The European project LifeBrain has been set up this year. This is a project funded with ten million euros by the European Union program Horizon 2020, and which will last five years, aiming to identify risk and protective factors in the brain and mental health during different life stages. The project counts with the participation of fourteen research groups from different European countries –mainly Scandinavian- coordinated by the University of Oslo. The only group representing southern Europe is led by David Bartrés Faz, researcher from the Institute of Neurosciences of the University of Barcelona and IDIBAPS and coordinator of the Barcelona Brain Stimulaiton Lab (BBSLab).
In order to carry this study out, researchers will integrate data from big European cohorts on cognitive and genetic facets, as well as mental health, lifestyle and neuroimaging in different age ranges. This information comes from more than 6.000 people who have been studied over different stages of their lives, and they bring a total of 40.000 data together. In order to widen the analysis, they are also working on linking these data to other records from national and regional archives, biobanks and other large studies.
“The underlying idea of the project is the way in which we age, from a cognitive perspective, it certainly depends on previous life stages and there are risk and protective factors that have a different impact depending on the life stage, and end up determining if we age well or poorly in the cognitive aspect” says David Bartés Faz.
“In short –continues the researcher-, what we are looking for is to understand which modifiable configurations of risk and protective factors, together with genetic factors, make someone mentally age better than another”. The project is quite focused on personalized medicine and it aims to create a stratification when finding risk groups, as well as giving preventive health advice and offering tools for clinical trials and improvement policies for people’s mental health, in collaboration with the involved authorities and entities.
In the IDIBAPS and UB team also participate Carme Junqué, head of the Neuropsychology team at IDIBAPS, Barbara Segura (UB-IDIBAPS) and Cristina Solé-Padullés (UB). Another collaborator is the team led by Emili Ros, from the Lipids Unit of the Endocrinology and Nutrition Department of the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona and IDIBAPS, to bring data on neuroimaging, cognitive functions and lifestyle of the elderly. Also, the team of the UB will take part in the data analysis for the scientific objectives of the project and will play an important role in the incorporation of institutional, social and health policy stakeholders in the study.