Aging is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century that affects every aspect of society.

Worldwide, the proportion of older people (>65 years) is predicted to almost double by 2050 (WHO 2021). In Flanders, by 2060, one person in three will be over the age of 65 (Statistics Flanders 2021). Unfortunately, this longevity increase is not proportional with quality-of-life years. On the contrary, this aging society is associated with a dramatic increase in chronic and degenerative diseases. This unhealthy aging has large consequences for the individuals, their families, and society that has to cope with a larger number of dependent older people, creating tremendous pressure on health care resources. Aging, as it stands, is an unprecedented challenge, and there is an urgent need to invest in healthy aging and treatment of unhealthy aging.

Following the PhD-research of dr. Anton De Spiegeleer, which investigated the ageing syndrome of sarcopenia, the University Hospital Ghent supported the foundation of the TRIGG (Translational Research in Immunosenescence, Gerontology and Geriatrics) group.

The goal of TRIGG is to aim for gerontological and geriatric innovation and state-of-the-art research by bringing together outstanding expertise in translational medicine available within the University Hospital Ghent, Ghent University and external partners.

Leading collaborators in TRIGG are scientists and clinicians from the geriatric department of Ghent University Hospital, the immunology laboratory embedded in the rheumatology department of Ghent University Hospital and the DruQuaR laboratory from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Ghent University. Conducting this research with the dream of infinite healthy life in mind, TRIGG scientists and clinicians want to realise already clinically relevant steps towards a more healthy old age.

The current main research focus of the TRIGG group is the loss of muscle mass, strength and function with accelerated, unhealthy ageing, also called sarcopenia. Increasing evidence points towards an important role of immunosenescence and the (gut) microbiome in the pathophysiology of sarcopenia. TRIGG researchers have extensive experience and knowledge in these two pathophysiological dimensions. The research in the aging microbiome-immune-muscle axis is translational, i.e. from cell-experiments up to human studies.