JARA-BRAIN - Investigating brain deseases

JARA-BRAIN Translationale Hirnforschung

Is it possible to reliably diagnose Alzheimer's dementia at an earlier stage than currently feasible with the aid of magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) or other imaging techniques?

Are there changes in the genotype of patients suffering from schizophrenia which could enable us to predict the individual course of the disease? Scientists from JARA-BRAIN (Translational Brain Medicine) are successfully finding answers to these questions. They are developing new strategies for diagnosing, treating and preventing psychological and neurological diseases.

JARA-BRAIN combines the strengths of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at Forschungszentrum Jülich - the development and application of state-of-the-art devices and interdisciplinary research competence - with the expertise of Aachen University Hospital, which is one of the leading and largest European university hospitals in the fields of psychiatry, neurology and neuropsychology. This cooperation means that basic findings in brain research can be rapidly tested and transferred to routine clinical work. Furthermore, JARA-BRAIN scientists can transfer their findings on the prevention of disease to practical applications faster.

In particular, JARA-BRAIN researchers from 25 hospitals and institutes of RWTH Aachen University and Forschungszentrum Jülich are working on developmental disorders of children and adolescents as typical juvenile illnesses, as well as schizophrenia as a disease of middle age.

They are also focusing on neurodegenerative diseases which mainly affect elderly patients such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and dementia. Due to demographic developments and the related changes in the age pyramid, more and more people will suffer from such diseases in future with disastrous consequences for health care and the social system.

In JARA-BRAIN the entire spectrum of expertise is covered, from basic research right up to clinical applications.

The JARA-BRAIN institutes pool different types of know-how and application in translational brain research thus representing the core competences. The computational neurosciences serve to integrate the findings that have been obtained by interdisciplinary research.

Institute – Brain structure-function relationships – decoding the human brain at systemic levels
Investigating the neural basis of healthy and pathologically altered behaviour as well as potential treatments

Institute – Molecular neuroscience and neuroimaging
Basic molecular principles of health and disease in the neurosciences as well as methodological developments, especially in the field of imaging

Computational Methods
The application of state-of-the-art computer-based methods is a priority topic linking the institutes and represents an indispensable prerequisite for the improved integration of research on the molecular and systemic level. Modelling, visualization, and big data are therefore applied at JARA-BRAIN to obtain an improved understanding of normal and disturbed brain functions.