Focus of research

Brenda Penninx, PhD, is professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the department of Psychiatry of Amsterdam UMC (location VUmc) in Amsterdam (https://psychiatryamsterdam.nl). She serves as vice-Department Chair and member of the Management Team. Since 2004 she leads the multi-site Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA: www.nesda.nl), a longitudinal study of the course and consequences of depressive and anxiety disorders. 

Penninx received >50 M Euro from various national and international (EU or NIH) research grants, including the prestigious personal VIDI and VICI grants. Her current research group (10 assistant professors/ postdocs and >20 PhD students) is truly multidisciplinary: persons with diverse backgrounds (psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, epidemiology, mathematics, data science, sociology) together examine the etiology, treatment and consequences of depressive and anxiety disorders. More than 55 students have already obtained their PhD-degree under her supervision. Penninx has published over 1000 international articles, which are well cited (>70,000 citations, H-index>125). In 2016, Brenda Penninx has been elected as member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and Arts (KNAW). 

In addition to her leading the NESDA project, she has been involved in several other Dutch and international cohort and intervention studies over the last 20 years. Central themes in her research are understanding psychosocial, environmental, somatic, genetic and neurobiological risk factors and consequences of depression and anxiety disorders and how to intervene on these to improve mental health. Penninx participates e.g. in the EU-funded MoodFoodLifebrainPRISMRADAR-CNS. Earlycause, To_Aition and Respond projects.

The intergenerational transmission of stress and resilience is studied in the longitudinal multi-site MARIO project. The treatment response antidepressants and the efficacy of antidepressant discontinuation, is the theme of another multi-site, longitudinal cohort and RCT project onder her leadership: OPERA project.

Finally, to better understand the impact of daily-life stress, Penninx recently established the Stress-in-Action (SiA) Consortium. Its goal is to enable synergistic collaborations to discover how daily-life stress can be reliably measured, how it determines health, how individual variation impacts on daily-life stress, and how to intervene in a personalized manner on daily-life stress. Brenda Penninx is the Coordinator of this Consortium.