Brenda Penninx

Brenda Penninx, PhD, is Professor at the Department of Psychiatry of the Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit in the Netherlands. Her focus is on cross-disciplinary mental health research in which she integrates psychiatry, psychology, neuroimaging, genomics, psychoneuroendocrinology, sociology and behavioural medicine.

She founded the multi-site, longitudinal Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (www.nesda.nl), an invaluable research resource for psychiatry which so far yielded >68 PhD-theses and >600 publications. Themes of her research program encompass: 1) examination of the role of psychosocial, neurobiological and genetic factors in etiology and course of depression and anxiety disorders; 2) examination of treatment response variability to advance development and testing of new treatments. For this, she embeds large-scale ‘omics’ and real-world ambulatory assessments of behaviour and emotions in her studies.

Penninx’s work on immunometabolic depression provided novel insights into depression’s heterogeneity helped to pave the way towards designing new personalised interventions. Funded through prestigious national or EU-grants Penninx currently tests novel lifestyle (e.g. exercise and nutritional) interventions. She recently co-initiated the MARIO study that follows high-risk children and young adults in their stress and psychopathology patterns during life (www.mario-project.nl).

Penninx has been able to weld a successful research group, containing of 10 Assistant Professors/Post-doc fellows and 15 PhD students. In 2016, she has been elected member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and Arts.