Peter Burbach studied chemistry and obtained his PhD degree with Ronald de Kloet and David de Wied at the Rudolf Magnus Institute, Utrecht University, in 1980. He did postdoctoral research with Jacques Drouin, Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, Canada, and returned in 1982 to the Rudolf Magnus Institute. In 1993 he was appointed as full professor in the molecular biology of neuropeptide systems, in molecular neuroendocrinology (1997) and in molecular neuroscience (2001). He is head of the department Neuroscience & Pharmacology. He is summer scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, USA.
His present research concerns brain development and neurodevelopmental disorders, specifically autism. Key questions in his research concern the pathogenesis caused by mutations in contactins, a specific class of autism genes.
He has started his research in the field of biosynthesis of neuropeptides, and developed his interest in regulatory mechanisms via transcriptional regulation and transcription factors to brain development. He worked on the developmental mechanisms of dopamine neurons, and in recent years his research towards neurodevelopmental disorders. His work covered a 300 publications amongst which Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, J. Neuroscience, and PNAS.