Kick-off event DZPG, Munich - Augsburg

On 30 June, professionals, affected persons and relatives met on the topic of "Mental Health" in the St. Vincent House of the LMU Hospital to open the new German Centre for Mental Health (DZPG) at the Munich-Augsburg location.

The aim of the DZPG is to conduct interdisciplinary research into the development and course of mental illness across the lifespan. In Munich-Augsburg, five scientific institutes (LMU Klinikum, Klinikum rechts der Isar of the Technical University of Munich, University of Augsburg, Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry and Helmholtz Zentrum München) will work on earlier, personalised and preventive treatment of mental illness - for the benefit of patients in Germany and worldwide.

With a video greeting by Klaus Holetschek, Bavarian State Minister for Health and Care, presentations by the heads of the respective institutes and a forum with input from the press, politicians, patients and other German Centres for Health, the afternoon passed quickly. Now the real work begins, with the hope that new treatment options for those affected will quickly emerge that will fundamentally change the course of mental illness.




Development of evidence-based transdiagnostic primary care for people with mental illness in primary care.

More than one third of all people in Germany develop a mental illness in the course of their lives. The first point of contact is usually the general practitioner (GP). With an average time window of 7 minutes per patient, it is difficult to make an accurate diagnosis and provide adequate treatment. The transdiagnostic approach, which is not diagnosis-oriented but symptom-oriented and offers cross-disease therapy approaches, can help here. Building on this, the STARC (STructured, first-Aid geneRic, psychologiCal interventions) project, funded by the German Centre for Mental Health (DZPG), aims to develop and evaluate a transdiagnostic intervention for the GP setting.

The project is part of the German Centre for Mental Health (DZPG) funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which aims to conduct comprehensive research into the development and course of mental and somatic illnesses across the lifespan. The funding for the Munich site started in early summer 2023, consisting of the hospital of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich, the Rechts der Isar Hospital of the Technical University Munich (TUM), the University of Augsburg, the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry and the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

Dr. Kirsten Lochbühler



Nationwide network on mental health starts

From May 2023, the German Centre for Mental Health (DZPG) will start its research work with Munich as one of six locations.

The German Centre for Mental Health (DZPG), funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), consists of six excellent research locations in Munich (with Augsburg), Berlin (with Potsdam), Bochum (with Marburg), Halle (with Jena and Magdeburg), Mannheim (with Heidelberg and Ulm) and Tübingen. The aim of the new centre is interdisciplinary research into the development and course of mental illnesses over the life span.

The focus is on identifying and treating people at risk so that mental illnesses do not develop or take a chronic course. In particular, the contribution of life circumstances including traumatic experiences in childhood will be investigated, and new therapeutic approaches will be developed and integrated into care.

Since research has identified numerous environmental factors as relevant in addition to biological and neuroimmunological causes, the DZPG wants to use these findings to develop targeted interventions and implement them in everyday life. To this end, the DZPG will establish distributed infrastructures for research, e.g. in the digital collection of health data in the living environment and for innovative therapy procedures with diverse bio-psycho-social approaches.

To this end, clinicians and researchers work together on an equal footing with experts with experience (people affected by mental illness). In particular, the DZPG will also involve representatives of young scientists in its management in order to ensure its further development and competitiveness in the long term.

Excellent network at the Munich-Augsburg location

The Munich site, which will begin active collaborative research in May 2023, consists of a network of various clinics and institutes of the LMU Hospital, the Department of Psychology of the LMU, the Technical University of Munich and the Klinikum rechts der Isar, the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry Munich, the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the University of Augsburg. The funding of the DZPG begins with a start-up phase in which joint projects on the early detection and intervention of mental illnesses in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood as well as new basic scientific model systems are already being developed and evaluated with the participatory involvement of experts from experience.

Following an international two-stage selection and evaluation process, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has funded four health research centres at a total of 80 locations since 2011, namely the Centre for Infectious Diseases (DZIF), the Centre for Cardiovascular Diseases (DZHK), the Centre for Lung Diseases (DZL) and the Centre for Cancer Research (DKTK). The Centres for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and Diabetes Research (DZD) have been in existence since 2009. The Munich site is involved in all six established German Centres for Health Research.




Improving mental health through precision and prevention

Munich research cooperation becomes part of the new German Center for Mental HealthAn interdisciplinary group of researchers from the LMU Hospital, the Hospitalof the Technical University of Munich, the University of Augsburg, the MaxPlanck Institute of Psychiatry and Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen will worktogether on earlier, personalized and preventive treatment of mental illness aspart of the new German Center for Mental Health, benefitting patients inGermany and worldwide.

When the Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek announced at a speciallyscheduled press conference on March 10th that the PriMe (Precision inMental Health) research network (consisting of the LMU Hospital, theTechnical University of Munich, the University of Augsburg, the Max PlanckInstitute of Psychiatry and Helmholtz Zentrum) had been made part of thenew German Center for Mental Health, there was great joy among allresearchers involved.

However, there is also a great awareness of the tasks lying ahead of them:Due to their prevalence, early onset and still unfavorable courses, mentalillnesses are among the most widespread disorders with an ever-growingburden of disease both in Germany and worldwide. For example, 75 percentof mental illnesses first occur before the age of 25, thus often denying thoseaffected the opportunity to realize a productive and successful life.Research has led to an improved understanding of the complex interactionsbetween genes, environment and the brain that underlie mental illness.However, this knowledge has not yet been translated into improveddiagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic methods: Not only was there a lackof technology to understand this complexity in individual patients butadditionally, people focused on individual aspects of mental illness thuslosing sight of the bigger picture. In addition, there was a lack of structureallowing new procedures to be tested in hospital-based settings, hinderingan approach that covers patients in all phases of illness equally.Gemeinsam. Fürsorglich. Wegweisend.

"The New German Center for Mental Health addresses these weaknesses,"says Prof. Peter Falkai, Director of the Department of Psychiatry andPsychotherapy and coordinator of PriMe. "Centers that havecomplementary strengths were selected and therefore cover the entirespectrum of mental illnesses as well as having cutting-edge research tools.In the PriMe network, we are particularly interested in the development ofmore precise methods for diagnosis and prognosis in conjunction with amore precise selection and further development of therapeutic proceduresthrough multi-center clinical studies. In particular, methods of artificialintelligence as well as basic science model systems will be intertwined inorder to better understand the mechanisms of disease development,maintenance and resilience - especially in patients with psychotic andaffective disorders. We expect that at the German Center for Mental Health,this better understanding will rapidly lead to new treatment options foraffected patients that will fundamentally change the course of mentalillness."

The selected sites will now enter a network phase in which the jointresearch program will be prepared. According to the BMBF, the starting datefor the German Center for Mental Health is January 2022.

LMU University Hospital MunichWith its two locations in Munich, the Grosshadern campus and the campus in the city center,the LMU University Hospital is one of the largest university hospitals in Germany and Europe.Every year, around 500,000 patients trust the competence, care and commitment of ouremployees in 29 specialized clinics, thirteen institutes and seven departments as well as the50 interdisciplinary centers.

Outstanding facilities of the LMU University Hospital include the oncological center CCC M,Bavaria’s largest transplant center TxM, the German Vertigo and Balance Center, the Institutefor Tropical Medicine and the Center for International Health (CIH). In addition, the LMU Uni-versity Hospital is represented in all German centers of health research and in the DIFUTUREconsortium as part of the medical informatics initiative of the Federal Ministry of MedicalResearch.

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