LifespanHealth: A lifespan perspective on mental illness - toward precision medicine using multimodal brain imaging and genetics

PI: Kaufmann, Location: University of Oslo, Funding: Research Council of Norway (~850k €)

Severe mental illness (SMI) accounts for about one third of all years lived-with-disabilities world-wide, with large unmet patient needs and substantial socio-economical costs. Improving our understanding of the pathophysiology of SMI is key in their treatment and prevention. Over the past decades, it has become increasingly clear that most SMIs originate in neurodevelopment and that the pathophysiology later in life may accelerate the ageing of the brain, yet these tremendous lifespan changes in the brain are largely understudied and the mechanisms remain elusive.

The LifespanHealth project thus targets a lifespan perspective on SMI from delayed neurodevelopment to accelerated ageing. We aim at the discovery of biomarkers for early detection and prevention and at improving our understanding of the pathophysiology over the course of the illness, to allow for personalized treatment, prognosis and long-term care.

The project PI has extensive experience in multivariate statistical analysis of brain imaging data and has formed an excellent, multidisciplinary team of researchers with access to the largest brain imaging genetics cohorts available to date. We will explore this rich set of data using novel biostatistical tools. Discovered biomarkers will be incorporated into multivariate statistical prediction models targeting biology-informed diagnosis scores, usable as an additional information channel for health care professionals. The unique data set, bundled expertise and truly interdisciplinary efforts of LifespanHealth yield an unprecedented opportunity to bridge the gap between neuroscientific core research and clinical utility. LifespanHealth therefore maps well into the global efforts toward predictive clinical methods in translational psychiatry, integrating multimodal estimates of brain structure and function, their genetic underpinnings and environmental factors into a novel precision medicine utility.