dr. C.H. (Christiaan) Vinkers Assistant Professor - medical
- Birth Center Neonatology - Medical
Christiaan Vinkers studied Pharmacy (2005), Law (2009), and Medicine (2009) at Utrecht University. In 2009, he finished his PhD thesis on fundamental neurobiological research and the GABA system (cum laude). Subsequently, he started his clinical training to become a psychiatrist and continued to carry out clinical research related to risk and resilience for psychiatric disorders and the role of the GABA system. In 2014, he became a psychiatrist and researcher at the Rudolf Magnus Brain Center.
His overall research objective is to investigate the neurobiological background of stress resilience and vulnerability including (epi)genetic, neuroendocrine, and brain circuitry factors, with a special interest in the GABA system. Traumatic stress, especially during early life, is a major risk factor for the development of almost all psychiatric disorders including bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia. Moreover, stress has persistent effects on brain structure and functionality. However, considerable inter-individual differences exist in outcomes after trauma exposure. Despite decades of research, we still cannot predict which individuals are at risk and which individuals are resilient following traumatic stress. Therefore, his goal is to shed more light on the neurobiological basis of stress susceptibility. His work is sponsored by grants of the the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO, VENI), ZonMW, the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, NARSAD, the Dutch Brain Foundation, and Neuroscience Cognition Utrecht.
Vulnerability and resilience to stress
Most recent key publications
1. Zorn JV, Schür RR, Boks MP, Kahn RS, Joëls M, Vinkers CH, Cortisol stress reactivity across psychiatric disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017 Mar;77:25-36.
2. Schur RR, Boks MP, Rutten BP, Daskalakis NP, de Nijs L, van Zuiden M, Kaverlaars A, Heijnen CJ, Joels M, Kahn RS, Geuze E, Vermetten E, Vinkers CH Longitudinal changes in glucocorticoid receptor exon 1F methylation and psychopathology after military deployment, Translational Psychiatry, 2017, in press.
3. Houtepen LC, Vinkers CH, Carrillo-Roa T, Hiemstra M, van Lier PA, Meeus W, Branje S, Heim CM, Nemeroff CB, Mill J, Schalkwyk LC, Creyghton MP, Kahn RS, Joëls M, Binder EB, Boks MP, Genome-wide DNA methylation levels and altered cortisol stress reactivity following childhood trauma in humans. Nat Commun. 2016 Mar 21;7:10967
4. Boks MP, Rutten BP, Geuze E, Houtepen LC, Vermetten E, Kaminsky Z, Vinkers CH, SKA2 Methylation is Involved in Cortisol Stress Reactivity and Predicts the Development of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) After Military Deployment. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2016 Apr;41(5):1350-6
5. Vinkers CH, Joëls M, Milaneschi Y, Gerritsen L, Kahn RS, Penninx BW, Boks MP. Mineralocorticoid receptor haplotypes sex-dependently moderate depression susceptibility following childhood maltreatment. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015 Apr;54:90-102.
6. Houtepen LC, Schür RR, Wijnen JP, Boer VO, Boks MP, Kahn RS, Joëls M, Klomp DW, Vinkers CH, Acute stress effects on GABA and glutamate levels in the prefrontal cortex: A 7T 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy study. Neuroimage Clin. 2017 Jan 4;14:195-200.
7. Vinkers CH, Joëls M, Milaneschi YM, Kahn RS, Penninx BW, Boks MP, Stress exposure across the life span cumulatively increases depression risk and is moderated by neuroticism, Depression Anxiety 2014.
8. Vinkers CH, Luykx JJ, Bakker SC, Visser W, van Boxmeer L, Strengman E, van Eijk KR, Lens JA, Borgdorff P, Keijzers P, Kappen T, van Dongen EPA, Bruins P, Verhoeven-Duif NM, de Koning TJ, Kahn RS en Ophoff RA, A Common Variant in ERBB4 Regulates GABA Concentrations in Human Cerebrospinal Fluid, Neuropsychopharmacology 2012, Aug;37(9):2088-92.
- Zorn JV, Schür RR, Boks MP, Kahn RS, Joëls M, Vinkers CH, Cortisol stress reactivity across psychiatric disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017 Mar;77:25-36.
Fellowship and Awards
2017 Wilhelmina’s Children Hospital Grant, Thriving after preterm birth: stress resilience and cognitive and emotional outcomes in childhood, €150K.
2016 Dutch Young Academy (“Jonge Akademie”) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), grant to initiate the national stress consortium STRESS-NL, €10K.
2015 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant
2014 Rudolf Magnus Fellowship, “Functional connectivity and stress vulnerability in siblings of schizophrenia patients”
2014 Seeding grant “ Dynamic of Youth“ program Utrecht University, “Vulnerability and resilience: genetic and epigenetic determinants of adolescent trajectories for depression and anxiety“, €67K.
2013-2016 PI, Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (VENI), “GABA and stress resilience”
2013-2015 Dutch Brain Foundation Fellowship, “Stress and the mineralocorticoid receptor”
2011 Neuroscience and Cognition Utrecht (NCU) grant, “Epigenetic and translational modification of the stress response”
2014 Young Talent Award from the Endo-Neuro-Psycho (ENP) Society
2014 UMC Utrecht Research Talent Program
2014 European Psychiatric Association (EPA) Award
2012 Selected for master class chaired by Dr. T. Moffitt and Dr. A Caspi, The University of Amsterdam Academic Medical Centre's annual Anatomy Lesson event.
2011 Fellowship Award, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP)
2009 PhD student of the year-award (Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences).