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University Medical Center Groningen

Cisca Wijmenga, PhD

Lodewijk Sandkuijl Professor in de Humane Genetica, Spinoza prijs winnaar
Foto Ivar Pel
Foto Ivar Pel

Study: Biology at the University of Groningen
PhD thesis: Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy: from genetic mapping towards gene cloning, Leiden University, the Netherlands, 1993 (cum laude)

Inaugural lectures

Member of

Public lectures (videos)

Full CV Link


  • October 2018: United European Gastroenterology Research Prijs 2018. Zie aankondiging, artikel en video interview.
  • September 2018: Benoemd tot Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw tijdens de Lodewijk Sandkuil Professorship symposium.
  • April 2018: Cisca werd geïnterviewd voor het programma RADAR op Radio 1 (6 mins) over glutenarm/glutenvrije pizzas.
  • October 2017: Interview in Cell about the future of Human Genetics pdf
  • October 2017: Televisie interview met Cisca over haar onderzoek en hoe het is om Spinozapremiwinnar te zijn.
  • September 2017: Prof. Cisca Wijmenga benoemd to lid van de Fryske Akademy.
  • February 2017: Op zoek naar de heilige graal. Obesitas, diabetes, prikkelbaredarmsyndroom, autisme of depressie. Steeds meer ziektes blijken samen te gaan met een afwijkend darmmicrobioom. Maar wat is eigenlijk een gezond of normaal microbioom? Artikel over microbioom in Chemisch2Weekblad Life Sciences pdf
  • December 2016: Professor Wijmenga treedt af als hoofd afdeling
  • March 2016: Lid van KHMW, het oudste 'Geleerde Genootschap' in Nederland, opgericht in 1752
  • News items 2014-2015 (including ones on the Spinoza prize)

Research website: Systems Genetics
Publications: see GoogleScholar; PubMed


Complex genetics, systems genetics, bioinformatics, genetic association, pathway analyses, genomics, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, intestinal inflammatory diseases

My inspiration

I am fascinated by DNA and the wealth of information that is hidden in our genetic material. I want to learn why a genetic predisposition leads to disease in some individuals but not in others. If we gain insight into this process we may be able to find leads for developing instruments to treat patients and to prevent disease.

I also enjoy working with students and young scientists, and encouraging them to grow into skilful and competent researchers in an international environment. See comments from participants in my student mentor group.

My work

My research is aimed at unraveling the causal genetic factors of complex hereditary diseases. How does variation in hereditary material lead to disease and how can we use such knowledge to prevent or treat diseases? My PhD research focused on a relatively simple genetic disorder that is inherited according to Mendelian laws. In 1995, I was one of the first to take up the challenge to search for the genetic factors determining more complex disorders. My group adopted a hypothesis-generating, genome-wide approach and was able to make great progress on determining the genetic factors for intracranial aneurysms, type 2 diabetes and celiac disease. We have shown that several autoimmune diseases share common genetic factors. We are now working on systems genetics approaches towards understanding complex diseases. See Systems genetics, Genetics of complex immune-related diseases

I am a member of the the Celiac Disease Consortium (CDC)  and active in two EU projects: COPACTIC study (on COPD) and PreventCD (on celiac disease).

Top recent papers

  • ISI peer-reviewed publications (per 1 Nov 2018) : 649 articles, letters and reviews; total citations >37,000; h-index = 95.
  • Google Scholar statistics (per 1 Nov 2018): >780 publications; total citations 63,831; h-index = 123.
  • See all my publications in GoogleScholar or in PubMed
ERC Advanced grant
ERC Advanced grant

List of all PhD graduates

Supervisor (promotor) of 44 PhD students who have completed their thesis

8 have graduated cum laude; * indicates medical doctors (MD); # indicates those who have become a professor. Their research funding is given in brackets, where applicable.


Isis Ricano Ponce, * Marijn Visschendijk, Floris Imhann

  1. Alex Kanterakis, July 11, 2018: Integration techniques for modern bioinformatics workflows
  2. Juha Karjalainen, January 15, 2018: Gene expression studies. From basic research to the clinic.
  3. Marc Jan Bonder, March 22, 2017: The interplay between genetics, the microbiome, DNA-methylation & gene expression. Graduated cum laude
  4. Ettje Tigchelaar-Feenstra, December 14, 2016: From bugs to buttermilk: Epidemiological and molecular aspects of gut health (TiFN grant)
  5. Daria Zhernakova, September 12, 2016: Multi-omics approaches for better understanding of the downstream effects of genetic risk factors
  6. Serena Sanna, May 9, 2016: Enhancing genetic discoveries with population-specific reference panels
  7. * Javier Gutierrez-Achury, MD, December 2, 2015: HLA and other tales: The different perspectives of Celiac Disease (graduate school GSMS/ERC)
  8. Barbara Hrdličková, May 11, 2015: Finding the missing 'LiNCs' in celiac disease (NWO VICI grant)
  9. Rodrigo Almeida, March 25, 2015: Beyond genome wide association studies in celiac disease by exploring the non-coding genome (fellowship CAPES Foundation, an agency in the Ministry of Education, Brazil)
  10. Michael Erdos, March 18, 2015: Genetic etiology of type 2 diabetes
  11. * Guido Dolmans, MD, November 24, 2014: Genetic origin of Dupuytren’s disease and associated fibromatosis
  12. Harm-Jan Westra, September 17, 2014: Interpreting disease genetics using functional genomics. Graduated cum laude
  13. * Karin Fransen, MD, June 16, 2014: Inflammatory bowel disease: the genetic background and beyond
  14. * Rian Nijmeijer, MD, April 10, 2014: Genetic aspects of acute pancreatitis
  15. * Naishi Li, MD, December 11, 2013: Novel mechanisms for prevention and treatment of type 2 Diabetes
  16. Joanna Smolonska, October 9, 2013: The many faces of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (EU grant)
  17. *, # Ezra Burstein, MD, May 23, 2013: COMMD1: a modulator of immunity and NFkB activity
  18. Marcel Wolffs, October 31, 2012: Transcriptome analysis to investigate the link between obesity and its metabolic complications: type 2 diabetes and NASH (DFN grant)
  19. Agata Szperl, September 12, 2012: Mapping complex and monogenetic disorders: methods and applications (NWO VICI grant)
  20. * Maciej Geremek, MD, June 13, 2012: The classical genetic and genomic approach to the pathogenesis of primary ciliary dyskinesia (grant between UMC Utrecht and Polish Academy of Sciences)
  21. Gosia Trynka, December 14, 2011: Unlocking the genetics of coeliac disease (NWO VICI grant) Graduated cum laude
  22. Jihane Romanos, December 12, 2011: Genetics of celiac disease and its diagnostic values (EU grant)
  23. * Albertien van Eerde, June 8, 2011: Genetics of congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract.
  24. * Eleanora Festen, MD, April 6, 2011: Shared genetic background of inflammatory diseases of the bowel (NWO-AGIKO grant). Graduated cum laude
  25. Willianne Vonk, 17 March 2011: Understanding COMMD1 function: Novel perspectives from in vitro and in vivo studies (NWO-TOP grant).
  26. Florianne Bauer, December 16, 2010: Genes and diet in obesity related type 2 diabetes (IOP genomics grant)
  27. *,# Ramnik Xavier, MD (Harvard Medical School, Boston), October 11, 2010: Genes and pathways in Crohn’s disease
  28. Clara Elbers, October 6, 2010: On the origin of type 2 diabetes and obesity (IOP genomics grant)
  29. Jana van Vliet-Ostaptchouk, July 7, 2010: Revealing the genetic roots of obesity and type 2 diabetes (IOP genomics grant)
  30. *,# Alexandra Zhernakova MD, 3 December 2009. The autoimmune puzzle - shared and specific genetics of immune-related diseases (BSIK grant) Graduated cum laude
  31. * Victorien Wolters MD, 3 November 2009. Diagnostics and genetics of coeliac disease
  32. * Erik Knauff MD, 22 April 2009. Premature ovarian failure from phenotype to genotype
  33. # Lude Franke, 27 May 2008. Genome-wide approaches towards identification of susceptibility genes in complex disorders (BSIK grant). Graduated cum laude
  34. Patricia Muller, 25 March 2008. Transcriptomics as a tool to dissect copper homeostasis and COMMD protein function (NWO TOP grant)
  35. *,# Rinse Weersma MD, 17 October 2007. Genetic susceptibility for inflammatory bowel disease
  36. Prim de Bie, 4 October 2007. Novel insights in the molecular pathogenesis of human copper homeostasis disorders through studies of protein-protein interactions (NWO TOP grant)
  37. Alienke Monsuur, 3 July 2007. Unraveling the molecular genetic aspects of intestinal inflammatory disorders (NWO TOP grant)
  38. Martin Wapenaar, 28 November 2006. Genomics of coeliac disease - Molecular signatures of the pathogenesis (MLDS and BSIK grant)
  39. * Ynte Ruigrok MD, 16 June 2006. From intracranial aneurysm to subarachnoid hemorrhage: unraveling the genetics (ZonMW AGIKO grant). Graduated cum laude
  40. * Begona Diosdado MD, 21 March 2006. The puzzle of coeliac disease: pieces of the molecular pathogenesis (NWO research support grant)
  41. Harm van Bakel, 8 November 2005. Genome-wide analyses of copper metabolism and its regulation across species (NWO research support grant)
  42. Martine van Belzen, 16 December 2003. Coeliac disease: Investigation of the genetic factors underlying coeliac disease (MLDS grant)
Co-supervisor of:
  1. Jonathan van Tilburg, 10 December 2002. The Breda study: Search for genetic factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus in a defined Dutch population (DFN grant)
  2. # Bart van de Sluis, 19 November 2002. Identification of a copper toxicosis gene in Bedlington terriers (NWO research support grant). Graduated cum laude

My research group currently includes 18 PhD students and 7 postdocs, representing more than 13 different nationalities. Some come with their own funding, e.g. from China or Mexico. All recent theses completed in the Department of Genetics can be found here

About Cisca Wijmenga

More on my work, international activities, and work visits

Grants obtained

I have been awarded a total of well over €30 million for her research work on celiac disease, auto­immune and other related complex disorders, and for setting up new technologies. The new facilities have included a SNP array facility in the Academic Biomedical Centre, Utrecht University (2004), the Genomics Coordination Centre in UMCG (2009) and the Dutch Biobank Research Facility, NWO National Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Facilities (€9.8m) (2014).
In 2015 I was personally awarded an NWO Spinoza prize of 2.5 million and the University of Groningen Investment Agenda awarded me a grant for “Personalized Health” ( €2.9 million). In 2017 I was co-applicant for an NWO Gravitation grant: Netherlands Organ-on-a-Chip Initiative, which was awarded 18 million.

EU funding
EU funding

Other activities

Since 2000 I have been a member of several committees in the Netherlands, including several NWO committees: currently member of the NWO Research Institute for Diseases in the Elderly (RIDE) committee (since 2004), of the NWO Large Equipment committee (since 2007) and of the ZonMw TOP Grant committee (since 2008). I sat on the Netherlands Bioformatics Center (NBIC) Young Scientist Award committee (2011, 2012). I am on the scientific advisory committee ‘Career Development Grant’ of the Dutch Digestive Disease Foundation (MLDS), and am a member of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) interdisciplinary VIDI committee. More

Teaching courses in 'Exploring Medical Sciences' at University College Groningen. More

Laatst gewijzigd:13 november 2018 16:24
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