and supports people in need of care. The electronic person, officially named Workerbot9 Care-Home, is a creation of the pi4_robotics GmbH. Robot RoMi was born in Berlin, Germany, where the development was financially supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BmBF). A thought child of Dr. Diana Rothe and Matthias Krinke, robot RoMi can deliver drinks, food and other items, as well as send a variety of different messages, like appointment reminders. The nursing assistant is easily operated, and data protection compliant. Instructions can be given directly or via mobile telephone.

About the Venue
Radialsystem – Glassfront Tent
Holzmarktstraße 33
Berlin, 10243 Germany

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