New EBRAINS-project explores personalised treatments of mental health disorders

21 February 2024

In the EU, mental disorders are a growing concern and the need for effective treatments has never been more critical. Schizophrenia, a condition that impacts 1% of the global population, shows the limitations of current therapeutic options, with 30-50% of patients experiencing inadequate responses to existing antipsychotics.

The “Virtual Brain Twin for Personalised Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders” project, initiated on 1 January 2024 and coordinated by EBRAINS AISBL, introduces an innovative approach to psychiatric care. It aims to generate virtual brain twins for psychiatric patients, through an ecosystem that utilises neuronal microcircuit simulation, mathematical analysis, innovative AI tools, and insights from psychiatric care and clinical studies. Funded by a 10 million Euro grant from the European Commission under the Horizon Health Europe Calls 2023 initiative, this open access and open-source four-year project plans to stand at the forefront of personalised medicine in psychiatry.

Neues EBRAINS-Projekt entwickelt personalisierte Hirnmodelle für die psychiatrische Forschung
Graphic demonstration of "Virtual Brain Twin"
Viktor Jirsa/INS Aix-Marseille University

The Jülich Supercomputing Centre is contributing its many years of expertise in supporting computing-intensive brain research. Under the leadership of Dr Sandra Diaz and Wouter Klijn, JSC is responsible for designing the necessary computer infrastructure that the scientists use to calculate their virtual models. At the same time, the JSC is involved in researching new optimisation and AI methods to map the interactions between high-resolution neural network models and whole-brain models.

The goal of the Virtual Brain Twin platform is to guide clinicians in optimising medication type and dosage, and exploring alternative treatments like brain stimulation and lifestyle changes. By harnessing big data, multiscale modelling, and high-performance computing - all securely protected for data safety - this platform intends to better bridge the gap between molecules and the patient's brain.

Under the scientific direction of Prof. Viktor Jirsa, Director of the Inserm Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes at Aix-Marseille-Université, France, and Chief Science Officer EBRAINS AISBL, the project will focus on psychosis in schizophrenia patients. “The Virtual Brain Twin project not only aims to enhance the quality of life for individuals suffering from these conditions, but also to lead the development of personalised treatments”, Jirsa stated.

Guided by ethics requirements and embedded within the European digital neuroscience research infrastructure, EBRAINS, the Virtual Brain Twin platform aims to be initially accessible to neuroscientists, clinical researchers, and mathematical modellers. In the future, it intends to expand to clinicians and patients, with the objective to achieve better patient outcomes.


The EBRAINS research infrastructure, a key outcome and legacy of the EU-funded Human Brain Project (HBP), was officially launched in 2019. Two years later, in 2021, EBRAINS was included in the Roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). In this next phase, after the recent conclusion of the HBP, EBRAINS will complete the transition into a sustainable infrastructure.

EBRAINS is an open research infrastructure that gathers high-quality research data, tools and computing facilities for brain-related research, built with interoperability at the core. The infrastructure offers an extensive range of FAIR data sets, a most comprehensive multilevel brain atlas, AI-based tools for analysis, modelling and simulation tools, and access to high-performance computing resources, robotics and neuromorphic platforms to researchers. Explore the tools and services available here.

EBRAINS AISBL is an international non-profit association, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. It is organised around a central hub that coordinates a pan-European network of services delivered through currently 11 National Nodes: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

Further reading: "New in The Lancet Neurology: Advances in brain modelling open a path to digital twin approaches for brain medicine" (27 March 2023)


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Last Modified: 21.02.2024