I am a professor of Lifecourse Epidemiology of Common Mental Disorders. Being trained as an (experimental) psychologist, (bio)statistician and epidemiologist, I have always worked on the crossroads of medical and social sciences. My affinity with multi- and interdisciplinary research is reflected in my directorship of the multidisciplinary Health in Context Research Institute for Prediction, Prevention and Care and my affiliation with the Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion regulation (ICPE), which performs research at the junction of various disciplines, with the aim to unravel psychobiological processes involved in the onset and course of common mental problems, in particular affective disorders. In addition, I am principal investigator of the longitudinal study TRAILS (Tracking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey, www.trails.nl), which was set up over twenty years ago to chart and explain the mental health and development of adolescents and young adults, and involves researchers working in various scientific domains and institutes in the Netherlands and abroad.
My inspiration as a scientist is driven by a great deal of curiosity as well as the desire to better understand and predict the intricacies of the onset of course of mental health problems in order to improve prevention and care. My research mainly focuses on the interplay of individual psychobiological vulnerability and resilience factors, conceived as the result of genetic endowment and past experiences, and environmental challenges in the development and course of depressive symptoms. This work is based on observational data collected in large longitudinal epidemiological surveys, complemented with studies involving many repeated measurements in smaller groups to assess temporal patterns of specific mood-related factors and the effects of interventions thereon. An example of such a study concerns the question how adolescents lose the ability to experience pleasure and may gain it back again (www.nofunnoglory.nl).