The development of treatments for neuropsychiatric conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Schizophrenia, Autism Spectrum Disorders and Major Depressive Disorder, forms one of the major challenges of our time in public health. My research aims to develop a quantitative, transdiagnostic neurobiological approach to the understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders in order to accelerate the discovery and development of better treatments for patients with those disorders. The ability to precisely link neuropsychiatric symptoms to underlying neurobiology will not only facilitate the development of better treatments, it will also allow physicians to provide patients with a better understanding of the complexities and management of their illness. To realise this ambition, I have introduced a paradigm shift that is needed to raise awareness and to build an understanding of how neuropsychiatric diagnoses can be based on quantitative biological parameters. As project coordinator of the PRISM1 and PRISM2 EU funded projects, we are implementing this innovative transdiagnostic strategy that also allows for back translation of human quantitative findings to animals to test for causality, to expand our knowledge of the underlying neurobiological mechanism, and to facilitate the drug discovery process. Novel technologies have been implemented to stimulate this novel approach, including a smartphone application to assess real world daily social functioning (https://www.behapp.com/).
Recently, I have been appointed as President of the European College of NeuroPsychopharmacology (ECNP), the largest European organisation for neuroscience applied research. ECNP provides a platform for interactions between scientists, patients and their families, pharmaceutical industry and regulators for optimizing the treatment of brain disorders, and organizes many activities, including an annual congress with 4500-6000 participants.
Inspired by my interdisciplinary research, my education and teaching activities cross curricular boundaries, such as in biology, digital innovation, medicine, data sciences, biomedical research and career development. I very much enjoy the active discussions with students during my lectures and during the courses that I currently coordinate, including the Neurobiology of Psychiatric Disorders course (Biomedical Sciences), and the Career related topic course for students of the Top Master Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience (BCN). With a sizeable research group, I am supervising yearly a considerable number of Bachelor and Master research projects, such as in Biology, BCN, Biomedical Sciences, and the Science, Business and Policy program. I am a mentor in the FSE PhD mentoring program, allowing me to help and stimulate a cohort of PhD students during their projects. As executive board member of national and international scientific organizations, I have always prioritized early career scientists events. For example, I have chaired the program committee for the annual ECNP workshop where 100 early career European scientists meet to discuss the latest scientific developments and their career development plans.
1: Lanooij SD, Eisel ULM, Drinkenburg WHIM, van der Zee EA, Kas MJ. Influencing cognitive performance via social interactions: a novel therapeutic approach for brain disorders based on neuroanatomical mapping? Molecular Psychiatry, 2022
2: Bruining H, Matsui A, Oguro-Ando A, Kahn RS, Van't Spijker HM, Akkermans G, Stiedl O, van Engeland H, Koopmans B, van Lith HA, Oppelaar H, Tieland L, Nonkes LJ, Yagi T, Kaneko R, Burbach JP, Yamamoto N, Kas MJ. Genetic Mapping in Mice Reveals the Involvement of Pcdh9 in Long-Term Social and Object Recognition and Sensorimotor Development. Biological Psychiatry, 2015, 78(7):485-95
3: Jongs N, Jagesar R, van Haren NEM, Penninx BWJH, Reus L, Visser PJ, van der Wee NJA, Koning IM, Arango C, Sommer IEC, Eijkemans MJC, Vorstman JA, Kas MJ. A framework for assessing neuropsychiatric phenotypes by using smartphone-based location data. Translational Psychiatry 2020 Jul 1;10(1):211.
4: Schughart K, Libert C, and Kas MJ. Human disease: strength to strength for mouse models. Nature, 2012, 492, 41
5: Kas MJ, Kahn RS, Collier DA, Waddington JL, Ekelund J, Porteous DJ, Schughart K, Hovatta I. Translational neuroscience of schizophrenia: seeking a meeting of minds between mouse and man. Science Translational Medicine, 2011, 3(102):102mr3.