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Application for Participation in the German Center for Mental Health 

MHH and UMG jointly apply for a DZP-Lower Saxony (DZP-LS)


Main Scientific and Structural Contribution to a German Center for Mental Health

The DZP-LS joins forces with clusters of excellence, Fraunhofer, Helmholtz, Max Planck, Leibniz Institutes, and German Health Centers to establish a strong DZP research platform. A Comprehensive Mental Health Center Lower Saxony (CMHC-LS) - arguably unique worldwide - will integrate 135 recruitment sites (hospitals, GPs, specialists), offering to the DZP family a transdiagnostic recruitment power house with deep clinical phenotyping and state-of-the-art biomaterial banking. The CMHC-LS is backed by one of the nationwide leading computing/biomedical data infrastructures, which follows Open Science / FAIR data principles and facilitates big data analysis across the DPZ sites.

Unique Research Capacities / Resources / Contributions of the partner site with regard to a German Center for Mental Health

The DZP-LS will pave the way for precision medicine in mental health care, pioneering personalized psychotherapeutic, pharmacological and brain stimulation treatments with a focus on early phase IITs and novel trial designs. Transdiagnostic deep phenotyping will help to identify new subtypes of mental disorders and to support body-mind interaction research. A nationwide unique basic science module integrates research on synaptic pathology, novel RNA therapies/epigenetic biomarkers, non-human primates and neuroproteomics to create a translational pipeline within the DZP. Moreover, our strong young scientist international exchange program is supported by two assistant professors (part-time positions USA/Germany), providing sustainable bridges to mental health research at Harvard Medical School and Pittsburgh University.

Figure 1: Modular concept of the DZP-LS: The clinical core element of the DZP-LS is the Comprehensive Mental Health Center – Lower Saxony (CMHC-LS). Within the CMHC-LS, two longitudinal cohorts will be established (follow-up for 20 years). Within the cohorts, a subsample will undergo harmonized deep clinical phenotyping and standardized biomaterial banking, which will also take into account potential hazards imposed by the physico-chemical environment. Deep clinical phenotyping will support the understanding of mind-body interactions and the development of innovative treatments. Within a joint CMHC-LS clinical trial center, phase-1- through-3 studies will be conducted under application of novel clinical study concepts (e.g., adaptive seamless designs) and advanced data analyses (e.g., machine learning). Blended collaborative care interventions will be tested in defined subsamples with physical-mental multimorbidity. Translational and basic science will add novel molecular biomarkers to deep phenotyping, help to understand mind-body interactions and identify innovative treatment targets. The integration and analyses of big data will be facilitated by a strong biomedical and computing infrastructure and machine learning facilities. A coordinating module will structure the DZP-LS work flows. It will be supported by a module for bioethics and patient/public involvement/empowerment, which will reflect on ethical and societal implications of translational mental health research. This module will also allow a direct impact of patient and caregiver perspectives on the research conducted within the CMHC-LS.

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Figure 2: German Health Center for Mental Health-Lower Saxony (DZP-LS)

Legend: Within the DZP-LS, the MHH and UMG will collaborate with 133 hospitals and private practices from all Lower Saxony to establish the Comprehensive Mental Health Center – Lower Saxony (CMHC-LS). The CMHC-LS will provide a strong platform for recruiting a large longitudinal cohort (14-84 years) receiving a basic characterization and two longitudinal transdiagnostic cohorts (14-29 and 50-64 years) with mental disorders or physical illnesses who receive deep clinical phenotyping and will be followed for 20 years. Within the cohorts, interactions of mind, body and the envirome will be studied and phase 1-3 studies embedded in the cohorts will test novel treatments developed in collaboration with our translational and basic science groups. DZHK/DZNE/DZL/DZIF = German Health Centers for Cardiovascular Research/Neurodegenerative Diseases/Lung Diseases/Infection Research. BMB = Biomaterial bank.

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Participating Institutions with Principal Investigators and Cooperating Partners