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dr. M. (Marco) Boks Associate Professor - medical

  • Psychiatry

M. Boks


Research Programs


Genetic, epigenetic and epidemiological studies of Gene- Environment interplay

The main theme of my research is how our genetic background shapes the influence of the environmental risk for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 

 The idea that psychiatric disorders develop as a result of the interaction between genes and environment is generally supported. However methodological challenges of such studies have limited large scale genome wide efforts. Therefore studies that focus on the interaction between environmental risk and genetic background remain timely and necessary.

 However such genetic studies do not take into account  a more subtle but highly relevant molecular mechanisms of interactions between environment and genes that recently is identified as a key mechanism of adaptation. These mechanisms, referred to as epigenetics, are extensive and complex and to date not fully understood. Central to our understanding is that epigenetic mechanisms influences transcription of DNA by modifying access to the DNA sequences. What makes this line of research extra interesting is the potential for pharmaceutical manipulation.

To focus these studies we have chosen cannabis and trauma as a main environmental exposure. In addition to genetic variation as a modifier of environmental risk we study gene expression and DNA methylation levels. DNA methylation is central in gene-environment interaction as epigenetic silencing of risk genes is partly under the influence of environmental exposures of the probands as well as the mother. This work is supported by a NARSAD young investigators award and a Neuroscience and Cognition Utrecht stipendium. We are currently conducting a study on the influence of maternal famine in China on schizophrenia risk  and investigate epigenetic modification of the stress response in relationship with post-traumatic stress- and bipolar disorder. 

Specialties: Psychiatry, epigenetics, genetics, bio-informatics

Research line


Most recent key publications

1: van Gastel WA, MacCabe JH, Schubart CD, Vreeker A, Tempelaar W, Kahn RS, Boks MP. Cigarette smoking is equally strongly associated with Psychotic-Like experiences as Cannabis Use: a cross-sectional study in young Adults. Psychological Medicine 2013 Feb 18
2: Boks MP. Progress in gene environment studies. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Nov 15;72(10):799-800.
3: Boks MP, de Jong NM, Kas MJ, Vinkers CH, Fernandes C, Kahn RS, Mill J, Ophoff RA. Current status and future prospects for epigenetic psychopharmacology. Epigenetics. 2012 Jan 1;7(1).
4: Boks MP, Derks EM, Weisenberger DJ, Strengman E, Janson E, Sommer IE, Kahn RS, Ophoff RA. The relationship of DNA methylation with age, gender and genotype in twins and healthy controls. PLoS One. 2009 Aug 26;4(8):e6767.
5: Van Gastel WA, Tempelaar W, Bun C, Schubart CD, Kahn RS, Plevier C , Boks MPM. Cannabis Use as an Indicator of Risk for Mental Health Problems in Adolescents: a population-based study at secondary schools Psychological Medicine 2012 Dec 3:1-8

Fellowship and Awards

  • 1:  NARSAD Young Investigator Award 2010
    2: Semel Institute of Neuroscience, 2009 Phenomics Travel Award

Research Output (97)

Circulating Serum MicroRNAs as Potential Diagnostic Biomarkers of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder:A Pilot Study

Snijders Clara, Krauskopf Julian, Pishva Ehsan, Eijssen Lars, Machiels Barbie, Kleinjans Jos, Kenis Gunter, van den Hove Daniel, Kim Myeong Ok, Boks Marco P.M., Vinkers Christiaan H., Vermetten Eric, Geuze Elbert, Rutten Bart P.F., de Nijs Laurence 22 nov 2019, In: Frontiers in Genetics. 10 10 p.

The association between antibodies to neurotropic pathogens and bipolar disorder:A study in the Dutch Bipolar (DB) Cohort and meta-analysis

Snijders Gijsje J.L.J., van Mierlo Hans C., Boks Marco P., Begemann Marieke J.H., Sutterland Arjen L., Litjens Manja, Ophoff Roel A., Kahn René S., de Witte Lot D. 20 nov 2019, In: Translational Psychiatry. 9 13 p.

Evolutionary modifications in human brain connectivity associated with schizophrenia

van den Heuvel Martijn P, Scholtens Lianne H, de Lange Siemon C, Pijnenburg Rory, Cahn Wiepke, van Haren Neeltje E M, Sommer Iris E, Bozzali Marco, Koch Kathrin, Boks Marco P, Repple Jonathan, Pievani Michela, Li Longchuan, Preuss Todd M, Rilling James K 14 nov 2019, In: Brain : a journal of neurology. 142 , p. 3991-4002 12 p.

Neurons and glial cells in bipolar disorder:A systematic review of postmortem brain studies of cell number and size

Gigase Frederieke A.J., Snijders Gijsje J.L.J., Boks Marco P., de Witte Lot D. 1 aug 2019, In: Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 103 , p. 150-162 13 p.

Accelerating research on biological aging and mental health:Current challenges and future directions

Han Laura K.M., Verhoeven Josine E., Tyrka Audrey R., Penninx Brenda W.J.H., Wolkowitz Owen M., Månsson Kristoffer N.T., Lindqvist Daniel, Boks Marco P., Révész Dóra, Mellon Synthia H., Picard Martin 1 aug 2019, In: Psychoneuroendocrinology. 106 , p. 293-311 19 p.

Exploration of Shared Genetic Architecture Between Subcortical Brain Volumes and Anorexia Nervosa

Walton E., Hibar D., Yilmaz Z., Jahanshad N., Cheung J., Batury V. -L., Seitz J., Bulik C. M., Thompson P. M., Ehrlich Stefan, Hibar Derrek P., Stein Jason L., Renteria Miguel E., Arias-Vasquez Alejandro, Desrivieres Sylvane, Jahanshad Neda, Toro Roberto, Wittfeld Katharina, Abramovic Lucija, Andersson Micael, Aribisala Benjamin S., Armstrong Nicola J., Bernard Manon, Bohlken Marc M., Boks Marco P., Bralten Janita, Brown Andrew A., Chakravarty M. Mallar, Chen Qiang, Ching Christopher R. K., Cuellar-Partida Gabriel, Den Braber Anouk, Giddaluru Sudheer, Goldman Aaron L., Grimm Oliver, Guadalupe Tulio, Hass Johanna, Woldehawariat Girma, Klein Marieke, van Eijk Kristel R., Cahn Wiepke, Kahn Rene S., van Haren Neeltje E. M., Brouwer Rachel M., Pol Hilleke E. Hulshoff, Ophoff Roel, Adan Roger, Kas Martien, Koeleman Bobby, Ophoff Roel, 1 jul 2019, In: Molecular Neurobiology. 56 , p. 5146-5156 11 p.

The Role of Stressful Parenting and Mineralocorticoid Receptor Haplotypes on Social Development During Adolescence and Young Adulthood

Endedijk H. M., Nelemans S. A., Schür R. R., Boks M. P., van Lier P., Meeus W., Vinkers C. H., Sarabdjitsingh R. A., Branje S. 15 jun 2019, In: Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 48 , p. 1082-1099 18 p.

DNA methylation changes related to nutritional deprivation:A genome-wide analysis of population and in vitro data

He Yujie, De Witte Lot D., Houtepen Lotte C., Nispeling Danny M., Xu Zhida, Yu Qiong, Yu Yaqin, Hol Elly M., Kahn René S., Boks Marco P. 16 mei 2019, In: Clinical Epigenetics. 11

Longitudinal Changes in Genome-Wide DNA Methylation Levels Related to Treatment Outcomes and Recovery From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Vinkers Christiaan, Geuze Elbert, van Rooij Sanne, Kennis Mitzy, Schur Remmelt, Nispeling Danny, Smith Alicia, Nievergelt Caroline, Uddin Monica, Rutten Bart, Vermetten Eric, Boks Marco 15 mei 2019, In: Biological Psychiatry. 85 , p. S122-S123

Association of Polygenic Liabilities for Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia With Risk for Depression in the Danish Population

Musliner Katherine L., Mortensen Preben B., McGrath John J., Suppli Nis P., Hougaard David M., Bybjerg-Grauholm Jonas, Baekvad-Hansen Marie, Andreassen Ole, Pedersen Carsten B., Pedersen Marianne G., Mors Ole, Nordentoft Merete, Borglum Anders D., Werge Thomas, Agerbo Esben, Stahl Eli A., Breen Gerome, Forstner Andreas J., McQuillin Andrew, Ripke Stephan, Trubetskoy Vassily, Mattheisen Manuel, Wang Yunpeng, Coleman Jonathan R., I, Gaspar Helena A., de Leeuw Christiaan A., Steinberg Stacy, Pavlides Jennifer M. Whitehead, Trzaskowski Maciej, Pers Tune H., Holmans Peter A., Abbott Liam, Agerbo Esben, Akil Huda, Albani Diego, Alliey-Rodriguez Ney, Als Thomas D., Anjorin Adebayo, Antilla Verneri, Awasthi Swapnil, Badner Judith A., Etzekvad-Hansen Marie, Barchas Jack D., Bass Nicholas, Bauer Michael, Belliveau Richard, Bergen Sarah E., Boks Marco, Kahn Rene S., Ophoff Roel A., 1 mei 2019, In: JAMA Psychiatry. 76 , p. 516-525 10 p.

All Research Output (97)
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