Christiaan Vinkers


Dr. Christiaan Vinkers

  • psychoses
  • environmental risks


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 my 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 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 Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, the Dutch Brain Foundation, Neuroscience Cognition Utrecht, and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO, VENI). 

Research line and group

Research line
Vulnerability and resilience to stress
Number of PhD students
Number of postdocs

Personal fellowships and awards

  • 2014 EndoNeuroPsycho (ENP) Young Talent Award
  • 2014 European Psychiatric Association (EPA) Travel Award
  • 2014 Rudolf Magnus Fellowship
  • 2014 Dynamic of Youth grant Utrecht University (co-applicant)
  • 2013 NWO Veni Grant

Most recent key publications

  • 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.
  • Vinkers CH, Van Gastel WA, Schubart CD, Van Eijk KR, Luykx JJ, Van Winkel R, Joëls M, Ophoff RA, Boks MP; Genetic Risk and OUtcome of Psychosis (GROUP) Investigators, , The effect of childhood maltreatment and cannabis use on adult psychotic symptoms is modified by the COMT Val1⁵⁸Met polymorphism, Schizophr Res. 2013 Oct;150(1):303-11
  • Vinkers CH, Zorn JV, Cornelisse SC, Koot S, Houtepen LC, Olivier B, Verster JC, Kahn RS, Boks MP, Kalenscher T, Joëls M, Time-dependent changes in altruistic punishment following stress, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Jan 2013.
  • 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.
  • Vinkers CH, Mirza NR, Olivier B, Kahn RS, The inhibitory GABA system as a therapeutic target for cognitive symptoms in schizophrenia: investigational agents in the pipeline, Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2010 Oct,19(10):1217-33.