UMCG receives more than 2 million euros for research into psychiatric and functional disorders

Psychiatric and functional disorders are among the most common disorders worldwide, and have a major personal and social impact. These disorders often occur together, but it is not clear what the causes are. The American National Institute of Mental Health recently awarded a grant of more than two million euros to the UMCG to research the causes of these disorders.

Psychiatric and functional disorders

Psychiatric disorders (eg, depression and anxiety disorders) and functional disorders (eg, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome) often coexist. To date, it is not clear why there is a link between these disorders and why they run in specific families. This study looks at what are shared and unique risk factors for these disorders.


In the study, a multidisciplinary team of researchers will study the data of more than 167,000 people from the biobank Lifelines. Lifelines collects health data from thousands of people in the Northern Netherlands, from children as well as parents and grandparents. The use of Lifelines offers unique possibilities, because it contains extensive data on many health factors in human life. From disorders, genetic risk, nutrition and stress to the way a person was raised. “With this data, we can study the interaction between common genetic and environmental risk factors. We want to use this to map out the causes of psychiatric and functional disorders," says psychiatrist and principal researcher Dr. Hanna van Loo.

More information about Lifelines

New treatments

With the outcomes of this research, the researchers hope to eventually develop new treatments. “I see many patients who suffer from multiple disorders. Sometimes we have to search for a long time to find which treatment suits the patient best. By gaining insight into the causes underlying the disorders and the combination of different disorders, we can take the next steps in developing new treatments and help patients better,” says Hanna van Loo.

Groundbreaking collaboration

The project is a collaboration between the UMCG and researchers from the renowned Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University. This grant reinforces a successful collaboration that started in 2014. The idea for this study arose during a working visit by principal researcher Kenneth Kendler to the UMCG.

Over the next five years, principal investigators Hanna van Loo, Robert Schoevers and Kenneth Kendler will work with a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the UMCG and Virginia Commonwealth University.