CONVERGE

CONVERGE (Causal methOds and NeuroVascular Epidemiology) is a research group that

  • focuses on a variety of methodological challenges and
  • conducts epidemiological research on exposure and diseases with relevance to public health.

 

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About us

The main topics of research of the CONVERGE (Causal methOds and NeuroVascular Epidemiology Research Group) team are

  • Neurovascular and neurodegenerative diseases as well as language development disorders of the nervous system
  • Methodological research and application
  • Meta research
  • App-based research
  • Gender-specific research

Furthermore, the working group is involved in various projects of the German "Innovationsfonds" and provides conceptual advice.

Research

Research on Neurovascular and Neurodegenerative Diseases, and Neurodevelopmental Language Disorders

Specifically, we seek to better understand the underlying causes and consequences of neurovascular and neurodegenerative diseases like migraine, stroke, dementia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, which have a large burden on the population level. The multicausal nature, complexity, and unpredictability of the onset of these diseases make them particularly challenging to study, especially since the impact of individual risk and protective factors are known to change across the life course. Another focus of interest lies in the field of speech development disorders. This includes projects such as digital game-based learning for early literacy and the neurobiology of language.

Related ongoing projects

  • Migraine, long-term vascular, cognitive outcomes, and mortality in observational datasets
  • Disentangling causal role of acute triggers in migraine pathophysiology
  • Understanding the course of migraine and symptom remission with increasing age
  • Performance of cardiovascular risk prediction models for cardiovascular outcomes in the elderly population
  • Secondary prevention of stroke: guideline development
  • Population-based registries for rare neurodegenerative diseases and corresponding reconstructed cohort study design
  • Neurocognitive impact of preventive gaming in dyslexia

Methods Research and Application

To tackle the methodological challenges posed by complex research questions, our research team applies modern methodology, evaluates commonly applied methods and develops new techniques with the goal of providing reliable answers to important clinical and population health questions. We especially value approaches backed by solid research questions and critical thinking, that are rooted in a causal framework to better understand how diseases work. We also understand the importance of high-quality prediction tools in public health settings and seek to validate and improve existing tools regularly used in practice to inform precision medicine and targeted preventive strategies.

Related ongoing projects

  • Propensity score-based methods in causal inference
  • Promotion of the use of causal inference framework in Health Data Sciences and clinical research domains
  • Consulting activities including international and inter-institutional collaborations, methods exchange via the CONNECT program platform
  • “Peerspectives”: development and evaluation of a methods-focused peer-review training module for doctoral students
  • Use of Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGS) in clinical risk prediction modeling
  • How blockchain technology could influence observational research and healthcare

Meta Research

Several of our research projects fall under the domain of meta-research, in which we critically assess the quality of methods applied in current literature. We are specifically interested in quantifying the impact of methodological inconsistencies on individual study results, their interpretation, and their ultimate influence via implementation in guidelines and policies. Other projects explore the potential for digital health solutions in applied settings and take a critical look at research funding with respect to (global) disease burden

Related ongoing projects

  • Reporting and interpretation of effect estimates in clinical studies
  • Studying the rationale behind disbursement of disease-specific research funds in western countries
  • Examining variables and selection strategies for control of confounding in migraine research

App-based research

Regarding the developments of the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic, the usage of app-based research options has become an attractive option.

Related ongoing projects

  • CovBot: Evaluation of technical solutions, including an AI-based Coronavirus Hotline assistant, to support the telephone service in public health authorities during pandemics
  • Descriptive data analysis of relevant COVID-19 symptom patterns collected from an app in Berlin
  • Modeling migraine trajectories using an app-based migraine symptom tracker (M-Sense)
  • Delivering app-based interventions to children at cognitive or genetic risk of dyslexia (GraphoGame)

Gender-related research

Ongoing research projects

  • Project with Antoinette Maassen van den Brink, PhD from Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam
  • Data generation and analytic strategies in a hard to reach populations
  • Migraine prevalence estimation in the trans population accounting for time variation
  • Estimating migraine incidence rates in a sub-cohort of the trans population

Consultation and Collaboration

CONVERGE team members also provide consultation in the design and analysis stages of a wide variety of projects in clinical and population-based settings. Many of our research projects are based on several national and international research collaborations.

CONVERGE is also involved in multiple Innovation fonds projects:

Team

Current core team

  • Toivo Glatz, PhD
  • Tobias Kurth, MD, ScD
  • Marco Piccininni, MSc, PhD candidate
  • Jessica L Rohmann, MSc, PhD candidate

Research group alumni

  • Annette Aigner
  • Anja Collazo
  • Magdalen Gallagher
  • Helena Heese

Student assistants

  • Muhammad Barghouth
  • Hannah Grillmaier
  • Jennifer Haas
  • Chris Vogel
  • Nadja Wülk
  • Sophia Yap

Affiliated PhD and graduate students

  • Max Appenroth
  • Sofia Gonçalves
  • Sebastian Hinck
  • Robert Hoffmann
  • Aekyung Lee
  • Julia Nübel
  • Annemarie Pantke
  • Aaron Rösch
  • Daniel Schmidt
  • Julia Thom
  • Jascha Wiehn