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.

Kerstin Klook received PhD


Kerstin Klook held her defense on the 19th of March and received her PhD with magna cum laude. Kerstin is the first stipend holder from the second cohort, who graduated within the IRTG.

The title of her dissertation was “Structural and functional determinants of synaptic transmission and plasticity at layer 4 synapses in the neocortex”.

We congratulate Kerstin on this great success and wish her all the best for her future. We are especially proud of Kerstin, since she completed her demanding thesis in a very short time. Kerstin has already commenced her new position as Executive Assistant to the Board of Directors at the Research Center Jülich.

Martin Klasen received PhD


Martin Klasen, associated student in the IRTG, held his oral defense on 19th of January and received his PhD with summa cum laude!

The title of his dissertation was: "Virtuelle Realität als Stimulusmaterial in den sozialen Neurowissenschaften" (Virtual reality as stimulus material in social neuroscience).

We congratulate Martin on this great success and wish him all the best for his future. Martin has already commenced his new position as a postdoc in the group of Prof. Klaus Mathiak in Aachen and will continue his work on simulated aggression in violent video games.

Lisa Schock received PhD


Lisa Schock, associated student in the IRTG, held her oral defense on 15th of December and received her PhD with magna cum laude!

The title of her dissertation was: "Alertness and visuospatial attention in clinical depression"

We congratulate Lisa on this success and wish her all the best for her future.


IRTG Symposium on DGPPN conference


During the DGPPN conference in Berlin this year, Prof. Ute Habel, speaker of the IRTG, RWTH Aachen University and Prof. Ted Abel, member of the IRTG managing board, University of Pennsylvania, gave overviews on the german and american perspective on the work of the IRTG 1328 over the past five years.

The IRTG symposium was organized on the DGPPN conference, which is the largest conference in its field in Europe. This year over 9000 participants enjoyed the rich scientific and clinical program.

The talks of Prof. Habel and Prof. Abel can be downloaded from this website.

slides Prof. Ute Habel

slides Prof. Ted Abel

DFG-research stipend for Dr. Janina Seubert


Dr. Janina Seubert, alumni of the IRTG under supervision of Ute Habel and Ruben Gur received a research stipend from the German Research Foundation (DFG). During her time in the IRTG she studied olfactory-cognitive interactions in schizophrenia.
Janina Seubert will work on the topic of the neurobiology of affective judgement in schizophrenia patients by using olfactory stimulation. The research stipend covers a 24 month stay at the labs of Bruce Turetsky, University of Pennsylvania and Johan Lundström, Monell Chemical Senses Center.

US undergraduates in Germany


As in the previous years, the IRTG 1328 offers funded research internships for undergraduate students in the summer of 2012. Three projects of PhD students from the IRTG are offered to US undergraduates, who will conduct their own experiments from planning to publication under supervision of IRTG student supervisors and professors.

The research internships are offered within the framework of RISE (Research Internships in Science and Engineering), offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD), and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP), offered by the RWTH Aachen University.

Both programs have databases in which US undergraduates can search for interesting projects. We are looking forward to many excellent applicants and are eager to offer US undergraduates an exciting research experience.


Page 8 of 29