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Translational Neurosciences

Diseases impairing the function of the central nervous system are key sources of low quality of life and early invalidity. Prominent examples are psychic disorders, chronic pain, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. In the near future, the demographic development will lead to a further incidence and prevalence of these diseases, in particular in the context of an urban environment. Existing therapy is often limited and the underlying pathomechanisms are poorly understood.

The research focus Translational Neurosciences therefore aims at clarifying the mechanisms that determine the clinical impacts of these diseases and translating this knowledge into precise tools for therapy and prophylaxis. In addition to general pathomechanisms, each individual patient is characterized by a unique environment that interacts with disease mechanisms: thus, individual internal factors such as gender, age and genetics and environmental factors, e.g.psychosocial interactions, urban health and personal history have to be clarified and considered to finally provide an optimal personalized diagnosis and treatment. Such complex interactions require multivariate analysis techniques that need to be adapted in a close interaction between clinicians and IT-experts collaborating in „digital health“-networks. Multiple divergent external factors have to be considered when validating pathophysiological mechanisms and promising therapeutical options in experimental systems and eventually in the patients to finally provide precision medicine optimized for an individualtherapy.

Key aspects:

  • Neuroinflammation and Pain
  • Plasticity and Modulation in the Nervous System
  • Mental Health throughout Life
  • Precision Medicine in Neuropsychiatry

Perspectives – Center for Translational Neurosciences

Establishing the Center for Translational Neurosciences (CTN) will facilitate to focus our research activities. The CTN will provide a platform coordinating research projects of the Central Institute of Mental Health (ZI) and the UMM; it will generate synergy that enables faster translation of basic science results into precise diagnostic and therapeutic tools. It will include the major neuroscience departments of the UMM campus (Neurology, Neuroanatomy, Neurosurgery, Microscop. Anatomy, Neuroradiology, Neurophysiology) and will also invite those specialities with close contacts and collaborations (such as Anesthesiology, ENT, Dermatology, Gastroenterology, Diabetology, Cell- and Molecular Biology, Immunology, Clin. Chemistry, Computer-Assisted Clinical Medicine, Radiology, Radiotherapy). The collaboration within the CTN will not impinge on the formal allocation of the contributing groups. This administrative flexibility will facilitate the external collaboration with groups from other faculties of Heidelberg University, University of Applied Sciences Mannheim and other research institutions (EMBL, DKFZ, KIT).

Key aspects of our research focus, are modulation of the nervous system in neurological and psychiatric diseases, neurovascular and neuro-oncologic disorders and neuro-imaging. We aim to raise awareness of neuroinflammation and neuromodulation as pathophysiological concepts involved in multiple disease entities and thus, increase their international visibility to the high level that psychiatric research and pain research in the ZI and in UMM already enjoy.

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