Annual Workshop Speaker: Tjalf Ziemssen

Digital twin in healthcare: the use case multiple sclerosis

Tjalf Ziemssen, Director of the Center of Clinical Neuroscience, TU Dresden


An individualized innovative disease management is of great importance for people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) to cope with the complexity of this chronic, multidimensional disease. However, an individual state of the art strategy, with precise adjustment to the patient’s characteristics, is still far from being part of the everyday care of pwMS. The development of digital twins could decisively advance the necessary implementation of an individualized innovative management of MS.

Through artificial intelligence-based analysis of several disease parameters – including clinical and para-clinical outcomes, multi-omics, biomarkers, patient-related data, information about the patient’s life circumstances and plans, and medical procedures – a digital twin paired to the patient’s characteristic can be created, enabling healthcare professionals to handle large amounts of patient data. This can contribute to a more personalized and effective care by integrating data from multiple sources in a standardized manner, implementing individualized clinical pathways, supporting physician-patient communication and facilitating a shared decision-making.

With a clear display of pre-analyzed patient data on a dashboard, patient participation and individualized clinical decisions as well as the prediction of disease progression and treatment simulation could become possible. Digital twins will help make precision medicine and patient-centered care a reality in everyday life.


Prof. Tjalf Ziemssen graduated in medicine from the medical schools of Bochum, Bern and London in 1998. Between 1998 and 2000, he finished his postgraduate neurological training in the department of neurology, University Clinic Dresden, Germany. In 1999 he completed his doctoral thesis in the laboratory of Prof. Michael Krieg (Institute of Clinical Chemistry, Laboratory Medicine and Transfusion Medicine, University of Bochum).

Between 2000 and 2003, Ziemssen was post-doctoral fellow of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and Max-Planck-Society (MPG) at the Max-Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Department of Neuroimmunology, within the groups of Prof. Reinhard Hohlfeld, Prof. Hartmut Wekerle and Dr. Antonio Iglesias.

Ziemssen is currently consultant at the neurological university clinic in Dresden, head of the autonomic lab, the neuroimmunological lab and the MS center in Dresden which is involved with over 1,000 MS patients. He has published more than 350 papers up to now and received several awards (eg. of the European Charcot foundation, of the German Ophthalmological Society, of the German Parkinson Society). In 2011, he received the professorship for clinical neuroscience at a new established center at Dresden University and is Director of the Center of Clinical Neuroscience.

One important research area is digital neurology applying the use case of multiple sclerosis. Multidimensional patient phenotyping applying AI into the concept of MS digital twin to predict disease course and treatment response which is component of several funded projects.

Tjalf Ziemssen at the University Clinic Dresden

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