Passing on Experience and Knowledge

Ana Aslan

Life History - Part 20



Staff meeting in Ana Aslan's office
Staff meeting in Ana Aslan's office

From 1959 onwards, Ana Aslan tried to gather the entire staff at least once a year to exchange experiences. She organised symposia, conferences and round tables, where all the scientists and doctors of the institute were required to showcase their hypotheses, results and research as well as their experiences with patients. She considered this transparent way of exchanging experiences and passing on knowledge indispensable because Geriatrics was a very knew scientific field. New clinical and therapeutic aspects were brought to the table, and as a side effect, the co- operation in the teams of scientists improved. At such times they learnt to hold constructive talks instead of exhausting themselves in competition.


From 1980 onwards, she organised annual “Days of Gerontology and Geriatrics”. She did not agree with the separation of Gerontology into different fields of expertise, which was in fashion in Europe. She vehemently defended her comprehensive starting point, which maintained that a good gerontologist had to be a good sociologist and a good psychologist at the same time. She is therefore an absolute leader when it comes to inter-disciplinary scientific work. She was delighted by the establishment of the “First Multi-disciplinary Conference for Gerontology” in Brighton in England in September 1987. the first question of the Chairman of the Conference, Sir Ferguson-Anderson, was “Where the devil is Prof Ana Aslan?” Unfortunately she was unable to attend this ground-breaking event for which she herself had so tirelessly campaigned, due to health reasons.


After a tiring battle with the censorship authorities of the Ceausescu Regime, which often seemed a lost cause, March 1980 saw the publication of the “Rumanian Journal for Gerontology and Geriatrics”, an important organ for the publishing and distribution of the scientific results of the Institute within the international medical community. Ana Aslan signed the first thousand letters, which were sent with the journal, personally. It was placed in the subject libraries of medical faculties, distributed to internationally recognised scientists as well as to other Institutes for Gerontology and Geriatrics, and was the only open window to the Western international specialist circles. Even today, it is the only dependable source for the documentation for the scientific results of the Institute in Bucharest.


Foto - Ana Aslan

At the age of 80, Ana Aslan thought and acted like a 40 year old. She fought to make Gerontology and Geriatrics an independent medical speciality at the University, and wanted doctors to be trained in this area and to specialise. She demanded an independent Chair for Gerontology, as well as the revision of exam criteria for medics. Both these requests were refused by the wife of the Dictator, Elena Ceaucescu, who hated the successful scientist Ana Aslan. She directed many requests to the Ministry of education, and the Ministry of health. They were not answered or were answered indecisively.


Working conditions at the Institute had become far more difficult in general. Since Nicolae Ceausescu's coup, Rumania had gradually changed from a Communist to a Totalitarian system. Ana Aslan noticed the change. Possibilities for free scientific research became worse from year to year, and Parhon's influence waned. The pressure of the Ceausescu Regime on the Institute became stronger and stronger. The continuation of the health system Ana Aslan developed for the Rumanian people was endangered. The reduced possibilities to continue her research in Rumania had personal and financial limitations. In an effort to save her life work, she gradually transferred large parts of her “know-how” and her documents to Germany, to the “Deutsche ASLAN Gesellschaft” in Olsberg in the Sauerland.


For a number of reasons, the date for the “First national Conference for Gerontology and Geriatrics” was postponed twice. Ana Aslan was the President. For 3 years she had prepared for this scientific event. She saw it as the most important event in the entire history of the Institute. Finally, the conference was to take place from 9 - 11th June 1988, with international participation. The lectures to be presented there, in the spheres of Ethics and Aesthetics, comparative Anthropology, Chrono-Biology, as well as gerontological philosophy, were revolutionary. Ana Aslan could not be present, her long-postponed fate had caught up with her. Her spirit however, was very present, and at this Conference, her name became a legend.


The odyssey of the Institute for Gerontology and Geriatrics Bucharest was no easy journey and very often its exemplary development experienced difficulties. Looking the difficulties straight in the eye, Ana Aslan would often say the following:


“I shall fight to the bitter end for the truth and for my ideas. My constant motto is: Work, Truth, Light.”


In May 1988, Prof Ana Aslan died in Rumania at the age of 91 years, under unexplained circumstances.


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