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Prof. Dr. Nils Opel
Jena University Hospital

Title of the Impulse lecture | 9:45 AM – 10:05 AM
Bridging Minds and Machines: Enhancing Mental Health through Data Harmonization and Machine Learning

The presentation sheds light on the promising prospects arising from the integration of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and digital data collection methods in neuroscientific and psychiatric research. A central aspect lies in the necessity to efficiently structure and digitize data to optimize their analysis. Simultaneously, the presentation emphasizes the importance of harmonizing data collection methods in research, clinical practice, and real-world environments. This harmonization enables a seamless translation of research findings into clinical applications. Standardized protocols and uniform data collection are crucial in this process. The implementation of AI-based analytical techniques introduces new forms of clinical decision support, though it also poses challenges, especially in the realm of human-machine interaction. Altogether, the described strategies offer significant potential for advancing neuroscientific and psychiatric research, contributing to the path towards personalized, effective patient care.

Dr. Nils Opel is a distinguished Professor for Translational Psychiatry and Senior Consultant at the Department of Psychiatry & Psychotherapy, University Hospital Jena, Germany. He completed his medical studies in Münster and Fort-de-France, earning his dissertation with highest honors. Dr. Opel obtained his license to practice medicine and pursued additional studies in psychology at the University of Münster. Dr. Opel combines a strong foundation in clinical medicine and psychology, exemplifying his commitment to advancing therapeutic approaches. He has established a robust research line focused on leveraging digital applications for symptom assessment and prediction, employing Machine Learning techniques for Clinical Decision Support. This initiative fosters a fruitful exchange with the field of Medical Informatics, showcasing Dr. Opel’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of psychiatric research through innovative technological approaches.
A recipient of the ECNP Rising Star Award and the DGPPN Research Award for predictive, preventive, and personalized medicine, Dr. Opel’s contributions to the field of translational and predictive psychiatry are highly acclaimed. He has demonstrated leadership and innovation as a Junior Group Leader in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Münster.
Since 2022, Dr. Opel has held the position of Assistant Professor for Translational Psychiatry & Senior Consultant at the Department of Psychiatry & Psychotherapy, University Hospital Jena, solidifying his role as a prominent figure in the field. He actively contributes to collaborative and interdisciplinary research efforts, serving as the Co-Chair of the ENIGMA “BMI X” Working Group.
In addition, Dr. Opel leads the research infrastructure of Federated Cohort Management at the newly established German Center for Mental Health. He also serves as the representative in the DZG-wide Research IT Working Group. Dr. Opel brings extensive expertise in the establishment and utilization of digital cohorts, harmonizatio of data acquisition in research and clinical routine as well as the utilization of multimodal data for the development of risk assessment & clinical decision support systems in psychiatry.
His extensive list of accolades includes the Hans-Heimann Award of the German Association for Psychiatry, the Dissertation Award Foundation “Pro ZNS”, and the Award for the promotion of junior scientists of the University Society Münster, among others. His recent appointment to the Steering Committee of the Jena Site of the German Center for Mental Health underscores his dedication to advancing mental health research.