Research: Overview

Copyright © 2014 • Heiko Grandel • Universitätsklinikum Ulm

The research division investigates the biological consequences of traumatic and chronic stress and their effects on health, including their etiological role in the development of depression. Using innovative methods, we investigate alterations in the immune system, the endocrine system and molecular cell processes resulting from stress and trauma but also psychotherapy. A major area of our research is aimed at premature aging processes caused by traumatic stress and the possible reversibility of these degeneration processes.
Further information can be found here.

Another important research field of our group are risk and resilience factors in the transgenerational transmission of childhood maltreatment. Here we carried out the joint research project “My childhood - your childhood” funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Further information can be found here.

In addition, we investigate gene ⨯ environment interactions in the etiology, symptomatology and therapy of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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Repeated confrontation with extreme traumatic events inevitably leads people to the limits of their psychological resilience. To advance prevention and treatment for trauma patients we investigate biological and psychological processes as well as risk and protective factors for the development of trauma sequel disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression after extreme levels of traumatization.

We therefore systematically investigated psychological, social and (epi-)genetic factors influencing the development and treatment success of PTSD in survivors of the civil war in Uganda. Moreover, we investigated biological correlates of the treatment of traumatic disorders with Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET).
Further information can be found here.

For the long-term health promotion of employees of trauma-exposed professions (such as fire brigade, military, police and medical rescue service) we investigate psychological and biological risk and resilience factors against chronic stress and trauma and develop application-oriented preventive measures in cooperation with the German Red Cross medical emergency service.
Further information can be found here.

Our group investigates the relationships between lifestyle factors such as cognitive, physical and relaxing activities, but also stressors and neurocognitive health by means of neuropsychological examinations, magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalogram, and blood analyses. The investigation of the biological mechanisms of neurocognitive disorders, such as mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s dementia, contributes to the development of an improved early diagnosis of the disease and to a better understanding of the influence of an active and healthy lifestyle on the healthy development and maintenance of the brain in old age.
Further information can be found here.

Unresponsive wakefulness is a condition in which a patient’s eyes are open but cannot respond to a call for a discernible response. The adequate diagnosis of patient’s consciousness state is a major challenge in clinical diagnostics. The aim of our research is to use imaging methods such as EEG to also detect traces of consciousness in patients who, according to clinical evaluations, show only reactionless alertness and thus reduce the risk of misdiagnosis in the medium term.
Further information can be found here.