Human Genetics

Causal inference



Substance use

Focus of research

My research focusses on mechanisms that underlie comorbidity between different types of (mental) health disorders. I am particularly interested in causal questions. For instance, does smoking causally increase your risk of developing a depressive disorder? Or, are there causal effects between mental health disorders and cardiovascular disease, and if so, in which direction?

I obtained a MSc in Health Sciences in 2011 and a PhD in Behavioral Genetics in 2016. During my PhD I analyzed data of twins and their family members to disentangle genetic from environmental influences on mental health. I conducted postdoctoral training at the University of Bristol where I specialized in advanced genetic causal methods such as Mendelian randomization. Mendelian randomization uses genetic variants predictive of a particular risk factor as a proxy to test causal effects on an outcome.

In 2018 I joined the Psychiatry department at A-UMC, where I now have my own research group. We uniquely combine different methods –genetic, epidemiological, and experimental– to answer important causal health questions.

My work has been awarded with NWO Rubicon (2017-2018) and Veni (2018-2022) grants, a BBRF Young Investigator Grant (2019), a Senior Scientist Dekker grant from the Dutch Heart Foundation (2023-2027), and an ERC-Starting Grant (2023-2028).