The International Research Training Group “Brain-behavior relationship of emotion and social cognition in schizophrenia and autism” (IRTG 1328) is formed by German and American scientists of the RWTH Aachen University with the University Hospital Aachen, the Research Center Jülich (all within the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance, JARA) and the University of Pennsylvania and is funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; DFG). The major aims of the German-American IRTG are interdisciplinary and international scientific co-operation and the support of young scientists with aspiration to cutting-edge research. Three basic principles shape the profile of the IRTG: excellence, innovation and international co-operation. To make allowance for the various aspects of the complex clinical disorders of schizophrenia and autism, scientists from a widespread area of disciplines are involved, including medicine, psychology, biology, physics and computer science, among them some of the world’s leading experts in the respective fields. The excellence of faculty and trainees and the international character of the enterprise combine to provide a uniquely inspiring research environment. The IRTG offers a study program that structures an internationally collaborative doctoral process under joint mentorship of a German and an American supervisor. The participants of the IRTG apply advanced brain imaging techniques, including structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI and fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetoencephalography (MEG), computational modeling of brain dysfunction, receptor distribution and microstructural, architectonic brain mapping, to study the neurobiological basis of emotion processing in schizophrenia and autism.

The IRTG 1328 represents the only structured doctoral program in Germany that is explicitly focused to the neural basis of two clinically and socio-economically highly relevant psychiatric disorders, schizophrenia and autism.

IRTG workshop: Application of high-field MR in psychiatry

On 4-5 December, Professor Ewald Moser and Dr. Birgit Derntl (Medical University Vienna) gave a workshop on the application of high-field MR in psychiatry for the students of the IRTG 1328. The workshop included physical basis of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, the physiological principles of the BOLD response and functional imaging, as well as experimental designs and data analysis tools in fMRI. These topics concern the PhD theses of most IRTG students.

DAAD Information Tour 2006, December 3-9

Science in Germany : New Developments in Higher Education, Interdisciplinary cooperation and industrial application

As part of this DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) event, 20 north American professors from leading research institutions visited the IRTG at the RWTH University Hospital on Tuesday 5th December. Professor Frank Schneider gave a presentation regarding this international collaboration between Aachen and Pennsylvania. The professors then spoke with the IRTG students over coffee.


DAAD 2006 DAAD 2006

IRTG Winter School 2006

The first IRTG winter school occurred on Nov 11-14 in Aachen and Jülich. This winter school marked the first official meeting of our joint International Research Training Group (IRTG) "Brain-behavior relationship of normal and disturbed emotions in schizophrenia and autism.” Thirteen American professors, one post-doc and three graduate students came from the University of Pennsylvania, along with one Israeli Professor from the Technion in Haifa, joined by the German IRTG professors and students. The conference aimed to delineate and shape the student research projects within the IRTG as well as providing a possibility for all involved people to further get to know each other personally. The American and German supervisors were able to meet both with each and the students whom they will be supervising. Similarly, the students were able to meet and discuss their projects with the relevant American professors.

The conference was divided into 8 overall sessions, each dedicated to a specific topic addressed in the IRTG, with two daily sessions. Each of these sessions was comprised of several professorial presentations followed by several student presentations. The students succinctly explained what their proposed thesis project was and how they thought they would implement the research. Then the proposed paradigms were openly discussed by all winter school attendees and suggestions made regarding how the paradigms could be improved and slightly changed in light of the feedback.

The first 3 days were held in the Guesthouse of the RWTH Aachen, whilst the final day was held at the Research Centre in Jülich. Aside from the rigors of the stimulating conference schedule by day, social events occurred in the evenings. These included a guided city tour of Aachen, a Mozart concert, a visit to the Ludwig Forum and the sampling of local and other European cuisine in various restaurants.This winter school was agreed by all to have been a great success. Knowledge was shared, frie ndships and working collaborations affirmed and students PhD projects shaped and finalised, in a friendly and congenial atmosphere. Everyone is looking forward to the next winter school which, symmetrically, will be held over in Pennsylvania next winter.

Please find the program here.


Winter School 2006 Winter School 2006

Winter School 2006 Winter School 2006

IRTG Inaugural Ceremony

The inaugural ceremony occurred on the evening of Monday November 13 in the University Hospital Aachen. The ceremony was opened by Professor Frank Schneider, the Aachen speaker of the IRTG, University Hospital Aachen. Amongst the many invited distinguished speakers was the new DFG president elect, Professor Matthias Kleiner, who spoke about the role of the DFG in funding such prestigious joint ventures, such as the IRTG between different research centres, and gave his best wishes for the success of this European and American collaborative research partnership. The other invited speakers were Professor Karl Zilles (Director of the Institute for Neurosciences and Biophysics, Research Center Jülich), Ministerialdirigentin Dr. Waltraud Kreutz-Gers (Ministry of Science and Research, North Rhine-Westphalia), Professor Burkard Rauhut (Rector of the RWTH Aachen University), Professor Johannes Noth (Dean of the School of Medicine, RWTH Aachen University), Professor Henning Saß (Medical Director of the University Hospital Aachen), Professor Klaus Mathiak (Coordinator of the IRTG, University Hospital Aachen) and Gregor Kohls (Student speaker of the IRTG, University Hospital Aachen).

The Keynote lecture Brain-behavior relationship of normal and disturbed emotions in schizophrenia and autism was given by Professor Ruben Gur, Speaker of the IRTG, University of Pennsylvania. This was an hour detailing the fascinating work conducted by Professor Gur in his Philadelphia laboratories in over 3 decades of cutting edge research into emotion processing.

Please find the program here.

IRTG Inauguration Ceremony IRTG Inauguration Ceremony

IRTG Inauguration CeremonyIRTG Inauguration Ceremony

Comparing Doctoral Training in Europe and North America

Professor Dr. Dr. Frank Schneider and Professor Dr. Ruben Gur gave a presentation about the IRTG 1328 within the international workshop Form Follows Function - Comparing Doctoral Training in Europe and North America. The workshop took place at the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe University Frankfurt (Main), Germany, from 9 to 10 November 2006 and was organized by the German Rector´s Conference (HRK) and UNESCO-CEPES, the European Institute for Higher Education of UNESCO. During this meeting 30 prominent international experts presented and discussed recent issues related to the general topic of the workshop.

Please find the conclusions of Dr. Ulrich Schreiterer (Yale University), General Rapporteur, here.

Please find the presentation of Prof. Dr. Dr. F. Schneider and Prof. Dr. R.C. Gur, Speakers of the IRTG, here.

Poster Award of the Robert Sommer Symposium 2006 for Student of IRTG 1328

he Robert Sommer Symposium 2006, initiated and organized by the Centre for Psychiatry at Justus Liebig University School of Medicine, Gießen (Germany) took place on November 3 and 4. It was entitled Functional Genetics in Schizophrenia: The Way to the Future? and included various talks of leading experts, as well as poster presentation sessions and the bestowal of the Robert Sommer Award Medal, won this year by Professor Lynn DeLisi of the Nathan Kline Institute (New York University). The Symposium was dedicated to the memory of Robert Sommer, who established the Centre for Psychiatry in Gießen in 1896 and was one of the leading spirits in psychiatry and psychology of his time, being the founder of the first Society for Experimental Psychology worldwide. The three poster sessions were entitled Genetics and Neuroanatomy, Cognition, and Motivation and Emotion, each session including nine presentations. The best poster of each session was given an award on the second symposium day in Arnsburg Monastery. The poster of Benjamin Straube, student of IRTG 1328, was awarded in the Cognition session. The poster`s topic was Neuronal Interaction of Gesture and Language Interaction: Preliminary Results. The co-authors were the Aachen colleagues Antonia Green, Dr. Susanne Weis, Professor Klaus Willmes-v. Hinckeldey, Professor Kerstin Konrad, and Professor Tilo Kircher.


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