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Comprehensive approaches to neurological and psychiatric disorders – from mechanisms to interventions

NeuroCure aims to find new perspectives in the treatment of neurological diseases.

NeuroCure aims to find new perspectives in the treatment of neurological diseases.
Image Credit: Andreas Horn

The neuroscience Cluster of Excellence NeuroCure at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin has been funded since 2007 within the framework of the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments and can now continue its successful work. Research into neurological and psychiatric disease mechanisms and the transfer of basic scientific findings to clinical application – in short, translation – are at the heart of this interdisciplinary and international consortium. In the future, NeuroCure will focus on projects covering the entire life span – from embryonic development to aging – and establish new innovative modules that accelerate the translational process.

NeuroCure is based at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the joint medical school of Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and cooperates closely with several non-university research institutions including the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE), the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC). Cooperation with the two translational research centers, the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), also is to be expanded further.

“With our research, we want to identify overarching mechanisms.” Dietmar Schmitz

“Our goal is to transfer insights, to an even greater extent than before, from basic neuroscience research to clinical application and to develop new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches for patients,” says Prof. Dietmar Schmitz, Director of the Neuroscience Research Center at Charité and spokesperson for the Cluster.

NeuroCure’s research approaches range from molecular and imaging methods to behavioral and neuropsychological studies. The focus is on developmental disorders as well as on diseases of the nervous system such as Parkinson's, stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsie, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and various psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, addiction, and depression. “With our research, we want to identify overarching mechanisms in the development and progression of neurological and psychiatric diseases, rather than focusing solely on a specific disease of the central nervous system. Our interdisciplinary cooperation plays a key role in being able to develop promising therapies,” explains Dietmar Schmitz. Specialized know-how and state-of-the-art equipment are provided in core facilities to support the neuroscientists in their research.

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schmitz (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin) is the spokesperson for the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence.

Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schmitz (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin) is the spokesperson for the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence.
Image Credit: Pablo Castagnola

To promote clinical research, the NeuroCure Clinical Research Center will be expanded to include the BrainLab module. In close cooperation with the clinical areas of neurosurgery and the neurological intensive care unit, treatment options will be developed, in particular, for acute and hyperacute diseases. This will enable even more comprehensive research into a wide variety of neurological diseases.

The mentoring program SPARK-Berlin seeks to accelerate the transfer of research results into clinically relevant drugs and diagnostics.

The VOS (Value and Open Science) module aims to improve the predictability and reproducibility of research and to provide free access to the results of scientific work.

“It is through the creation of these new structural modules, the closer interlinking of ongoing research activities, and the recruitment of excellent young researchers that Berlin will continue to develop and strengthen as a neuroscience research location,” says Dietmar Schmitz.

Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schmitz (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin) Applicant universities: Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin are parent universities of the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. Involved institutions:
  • Helmholtz Gemeinschaft (Deutschen Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen/DZNE, Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin/MDC)
  • Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP)
  • Max-Planck Gesellschaft (MPIIB)
Cooperation partners:
  • Berliner Institut für Gesundheitsforschung/Berlin Institute of Health (BIH)
  • Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE)
  • Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung (MPIB)