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Research Department of Genetics Staff
University Medical Center Groningen

Cisca Wijmenga, PhD

Lodewijk Sandkuijl Professor of Human Genetics, Spinoza prize winner
Photo by Ivar Pel
Photo by 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)
Member of KNAW (Royal Dutch Society of Arts and Sciences) more

Inaugural lectures


Awards and Honors

  • 2022 Galjaard lifetime achievement award
  • 2014–2021 Web of Science highly cited researcher (top 1%)
  • 2019 European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG) award
  • 2018 United European Gastroenterology Research Prize
  • 2018 Knighted into the Order of the Dutch Lion
  • 2015 Spinoza Prize

Public lectures (video)

  • Thúsakademy with Cisca Wijmenga about chronic illnesses and disease of ageing. A program made for Frisian television. See video.
  • Glutenintolerantie Medische Publieksacademie, a joint initiative of the UMCG and Dagblad van het Noorden, a public lecture by Prof. dr. Cisca Wijmenga, Drs. Gieneke Gonera, Gineke Venema and Jannie IJbema (71 mins, in Dutch), 19 March 2019.
  • DNA en de rol van genetica Kenniscafe Groningen, (75 mins, in Dutch), 20 Jan 2015
  • Genetica: feiten en fabels (50 mins, in Dutch), part of the University of Groningen 400th anniversary celebration, “Top of the Profs” lectures, 19 May 2014

Full CV Link


Email: C.Wijmenga
Publications: see GoogleScholar; PubMed


Complex genetics, systems genetics, bioinformatics, genetic association, pathway analyses, genomics, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, intestinal inflammatory diseases, organs-on-chip, gut-on-chip

My inspiration

Research is top sport. You need the very best people and facilities, which I have been able to build up in Groningen. I want to discover, for example, why some people can carry damaging mutations in their DNA but not get sick. Knowing this will lead to new options for treatment and prevention. LifeLines, the UMCG’s large population study, is essential for this research. I am fascinated by DNA and the wealth of information that is hidden in our genetic material.

I also greatly enjoy working with students and young scientists, and encouraging them to grow into skilful and competent researchers in a truly international environment. We have some 50 foreign researchers (of 22 different nationalities) working in the department. See map

See also comments from participants in my MSc student mentor group.

My work

My research is aimed at unraveling the causal genetic factors behind some 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 of searching for the genetic factors that determine more complex disorders. My group adopted a hypothesis-generating, genome-wide approach, and was able to make great progress on elucidating the genetic factors for celiac disease, intracranial aneurysms, type 2 diabetes and celiac disease. We are now working on systems genetics approaches towards understanding complex diseases and innovative organ-on-chip models for functional testing under specific genetic and tissue backgrounds. See also Systems Genetics, Genetics of complex immune-related diseases, Gut on Chip

I am a co-PI in the Netherlands Organ-on-a-Chip Intiative (NOCI), member of the the Celiac Disease Consortium (CDC) and active in two EU projects the COPACTIC study (on COPD) and PreventCD (on celiac disease). I also led the Genome of the Netherlands project (GoNL).

Top recent papers

  • ISI peer-reviewed publications (per 30 Nov 2022) : 691 articles, letters and reviews; total citations >66,000; h-index = 123.
  • Google Scholar statistics (per 30 Nov 2022): >780 publications; total citations 109,049; h-index = 159.
  • See all my publications in GoogleScholar or in PubMed
ERC Advanced grant
ERC Advanced grant

List of all PhD graduates

Supervisor (promotor) of 54 PhD students who have completed their thesis, 9 have graduated cum laude.
* indicates medical doctors (MD), # indicates those who have become a professor. Research funding is given in brackets, where applicable.


Dylan de Vries, promotion December 2022

  1. * Aadrian van der Graaf, January 19, 2022: Observational causality from –omics
  2. Niek de Klein, September 13, 2021: Genetic regulation of gene expression in brain and blood
  3. Annique Claringbould, December 2, 2020: Core gene identification using gene expression
  4. Maria Zorro Manrique, April 22, 2020: Celiac disease: from genetic variation to molecular culprits
  5. * Suzanne van Sommeren, November 25, 2019: Genetic susceptibility for inflammatory bowel disease across ethnicities and diseases
  6. Kieu Thi Thien Le, October 16, 2019: Functional genomics approach to understanding sepsis heterogeneity
  7. Raúl Aguirre-Gamboa, October 14, 2019: Integrative omics to understand human immune variation (Conacyte fellowship)
  8. Isis Ricaño Ponce, June 3, 2019: Towards finding and understanding the missing heritability of immune-mediated diseases
  9. * Floris Imhann, May 15, 2019: The gut microbiome in intestinal diseases. Graduated cum laude.
  10. Patrick Deelen, May 6, 2019: Multi-omics strategies for detecting gene-environment interactions
  11. Vicky Matzaraki, March 6, 2019: A systems genomics approach to identify risk loci and pathways to Candida infection
  12. * Marijn Visschendijk, September 5, 2018: Inflammatory Bowel Disease: New genes, rare variants & moving towards clinical practice
  13. Alex Kanterakis, July 11, 2018: Integration techniques for modern bioinformatics workflows
  14. Juha Karjalainen, January 15, 2018: Gene expression studies. From basic research to the clinic.
  15. Marc Jan Bonder, March 22, 2017: The interplay between genetics, the microbiome, DNA-methylation & gene expression. Graduated cum laude
  16. Ettje Tigchelaar-Feenstra, December 14, 2016: From bugs to buttermilk: Epidemiological and molecular aspects of gut health (TiFN grant)
  17. Daria Zhernakova, September 12, 2016: Multi-omics approaches for better understanding of the downstream effects of genetic risk factors
  18. Serena Sanna, May 9, 2016: Enhancing genetic discoveries with population-specific reference panels
  19. * Javier Gutierrez-Achury, MD, December 2, 2015: HLA and other tales: The different perspectives of Celiac Disease (graduate school GSMS/ERC)
  20. Barbara Hrdličková, May 11, 2015: Finding the missing 'LiNCs' in celiac disease (NWO VICI grant)
  21. 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)
  22. Michael Erdos, March 18, 2015: Genetic etiology of type 2 diabetes
  23. * Guido Dolmans, MD, November 24, 2014: Genetic origin of Dupuytren’s disease and associated fibromatosis
  24. Harm-Jan Westra, September 17, 2014: Interpreting disease genetics using functional genomics. Graduated cum laude
  25. * Karin Fransen, MD, June 16, 2014: Inflammatory bowel disease: the genetic background and beyond
  26. * Rian Nijmeijer, MD, April 10, 2014: Genetic aspects of acute pancreatitis
  27. * Naishi Li, MD, December 11, 2013: Novel mechanisms for prevention and treatment of type 2 Diabetes
  28. Joanna Smolonska, October 9, 2013: The many faces of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (EU grant)
  29. *, # Ezra Burstein, MD, May 23, 2013: COMMD1: a modulator of immunity and NFkB activity
  30. Marcel Wolffs, October 31, 2012: Transcriptome analysis to investigate the link between obesity and its metabolic complications: type 2 diabetes and NASH (DFN grant)
  31. Agata Szperl, September 12, 2012: Mapping complex and monogenetic disorders: methods and applications (NWO VICI grant)
  32. * 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)
  33. Gosia Trynka, December 14, 2011: Unlocking the genetics of coeliac disease (NWO VICI grant) Graduated cum laude
  34. Jihane Romanos, December 12, 2011: Genetics of celiac disease and its diagnostic values (EU grant)
  35. * Albertien van Eerde, June 8, 2011: Genetics of congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract.
  36. * Eleanora Festen, MD, April 6, 2011: Shared genetic background of inflammatory diseases of the bowel (NWO-AGIKO grant). Graduated cum laude
  37. Willianne Vonk, 17 March 2011: Understanding COMMD1 function: Novel perspectives from in vitro and in vivo studies (NWO-TOP grant).
  38. Florianne Bauer, December 16, 2010: Genes and diet in obesity related type 2 diabetes (IOP genomics grant)
  39. *,# Ramnik Xavier, MD (Harvard Medical School, Boston), October 11, 2010: Genes and pathways in Crohn’s disease
  40. Clara Elbers, October 6, 2010: On the origin of type 2 diabetes and obesity (IOP genomics grant)
  41. Jana van Vliet-Ostaptchouk, July 7, 2010: Revealing the genetic roots of obesity and type 2 diabetes (IOP genomics grant)
  42. *,# Alexandra Zhernakova MD, 3 December 2009. The autoimmune puzzle - shared and specific genetics of immune-related diseases (BSIK grant) Graduated cum laude
  43. * Victorien Wolters MD, 3 November 2009. Diagnostics and genetics of coeliac disease
  44. * Erik Knauff MD, 22 April 2009. Premature ovarian failure from phenotype to genotype
  45. # Lude Franke, 27 May 2008. Genome-wide approaches towards identification of susceptibility genes in complex disorders (BSIK grant). Graduated cum laude
  46. Patricia Muller, 25 March 2008. Transcriptomics as a tool to dissect copper homeostasis and COMMD protein function (NWO TOP grant)
  47. *,# Rinse Weersma MD, 17 October 2007. Genetic susceptibility for inflammatory bowel disease
  48. 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)
  49. Alienke Monsuur, 3 July 2007. Unraveling the molecular genetic aspects of intestinal inflammatory disorders (NWO TOP grant)
  50. Martin Wapenaar, 28 November 2006. Genomics of coeliac disease - Molecular signatures of the pathogenesis (MLDS and BSIK grant)
  51. * Ynte Ruigrok MD, 16 June 2006. From intracranial aneurysm to subarachnoid hemorrhage: unraveling the genetics (ZonMW AGIKO grant). Graduated cum laude
  52. * Begona Diosdado MD, 21 March 2006. The puzzle of coeliac disease: pieces of the molecular pathogenesis (NWO research support grant)
  53. Harm van Bakel, 8 November 2005. Genome-wide analyses of copper metabolism and its regulation across species (NWO research support grant)
  54. 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

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

Stepping into the role of Rector Magnificus of the University of Groningen meant taking on many new roles, please see my CV above for more details.

In 2017, I became Co-PI on the Netherlands Organ-on-a-Chip Initiative (NOCI). Previously, I was Co-director of BBMRI-NL2.0 (2015-2019) and a Project Leader for Nutrition and Health in the Top Institute for Food and Nutrition (TIFIN) (2011-2017). I was also a Board Member of University College Groningen.

Since 2000, I have been a member of many committees within the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), including serving on the board of ZonMW, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (2018–2019), and as a member of the interdisciplinary VIDI committee (2012, 2013), the Large Equipment committee (2007–2011), the Research Institute for Diseases in the Elderly (RIDE) committee (2004–2009) and the ZonMw TOP Grant committee (2008). I have also served on grant committes for the European Research Council, on the Netherlands Bioformatics Center (NBIC) Young Scientist Award committee (2011, 2012) and on the scientific advisory committee ‘Career Development Grant’ of the Dutch Digestive Disease Foundation (MLDS) (2012–2015). I have also served in various roles for the Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW). For a more complete list, please see More

I previously taught courses in 'Exploring Medical Sciences' at University College Groningen and continue to teach at the Leena Peltonen School of Human Genomics.

Last modified:01 December 2022 11.12 a.m.