The "Gutenberg Brain Study" (GBS) is a platform project of the German Resilience Center (Deutsches Resilienz Zentrum, DRZ). The GBS is in the process of establishing a population-based sample of 5,000 subjects from Mainz and the surrounding area in order to address important questions in neuroscience and is intended to strengthen the translational activities of the DRZ regarding human experimentation. Test subjects of this population-based sample were genotyped according to socio-demographic parameters, environmental variables and, depending on the genotype or gene-environment combination, studied further in satellite projects with regard to brain structure and function.
The overall research theme of this platform – and the various satellite projects enabled by the GBS – is the explanation of molecular aspects of brain structure and function in keeping with the research focus of DRZ (developmental and experience-dependent plasticity, neurodegeneration, regeneration and interactions between the immune and nervous system). In addition to the study of the normal brain, principles, in particular those that enable the human brain to respond to environmental influences (e.g. stress) in order to preserve function and structural integrity, will be explained. In a population-based sample, for example in the form of so-called "single nucleotide polymorphisms" (SNPs) or "copy number variants" (CNVs), naturally occurring genetic variability or diversity should be used to define genetically-defined subject groups on the basis of functionally relevant variants being evaluated for differences in brain function and structure.
In this sense, variants with a strong neurobiological, well-founded hypothesis should serve as a "genetic probe" to investigate the interaction of molecular aspects of brain function and structure with environmental factors. In this way, basic molecular and cellular research can be combined with the system level of the human brain. The GBS thereby closes an important gap in Translational brain research. Two characteristics of the GBS are important in this context: First, "population-based" ensures the generalizability of the results, and second, a large sample size enables the investigation of rarer variants specifically.
The GBS is located in the Department of Neurology and is led by Prof. Dr. med. Oliver Tüscher.