Brain & Health

Human studies, an example – the LORA study

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Clinical trials are research studies conducted on human participants to evaluate a drug or treatment and are crucial for the improvement of medical science. LORA (Longitudinal Resilience Assessment) is one such interesting and innovative research study  being conducted by researchers in Mainz and Frankfurt. LORA is basically a longitudinal study; a research design involving repeated observations of the same participants over a defined period of time. In the LORA Study, researchers aim to figure out psychological and biological mechanisms underlying resilience.

What is Resilience?

Resilience describes the maintenance or quick recovery of mental health during or after periods of adversity. Individuals coping with negative experiences can undergo a change in psychological and biological mechanisms. Resilience is considered as a dynamic and active process of adaptation.
An enormous number of people (more than half a billion) worldwide each year suffer from stress-related disorders. On the bright side, there are even more people who display good mental health even though they experience exposure to massive stressors such as traumatic events, physical illness and abuse or challenging life circumstances.
Resilience research represents an alternative strategy focusing on protective mechanisms to maintain mental health instead of investigating pathophysiological mechanisms, which is the predominantly used research strategy to understand disease-mechanisms. It is still widely unknown why some people stay mentally healthy or quickly recover in the face of comparable aversive experiences in their lives, whereas others tend to develop stress-related mental disorders such as, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety-disorders.

How is the LORA study conducted?

The LORA test-program consists of two parts. Participants are subjected to an online stressor assessment and collection of a hair sample to analyze the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol every three months. Every 1.5 – 2 years there will be two on-site test days either in Mainz or Frankfurt for two hours a day for a comprehensive assessment of psychological variables, collection of biological parameters and a neurobiological test battery.

Who can participate in the LORA study?

The LORA Study looks for highly motivated, physically and mentally healthy participants between the age of 18-50 years, to become part of a longitudinal study. The participants should not have taken part in any clinical study that involved drug treatment in the past six months.
Participating in a clinical study such as the LORA also offers advantages for the participants themselves, e.g. receiving a personal fitness check, a financial reimbursement as well as the feeling of having done a  good deed by supporting and promoting research. :)

For more information check out the webpage of the LORA study or the webpage of the German Resilience Center (DRZ) about other ongoing studies in Mainz (e.g. Mainz Resilience Project (MARP) and Gutenberg Brain Study (GBS)).

If you want to learn more about the projects deciphering the neurobiology of resilience to stress-related mental dysfunction, visit the Collaborative Research Center 1193:


Written by Tanja Jene; Edited by Chiara Galante and Radhika Menon; Info-graphic by Carine Thalman for NGC.

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