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Collaborative research centers of the German Research Foundation (DFG)

The different working groups of the Institute are engaged in two different Collaborative Research Centers (CRCs) of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

SFB 1289 (“Extinction Learning”) analyzes the neurobiological and neuropsychological mechanisms of extinction learning. TRR-SFB 289 (“Treatment Expectation”) focuses on the mechanisms and clinical application of placebo and nocebo responses.

SFB 1280 

While the neurobiologcial mechanisms underlying the acquisition of new information are already quite well established, only very little is known about the mechanisms of extinction learning or forgetting.

Subproject A12 (PI, Harald Engler, Sigrid Elsenbruch) investigates the impact of acute and chronic inflammation on the extinction of pain-related fear in healthy humans and in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

The subproject A18 (PI, Martin Hadamitzky, Manfred Schedlowski) analyzes the neurobiological mechanisms and clinical relevance of learned immune responses in experimental animals.



The expectations of patients regarding the effects of a certain medical treatment can affect both the disease course and treatment outcome. The subprojects of this CRC investigate the mechanisms and clinical relevance of treatment expectations, involving research groups from the Universities of Duisburg-Essen, Hamburg and Marburg

Subproject A10 (PI, Harald Engler, Manfred Schedlowski) investigates the neurobiological and molecular mechanisms of negative treatment experiences in a rodent model of endotoxin-induced sickness behavior.

Subproject A11 (PI, Sven Benson) determines the effects of positive treatment expectation on the efficacy of an anti-inflammatory drug. Employing the experimental endotoxemia paradigm in healthy subjects, the effects of treatment expectation on sickness symptoms, inflammatory parameters as well on the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory medication is analyzed.

Subproject A12 (PI, Manfred Schedlowski, Wiebke Sondermann, Clinic of Dermatology) investigates the effects of treatment expectation in psoriasis patients on subjective (pain perception, itch, life quality) and physiological (severity of skin lesions) parameters.

Subproject Z02 (PI, Harald Engler & Manfred Schedlowski together with Winfried Rief & Erik Müller, Marburg) provides standardized psychometric instruments for the assessment of e.g. anxiety, stress, negative affect for all subprojects of this center grant. In addition, this subproject is responsible for the sampling of saliva samples and analyses of awakening cortisol and alpha-amylase activity in order to determine whether and to what extent endocrine factors affect treatment expectation. Together these psychological and endocrine analyses will allow the characterization of possible predictors for placebo or nocebo responses in general.

About us

The Institute of Medical Psychology was founded in 1978 and is one of the pre-clinical Departments of the Essen University Hospital.


  • Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Immunobiology
    University Hospital Essen
    Hufelandstr. 55
    45122 Essen