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Fri, 19 May


KB730,7/F., Knowles Building, HKU

environMENTAL - Reducing the impact of major environmental challenges on mental health


environMENTAL - Reducing the impact of major environmental challenges on mental health
environMENTAL - Reducing the impact of major environmental challenges on mental health

Time & Location

19 May 2023, 11:00 am – 11:05 am

KB730,7/F., Knowles Building, HKU, Hong Kong, Lung Fu Shan

About the event


environMENTAL is a Horizon Europe-funded project aimed to investigate how some of the greatest global environmental challenges, climate change, urbanisation, and psychosocial stress caused by the Covd19-pandemic affect brain health during the lifespan, and develop interventions aimed at prevention and early intervention. Leveraging federated cohort data of over 1 million European citizens and patients enriched with deep phenotyping data form large scale behavioural neuroimaging cohorts, we will identify brain mechanisms related to environmental adversity underlying symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and substance abuse. To model how complex, real-life exposure to living in the city relates to brain and mental health, and how this is moderated by genetic factors we used data from UK Biobank to investigate the relationships between urban-living environments and psychiatric symptoms and identified different environmental profiles of urban-living that influence specific psychiatric symptom groups through distinct neurocognitive pathways. (Xu et al. Nature Medicine, in press). By linking population and patient data via geo-location to environmental data derived from remote sensing satellite measures (Xu et al. Nature Human Behaviour 2022), climate models as well as digital health applications, our interdisciplinary team will develop a neurocognitive model of multimodal environmental influences defined by transdiagnostic symptom groups of mental illness and their brain correlates. We will uncover the molecular mechanisms underlying this model using multi-modal omics analyses, 3D-brain organoid aggregates and virtual brain simulations. This work will provide an integrated perspective for each individual that incorporates the genetic and environmental influences on brain systems and psychopathology and behaviour, across the lifespan and spectrum of functioning, which we will apply to develop risk biomarkers and stratification markers for different disease mechanisms. Based on the mechanistic knowledge generated, we will then identify compounds targeting causal mechanisms of disease and develop in close collaborations with stakeholders adapted digital health interventions using virtual reality that target symptom clusters defined by shared brain mechanisms. Together, this project will lead to the development of objective biomarkers and evidence-based interventions that will significantly improve outcomes of environmentally-related mental illness.


Prof. Gunter Schumann MD PhD, Distinguished Professor and Director, Centre for Population Neuroscience and Stratified Medicine (PONS) at ISTBI, Fudan University, Shanghai and Charite University Medicine Berlin is an internationally renowned scientist who is shaping and coordinating European and global mental health research on prediction and neurobiological characterisation of mental disorders. In his research programmes he develops and applies population neuroscience and precision medicine in Europe and globally. His innovative approaches have led to the identification of disease mechanisms and biomarkers for prediction and stratification. They have been published in leading journals, including in Nature, Nature Medicine and Science. Professor Schumann conceived and is coordinating the environMENTAL Horizon Europe project aimed at reducing the impact of major environmental challenges on mental health. He also leads the IMAGEN project, a ground breaking imaging genetics study of 18 European partners initially funded by the European Commission, the STRATIFY study, funded by the European Research Council (ERC), and the Indian cVEDA study. He directs the Zhanghjiang International Biobank at ISTBI, Fudan University. He is a recipient of prestigious awards, including an Advanced Grant of the ERC, a Humboldt Prize of the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He received a Chinese National High-end Foreign Expert Award and a NSFC Research Award for International Senior Scientists. He has attracted over 40 million Euro in grant funding.

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