After the German Research Society (DFG) had initiated the establishment of the Clinical Research Group 241 (KFO 241) starting in January 2012, KFO 241 featured a multidisciplinary panel of both clinical and basic science researchers, closely working together toward the common goal of unraveling key factors determining the disease course in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. For both diseases, course and outcome are of utmost importance and clinical relevance as they determine the individual and societal burden of these disorders. Yet, a thorough incorporation of course into research strategies remains a scarcity in psychiatric research, in particular biological research. Most achievements in this field over the last decades have been based on cross-sectional approaches. The recent successes in psychiatric genetics or imaging genetics can be attributed to collaborative strategies employing harmonized approaches and large sample sizes. The research mission of the KFO 241 has been fueled by the desire to bring these hallmarks of success to the research of course and outcome in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to foster a more complete understanding of these disorders.
Over the last years, the research groups have been addressing this scientific goal from various angles and have managed to create a unique environment ideally suited to tackle this widely neglected topic. The research environment is characterized by novel IT-infrastructural solutions for the recruitment of patients and control individuals, multisite phenotyping, sophisticated biobanking and the protection of sensitive personal data.
PsyCourse now continues this successful work as a two-site consortium with a number of researchers formerly not involved, which bring additional expertise and hail from leading institutions in their respective fields. Furthermore, PsyCourse extends the phenotypic spectrum by also including major depressive disorder due to an increasing body of evidence of shared etiological mechanisms across these three disorders.