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Translational mental health strategy

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Research cohorts at site

Currently, five cohorts are (partly) located in Hamburg with participation of PIs from the MHTRN-Hamburg:


The Hamburg City Health Study was started in 2015, and is conducted by more than 30 UKE departments, gathering data of citizens aged 45-74 (total expected N = 45.000). Although the focus is on common physical diseases (e.g. dementia, heart desease, cancer), psychosocial as well as care-related assessments are an integral part of the study, in addition to a broad range of predictors (e.g. biological, genetic, lifestyle, environmental, immunological factors, subsample with brain MRI N>8.000). MHTRN members J. Gallinat, S. Kühn, C. Büchel, O. von dem Knesebeck, B. Löwe, P. Briken and M. Härter have analysed or contributed to HCHS data. Yearly follow-up assessments are planned and already realized.


The Prenatal Identification of Children’s Health cohort is a prospective longitudinal pregnancy cohort study launched in 2011 and embedded in the Clinical Research Unit 296 ‘Feto, maternal immune cross talk’. In this study, immunological trajectories of mothers and their children are investigated. Since its beginning, more than 750 pregnant women have been enrolled into the PRINCE study during the first trimester. To date, about 270 of the children have reached the age of 5 years and completed an on-site visit. Early childhood factors have been recorded for these children based on early questionnaires. The rich data set and biobank material includes: prenatal ultrasound, maternal venous blood samples, information on pregnancy progression, health status, maternal psychometric and anthropometric data, anthropometric indices of the newborn cord blood samples, information on the living environment, health status, blood samples. More recently, the PRINCE study has been amended by neurocognitive testing and MRI scans of the children’s brain at the age of 9 years. The long-term goal is to utilize this data to identify early (prenatal and postnatal) risk factors of mental health problems.


The National Cohort, funded by the Federal States, the Government and the Helmholtz-Society, was launched in 2014 and aims to assess 200.000 participants (aged 20-69 years) in total across 18 study centres in Germany, including one in Hamburg. It aims at identifying predictors of common physical health problems. NAKO imaging data are used by S. Kühn, C. Büchel, and J. Gallinat to study relevant factors related to mental health related brain structure and function.


IMAGEN is an European project that involves researchers from London, Nottingham, Dublin, Paris, Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, and Mannheim. It aims for early characterization of risk factors in adolescents for later mental illness, focusing on emotion regulation, reward sensitivity, and impulsivity. Structural and functional as well as genetic, psychological and survey-data of N > 2.500 individuals is gathered across multiple timepoints (at 14, 16, 19, 22 years of age). C. Büchel, S. Kühn and J. Gallinat are PIs in IMAGEN which has already resulted in multiple joint publications and continues to be a rich resource for further analyses in search of predictors of mental health developmental trajectories during adolescence and early adulthood.



The prospective longitudinal BELLA cohort led by U. Ravens-Sieberer focuses on mental health of children and adolescents in Germany and is conducted nationwide in close cooperation with the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) since 2003. The baseline data collection was completed between 2003 and 2006 (N = 3000 children and adolescents aged 7-17 years) and continued longitudinally at four measurement points (1-, 2-, 6-, and 11-year follow-up). The BELLA cohort provides representative cross-sectional and longitudinal data on mental health and well-being from childhood into adulthood. In cooperation with the RKI, data on mental health in children has been analyzed to provide recommendations for policy to the German Ministry of Health. Self-report assessment methods have been developed in cooperation with the RKI to improve the transition and interpretation of instruments across age groups.