Reducing the impact of major environmental challenges on mental health
environMENTAL is an EU-funded project, studying the impact of climate, pollution, urbanicity, regional socioeconomic conditions, as well as the Covid19 pandemic on brain health, and characterize its underlying biological mechanisms. We will analyse data from more than one million European citizens and patients to uncover brain mechanisms linked to environmental adversity and leading to
symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and substance abuse.
Participate in the project
Digital prevention and early intervention are important targets in non-pharmacological treatment. environMENTAL will pursue two parallel approaches, developing a mental health app and virtual reality interventions to reduce the impact of significant environmental challenges on human well-being.
The environMENTAL seminar series was established to inform our stakeholders about the environMENTAL project targets and to create a platform of active discussion and knowledge exchange.
Challenges and opportunities for drug discovery in mental disorders
There is an undisputed need for better therapies addressing mental illnesses. However, despite major advances in the understanding of the molecular basis of disorders such as depression, anxiety schizophrenia and autism in the past decades, efforts to discover and develop new drugs for neuropsychiatric disorders have remained relatively unsuccessful. The disappointments can be traced to failures in the target identification and target validation effort, as reflected by the poor ability of current cellular and animal models to predict efficacy and side-effects. Here will I discuss how patient-based disease modelling can be implemented in the early drug discovery process as a crucial component in addressing current problems.
Implementation of a patient-derived disease model of Phelan McDermid Syndrome for the identification of SHANK3-specific chemical modifiers
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a heterogeneous group of neurodevelopmental disorders which complicates the identification of an effective therapeutic solution. More than 75 % of people suffering from Phelan McDermid Syndrome (PMS) exhibits ASD symptoms. This rare disease is due to a deletion/alteration in chromosome chromosome 22 (22q13) leading to a haploinsufficiency of SHANK3 expression. SHANK3 encodes a scaffolding protein in the postsynaptic density of excitatory synapses. A reduced expression of SHANK3 leads to an alteration in neuron morphology and synapse connectivity via unknown mechanism.
After the identification of a developmental hyperdifferentiation phenotype in patient-derived iPS cells during the first 6-14 days of differentiation into glutamatergic neurons, a fully automated process was developed allowing us to perform a >7000 molecules screening to reverse hyperdifferentiation. Validation of identified hit compounds was performed in a synaptic imaging assay after 28 days of differentiation. In summary, we performed phenotypic screening using specific pathological hallmarks of a neurodevelopmental disease in patient-derived of cells.
EBRAINS user engagement
Our twin goals:
- the scientific work of the Human Brain Project(HBP)
- the ongoing development of the state-of-the art Research Infrastructure for brain studie: France Nivelle, Chief Communications and Content Officer, EBRAINS
environMENTAL Methodological approaches for MRI data integration biomarker discovery and validation within the environmental project
Moreover, many of these analyses need to be performed in a decentralised and distributed manner. I will give an overview of some of the analytical techniques that we will employ to solve these challenges, including federated machine learning techniques, normative modelling, deep learning, transfer learning and classical penalised multivariate regression techniques. I will illustrate by discussing in detail how such techniques can be applied to neuroimaging data but it should be remembered that they are all more widely applicable.
environMENTAL Making the MOSTest of genetics multivariate approaches to variant discovery and disorder prediction
In this presentation, I will introduce the Multivariate Omnibus Statistical Test (MOSTest), with an efficient computational design enabling rapid and reliable permutation-based inference. I will provide an overview of findings from a series of studies applying MOSTest to data from tens of thousands of individuals from large population cohorts, enabling the discovery of thousands of genetic markers associated with a range of traits. I will further illustrate how the enhanced statistical power achieved through joint analysis of brain and behavioural measures can be leveraged to improve genetics-based prediction of mental disorders in clinical cohorts. As such, these multivariate approaches can significantly contribute to achieving the goals of environMENTAL.
The environMENTAL Team
an interdisciplinary team of excellence
Driving a highly innovative and interdisciplinary approach, the project teams the ideas and expertise of neuroscientists, psychiatrists, geo-scientists, climatologists, psychologists, epidemiologists, anthropologists, computer scientists, experts in digital interventions as well as non-academic stakeholders such as patient associations.
The consortium will be supported by a Stakeholder Board, which will advise on ethical and societal questions to ensure a responsible research and innovation programme.
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Find out about all open positions in the environMENTAL project and join an innovative team of excellence!
2nd General Assembly meeting in Barcelona, Spain
In Barcelona’s inspiring atmosphere, the environMENTAL consortium came together for its 2nd General Assembly meeting with the key topic “Integration”.
Job advertisement – Data Engineer – Charité Berlin
We are looking for a motivated data engineer to join our team at the Centre for Population Neuroscience and Stratified Medicine (PONS) at Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin.
Join the 6th environMENTAL seminar
The environMENTAL consortium is pleased to announce its 6th seminar on data enrichment on 16th December 9 am CET.
1st environMENTAL press release
European research consortium environMENTAL to uncover mechanisms underlying mental illnesses triggered by climate change, urbanisation and COVID-19 pandemic induced psychosocial stress
1st General Assembly and project kick-off in Volterra, Italy
In the inspiring atmosphere of the Palazzo dei Priori, the EU-funded project environMENTAL held its kick-off meeting to initiate its investigations on the influence of global environmental challenges on brain and mental health.