An International Research Training Group is a sophisticated collaborative research program between two or more universities, in our case the Universities of Tübingen (Germany) and Uppsala University (Sweden). Besides offering the opportunity to conduct research in highly relevant topics and being united in a group with other doctoral researchers, the internationality and dedicated training program are the unique aspects that make an IRTG stand out among other research programs.

Internationality is expressed in the close collaboration between universities (in different countries) that specialize in complementary areas of research. This allows for a much broader perspective and learning opportunity, as each doctoral researcher will have a German and a Swedish supervisor and the opportunity to spend 6 months at the cooperating university. These features naturally promote the establishment of a professional network which forms the basis of a successful scientific career as well as scientific practice in general.

The dedicated training program, aims at qualifying the candidates for independent scientific work and providing a substantial overview of their field of research, including intersections with adjacent areas. To achieve this, our IRTG offers various lectures, seminars and conferences on both methodological and research topics. Of course, the joint supervision is also an exceptional and important feature of our educational mandate.

Research objectives

This IRTG strives to enhance interdisciplinary research and education on a topic of high clinical and societal relevance: women’s mental health across the reproductive years. Women undergo hormonal transitions several times throughout their lives that can impact brain plasticity and their cognitive and emotional processes, thus ultimately influencing mental health. During these transition phases (puberty, pregnancy and menopause), the risk of mental illness increases dramatically, especially with regard to affective, anxiety and stress-related disorders.
Within our IRTG we aim to better understand the associations between hormonal transition phases and women’s mental health by addressing specific hypotheses in the context of sex hormone variation.

We will emphasize on negative and positive valence as many mental disorders are characterized by the so-called emotional bias, that is high levels of negative emotion and/or loss of positive emotional experience. To do so, we will orient all projects along a translational approach to human behavior and (afflicted) mental health. This will enable us to target specific (neuro)biological processes underlying psychopathology in the realm of negative (stress reactivity) and positive valence (reward), and to cover different system levels (from behavior to brain plasticity). Our long-term perspective is to improve prevention, detection and treatment of mental disorders in women.