News of the Research Unit SOMACROSS

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Presentation of the SOMACROSS research Unit at the DKPM 2024 in Berlin

The SOMACROSS research group was again represented at this year's congress of the German College for Psychosomatic Medicine (DKPM) from March 13th to 15th, 2024. This year, Max Reinke presented the results of a focus group study as part of the SOMACROSS-associated project SOMA.COV. Additionally, scientists from various other SOMACROSS projects seized the chance to showcase their work, engage in discussions on contemporary scientific discoveries, and foster connections within the scientific community.

SOMACROSS-Research Retreat 2023

Between August 30 - September 1, 2023, the second research retreat of our Research Unit SOMACROSS took place in the beautiful Alt Duvenstedt (with a nice view on the lake!).
The retreat was a perfect opportunity to foster the network of the Research Unit, to celebrate the milestones of the first two years and to discuss further progress. In addition, we offered a workshop on career development and gender equality in science for our early career researchers

With Blake Dear and Rona Moss-Morris, we also had inspiring speakers, from whom we learned about transdiagnostic eHealth interventions for chronic diseases and psychological interventions for gastrointestinal diseases.

As in the previous year, the early career researchers had the opportunity to apply for mini grants and thus raise funding for their own research ideas. This year’s award winners are Luisa Peters (SOMA.GUT) and Laura Buck (SOMA.LIV), as well as Stefanie Hahn (SOMA.SSD), Rieke Barbek (SOMA.SOC) and Philipp Weber (SOMA.STATS) . Congratulations! The mini grants were awarded on behalf of the Advisory Board by Judith Rosmalen (Groningen) and our Mercator Fellow Omer van den Bergh (Leuven).

We are already looking forward to our next research retreat in the following year!

Birte Jessen - Psychotherapy Congress 2023

Presentation of the Research Unit SOMACROSS at the DKPM and the Psychotherapy Congress 2023 in Berlin

The Research Unit SOMACROSS was again represented at this year's congress of the German College of Psychosomatic Medicine (DKPM) and the German Society for Psychosomatic Medicine and Medical Psychotherapy (DGPM) from May 3-5, 2023. This year, three lectures from the SOMA.LIV project on autoimmune liver diseases were presented by Caroline Lösken, Laura Buck and Nele Hasenbank. In addition, the new SOMACROSS-associated project SOMA.COV on Long COVID was introduced with a poster by Dr. Petra Engelmann.

At the German Psychotherapy Congress from May 10 - 13, 2023, Birte Jessen from the subproject SOMA.CK presented a poster on their experimental study part.

Start of the SOMA.COV project

With the completion of the project team, the SOMA.COV project, associated with the Research Unit SOMACROSS, started on April, 1st, 2023. We are pleased to welcome Clara Stein and Max Reinke as new researchers to the team.
The aim of SOMA.COV is to investigate whether symptoms of Long COVID can be improved by modifying illness-related anxiety and dysfunctional symptom expectations.
Furthermore, additional psychosocial risk factors for the persistence of somatic symptoms in Long COVID will be identified and compared with those identified in the Research Unit SOMACROSS. Besides a better understanding of symptom persistence, the project will provide relevant insights into the mechanisms of action of an expectation management intervention in patients with Long COVID. Recruitment in the SOMA.COV project is planned to start in August 2023.

We are excited and highly motivated to start the project and look forward to working together with the Research Unit SOMACROSS!


Girls´ & Boys´ Day 2023

At this year's Girls' & Boys' Day on April 27, the Research Unit SOMACROSS had the pleasure of welcoming students from grade 8 to 10 to the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy for the first time.

Together with engaged colleagues, the participants were introduced to the diverse fields of psychosomatic medicine. They were able to ask questions regarding clinical practice, teaching or research, especially about SOMACROSS, or simply about our experiences and career opportunities. To show the students what psychosomatic medicine is, they were able to experience the interaction of body and mind by doing small experiments.

For us, the day was a complete success and an exciting challenge to present our work in a way that is appropriate for a new target group. We are already looking forward to being able to offer students an exciting program again next year.

Presentation of the Research Unit SOMACROSS at the EURONET-SOMA meeting 2023 in Budapest

At the beginning of March 2023, we had the opportunity to present our Research Unit SOMACROSS at the EURONET-SOMA meeting in Budapest. We enjoyed the positive feedback on our research, the lively discussions and kind encounters.
EURONET-SOMA is a European expert network of clinicians and researchers. It aims to improve research, treatment, communication, and collaboration on persistent somatic symptoms across scientific disciplines and medical settings ( EURONET-SOMA ). One major achievement developed within EURONET-SOMA, is the international training network ETUDE. ETUDE allows 15 early stage researchers to investigate functional disorders while at the same time undergoing a thorough scientific training in several European countries ( ETUDE ).

First publication based on data from the Research Unit SOMACROSS

The first publication based on data from our Research Unit SOMACROSS has been published in the open access journal BMC Gastroenterology: “Understanding illness experiences of patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis: a qualitative analysis within the SOMA.LIV study” ( Link ). The study is part of the SOMACROSS project SOMA.LIV, investigating the autoimmune liver diesases primary biliary cholangitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis (lead by Dr. Anne Toussaint and Prof Christoph Schramm).

To explore the lived experience of patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), our medical PhD-candidate Caroline Lösken conducted interviews with 20 patients. The qualitative analysis was accompanied by intense discussion within the interdisciplinary research team. The central emerging theme was a “wave-like” experience in dealing with the illness. Patients struggled with the ‘invisible presence’ of the PSC as a seemingly hidden illness that periodically reveals itself through specific trigger events. They developed a multitude of coping strategies, while still experiencing regular setbacks. Confronted with the constraints of the illness on their lives and the uncertainty regarding its course, the interviewees expressed their desire to gain a sense of control. Based on these insights, the paper concludes with recommendations for PSC health care and further research.

We would like to thank all patients who allowed us to further understand their illness experiences and congratulate Caroline Lösken on her first authorship of this important paper!

SOMACROSS Research Retreat 2022

From November 16 - 18, 2022, the first Research Retreat of the RU FOR 5211 took place in Reinstorf near Lüneburg. This event was an opportunity to network within the Research Unit, to reflect on the first year and to think about the future perspectives of the Research Unit.

In addition, the topics of science communication, symptom-related research, predictive processing and experimental research paradigms were discussed in depth in workshops and lectures. The Research Retreat was also the occasion for a first very helpful-constructive feedback from the Advisory Board and the Mercator Fellow: Judith Rosmalen (Groningen), Peter Henningsen (Munich), Paul Enck (Tübingen) and Omer van den Bergh (Leuven, Belgium).

The three young scientists Laura Buck (SOMA.LIV) , Kristina Blankenburg (SOMA.SSD) and Birte Jessen (SOMA.CK) were also pleased to receive funding for their Mini Grant applications. With these Mini Grants, young scientists of the Research Unit can realize their own research ideas related to SOMACROSS. The Mini Grants were awarded by our Advisory Board.
The Research Retreat was a great success for our research group and we are already looking forward to the next retreat in summer 2023.

SOMACROSS celebrates birthday

On October 01, 2022, the Research Unit SOMACROSS celebrated its first birthday.
In this first year, we have already accomplished a lot: the preparation and start of all subprojects, the coalescence within the individual teams and within the overall project, the publication of several study protocols and two systematic reviews (SOMA.SOC), as well as the establishment of and storage in the biobank.

We look forward to the next year of SOMACROSS!

DKMP Poster Birte Jessen
DKPM Vortrag Luisa Peters

Presentation of the Research Unit SOMACROSS at the DKPM/DGPM conference 2022 in Berlin

A whole symposium was dedicated to the Research Unit SOMACROSS at the conference of the German College of Psychosomatic Medicine (DKPM) and the German Society of Psychosomatic Medicine and Medical Psychotherapy (DGPM) on the 23rd of June, 2022. After the overall scientific concept, the subprojects were presented by the involved early career scientists, including first achievements in patient recruitment and first results (project SOMA.SOC, publications ).

Furthermore, Prof. Bernd Löwe and Dr. Anne Toussaint reported on the experiences of applying for the DFG Research Unit SOMACROSS as part of a workshop on DFG funding.

Publication of the overall study protocol of SOMACROSS

We are pleased to announce the publication of the overall study protocoll of the Research Unit FOR 5211 - SOMACROSS in BMJ Open: Löwe et al., 2022, Link to study protocol

Vortrag S. Kirchhof EAPM

Presentation of the Research Unit SOMACROSS at the EAPM conference 2022 in Vienna

The Research Unit SOMACROSS was presented at the conference of the European Association of Psychosomatic Medicine (EAPM) on 9th and 10th of June 2022 in Vienna. We enjoyed the positive feedback on and interest in our contributions: two oral presentations, four posters and as part of one keynote lecture. Finally being able to meet in person again, we furthermore used the opportunity for networking and discussion, within the beautiful premises of the Hofburg in Vienna.


Kick-off meeting of the Research Unit SOMACROSS (FOR 5211)

We celebrated the launch of our Research Unit SOMACROSS with a kick-off meeting on 5th November 2021, welcoming on board all the new team members.

After initial words of the Research Unit‘s speaker Prof. Bernd Löwe on the process and purpose of SOMACROSS, both the Advisory Board (Prof. Peter Henningsen, Prof. Judith Rosmalen, Prof. Paul Enck) and the Mercator Fellow Prof. Omer van den Bergh were introduced.

To gain an overview on the SOMACROSS projects, the early career researchers presented the different subprojects and the newly composed teams. Projects

Since supporting early career researchers constitutes a central aim of our Research Unit, we then focused on the needs and ideas of these in an interactive workshop. In addition, meeting face-to-face allowed for personal encounters, discussion and the shared celebration of starting our interdisciplinary project, with four exciting years ahead of us.