Prof. Dr. Frank Jessen

Department for Neurology and Psychiatry, University Hospital of Cologne

Frank Jessen

Principal Investigator, Department for Neurology and Psychiatry, University Hospital of Cologne

+49 0 221 478 4010

Kerpener Str. 62

50924 Köln

The Jessen group is engaged in clinical research in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with focus on early disease detection, prevention, and treatment. It runs an interdisciplinary memory center (ZfG) with other Departments of the University Hospital of Cologne. In addition; the group recently set up the first Alzheimer’s prevention registry and center in Germany, which focusses on biomarker based characterization and interventions in cognitively unimpaired individuals at risk. A second new focus of the group is a late life depression (LLD) for which a clinical research infrastructure has been established at the Department of Psychiatry. The group collaborates with epidemiological, brain imaging, biomarker, genetic and basic science research groups and is closely linked to the German Center of Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE).

Our research: Early disease detection is considered critical for successful treatment and prevention of AD. The Jessen group uses clinical and neuropsychological approaches for delineation of the earliest symptoms of the disease, which are validated by biomarkers in longitudinal observational studies. The crosslink with psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety with neurodegeneration is an important research focus of the group. With regard to treatment, the group is working on definitions of target groups for personalized lifestyle based interventions, which aim at preventing cognitive decline in dementia. The group is involved in several clinical trials in AD and related disorders, including leadership in multicenter clinical trials in Germany and Europe. Frank Jessen is an associate of the DZNE where he is responsible for large longitudinal observational studies in at risk subjects (DZNE longitudinal study on cognitional dementia, DELCODE).  The group is collaborating extensively within international networks.

Our successes:  The group of Frank Jessen is pioneering conceptual work on the earliest symptomatic manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease. In several studies and together with an international consensus group, the concept of subjective cognitive decline (SCD) as the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease has been introduced to the field by Frank Jessen and has recently (2018) been integrated in the National Institute of Aging-Alzheimer’s Association (NIA-AA) research criteria of Alzheimer’s disease.  This concept has stimulated numerous grants and research activities worldwide and will guide early intervention trials designs in the future. In addition the group is bridging the gap of neurodegeneration with late life depression (LLD) and was able to create a large psychotherapy clinical trial network on LLD in Germany, which also serves as a platform also for biomarker and neuroimaging studies.

Our goals: The aim of the group is to refine concepts of prevention of Alzheimer’s disease based on the definition of at risk population for lifestyle-based intervention as well as for early molecular treatment, which will eventually allow personalized disease interception very early in the course of AD and prevent dementia. In the field of LLD, the aims of the group are to improve treatment options in this insufficiently recognized condition, to establish the pathophysiological link with neurodegeneration, and to eventually effectively foster healthy brain and mental aging.

Our methods/techniques: The group of Frank Jessen works in a patient-related setting with clinical cohorts as well as epidemiological longitudinal samples. Clinical and neuropsychological methods, including statistical modeling, are applied. Additional resources are neuroimaging including structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) as well as biomaterial sampling for research on body fluid biomarkers and genetics.