Current projects

The new triennial funding period from 2014 to 2017 of the DFG research is entitled “Expectation and conditioning as basic processes of the placebo and nocebo response – Transferring mechanisms to clinical applications”. In this second funding period the research group focuses on mechanisms modulating placebo and nocebo responses in order to systematically apply them to different clinical conditions, such as post-operative pain, insomnia, breast cancer, and immunosuppression after kidney transplantation. Therefore, the different subprojects of the research group either focus on the manipulation of expectations or on conditioning. These two emphases are both applied in different physiological systems in healthy probands and in the context of clinical studies.

In addition to the different subprojects of the FOR 1328 there is a steering committee. Its members are Prof. Rief (Marburg), Prof. Enck (Tübingen), Prof. Bingel (Essen), and Prof. Schedlowski (Essen).

The following table provides an overview of the current projects of the DFG research group.

ProjectProject LeaderPhD Students

Subproject 1

Exploiting learning mechanisms to maximize analgesic treatment outcome 

Prof.  Dr. U. Bingel,

Department of Neurology, University Medical Centre Duisburg-Essen


Subproject 2

Neurobehavioral mechanisms of learned immunosuppressive placebo responses: From basics towards clinical application

Prof. Dr. Manfred Schedlowski,

Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioural Immunobiology , University Medical  Centre Duisburg-Essen

Prof. Dr. Oliver Witzke

Department of Nephrology, University Medical Center Duisburg-Essen

M. Sc. Mol. Biol. Julia Kirchhof

M. Sc. Psych. Anna Lena Kahl

Subproject 3

The influence of variability of prior experience and pain on placebo responses

Prof. Dr. Christian Büchel

Dept. of Systems Neuroscience, University Medical Center Hamburg Eppendorf

Mag. rer. nat. Arvina Grahl

Subproject 4

Effects of emotional context and tactile stimulation on the placebo response in a nausea model

PD Dr. Karin Meissner

Institute of Medical Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich

Prof. Dr. Matthias Tschöp

Institute for Diabetes and Obesity, Helmholtz centre Munich

M. Sc. Anja Haile

Subproject 5

Effects of emotional context on placebo analgesia and nocebo hyperalgesia in a visceral pain model

Prof. Dr. Sigrid Elsenbruch,

Dept. of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Immunobiology, University Medical  Centre Duisburg-Essen

PD Dr. Sven Benson

Medical Faculty, University of Duisburg-Essen

Dipl.-Psych. Till Roderigo

Subproject 6

Clinical implications and applications of placebo effects: Potential for post-operative pain management

Prof. Dr. Herta Flor,

Institute of  Neuropsychology and Clinical  Psychology, ZI Mannheim

PD Dr. Regine Klinger,

Dept. of Psychology, Universtity of Hamburg

Dr. Kerstin Limbrecht Ecklundt

Subproject 8

Clinical applications of placebo research II: Conditioning of pharmacological responses in sleep patterns in mild to moderate insomnia

Prof. Dr. Winfried Rief,

Div. of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Marburg

Dr. Bettina Doering

Div. of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Marburg

Dipl.-Psych. Alexander Winkler

Subproject 9 - intended in 2015

Modulation of nocebo responses by informed consent procedures in women with breast cancer


Prof. Dr. Yvonne Nestoriuc

Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Hamburg

PD Dr. Isabell Witzel

Breast Centre, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf

Dipl.-Psych. Sarah Heisig

Subproject Z

Central Tasks of all Subprojects of the DFG Research Unit

Prof. Dr. Winfried Rief,

 Div. of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Marburg

Dipl.-Psych. Julia Rheker