Donders Institute, The Netherlands

Description of organizationdonders institute

The Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour is an interdisciplinary research institute at Radboud University Nijmegen. In the joint effort of approximately 400 researchers with backgrounds in physics, biology, medicine, genetics, psychology and the social sciences, the Donders Institute studies the relationships between brain, cognitive processes and behavior at various levels from Molecule to Man. This includes the study of genetic and environmental determinants and of molecular and cellular processes, application of state-of-the art brainimaging methods and theoretical research and modelling.


The anticipated contributions of the Donders Institute to ITFoM are algorithm development for expert systems, sparse methods for regression/GWAS and brain connectivity mapping; providing genome-wide genotyping and neuroimaging data in psychiatric disease and in healthy individuals; establishing a direct link between genes, brain

intermediate phenotypes, cognitive functions as language, memory and cognitive control, and complex psychiatric

phenotypes, such as ADHD, autism and schizophrenia, and building software solutions in collaboration with SMEs.


Previous experience

The contribution of the Donders Institute to ITFoM will be delivered by four research groups: Machine learning (Kappen), Human Genetics (Brunner, Franke), Psychiatry (Buitelaar) and Neuroimaging (Beckmann, Norris,). Prof. Bert Kappen has made leading contributions to machine learning (learning algorithms, probabilistic reasoning and control theory) and computational neuroscience. He also developed software applications together with SMEs, such as the Bonaparte DNA matching software and the Promedas medical decision support system. Prof. Jan Buitelaar will bring in his experience and expertise in building large DNA-cognition-MRI clinical cohorts and in longitudinal and developmental studies, and in translational research that bridges preclinical and clinical work.

Prof. Barbara Franke and Prof. Han Brunner will contribute their experience in the genetic dissection of common and rare human diseases, based e.g. on genome-wide association approaches as well as analysis of rare variants based on copy number variation and next generation sequencing. They will also contribute expertise on neuroimaging genetics analyses in psychiatric disorder patients as well as the healthy population. Prof. Norris has made leading contributions to the acquisition of structural, diffusion weighted, and resting state fMRI data, while Prof. Beckmann will bring his expertise in investigating analytical approaches for the analysis of such neuroimaging data and understanding genetic associations with functional brain endophenotypes, e.g. to study structural markers of individual perceptual skills and genetic influence on functions.


Profile of staff members

Jan Buitelaar is a psychiatrist, and professor of psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center. He has a track record in clinical work and research in neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD and autism. He is the PI of the Dutch NeuroIMAGE project, and PI of two EU FP7 grants PERS and TACTICS and workpackage leader in three other EU grants (ADDUCE, STOP, EU-AIMS). He was among the first worldwide to publish on intermediate phenotypes in ADHD. He also participates in the Psychiatric GWAS Consortium. He published more than 400 peer-reviewed papers and supervised 42 completed PhD theses. His

recent work is focused on identifying the cognitive and neural correlates of risk genes for ADHD and other psychiatric disorders.


Prof. Bert Kappen is theoretical physicist with PhD from Rockefeller University in 1987. His research was awarded in 1997 with the prestigious national PIONIER research subsidy. He is the director of the Dutch Foundation for Neural Networks, which coordinates research on neural networks and machine learning in the Netherlands. His research is part of Pascal 2: the EU Network of Excellence on Machine Learning. He is honorary faculty at University College London. He is author of more than 150 publications.


Han Brunner is head of the department of Human Genetics at Nijmegen University Hospital. He has initiated and conducted research projects that use clinical genetic observations as the starting point for human molecular genetic investigations into such topics as human behaviour, skeletal development, brain development, neuromuscular disease, congenital malformations, and gonadal development and function. Han Brunner serves on numerous evaluation committees and scientific advisory boards including the European Society of Human Genetics, and the International Congress of Human Genetics. He received the prize of the the Dutch Organisation for Research of Neuromuscular diseases, and of the Clinical Genetics Society of the Netherlands.


Barbara Franke, is a biologist and professor of Molecular Psychiatry at the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. Affiliated with the departments of Human Genetics and Psychiatry, she heads the Researchlab for Multifactorial Diseases. Her work is dedicated to the identification of genetic risk factors for psychiatric disorders, especially ADHD, and the characterization of their effects at the molecular, cell and brain level. She is founder and PI of the International Multicentre persistent ADHD CollaboraTion (IMpACT) and a member of the management teams of the International ENIGMA consortium on neuroimaging genetics and the International Multicentre ADHD Genetics (IMAGE) project. She participates in the international ADHD Molecular Genetics Network and Psychiatric GWAS Consortium.


Christian Beckmann is professor of Analysis Methods for Imaging Neurosciences. He studied Mathematics and theoretical Physics at M√ľnster University, Germany and obtained a MSc in Mathematics and Foundations of Computer Sciences and a DPhil in Information Engineering at the University of Oxford, UK. He is head of the NeuroImaging group at the University of Twente, Enschede, NL and Principal Investigator at the Donders Institute where he develops tools and techniques for cognitive and clinical imaging neuroscience. In addition, he holds honorary research lectureships at Oxford University and Imperial College London and is an Investigator in the Human Connectome Project. He is co-author of one of the main image analysis software packages (FSL) and has published more than 80 peer-reviewed papers.


David Norris is professor of MR physics applied to cognitive neuroscience at the Radboud University Nijmegen, also Professor of Neuroimaging a the University of Twente and member of the medical faculty at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Past president International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM). Fellow ISMRM and European Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology. Research interests: Contrast mechanisms and physiology of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI); MR-methodology for fMRI; Proton spectroscopy; Perfusion Imaging. Author of more than 110 peer reviewed papers.



Donders Institute

SNN Adaptive Intelligence

Department Human Genetics - Genetics of brain function and (psychiatric) malfunction



Five recent publications relevant to the project

1) Albers C.A., Kappen H.J. Haplotype inference in general pedigrees using the cluster variation method. Genetics, no. 177, pp. 1101-1116, 2007


2) Poelmans G, Pauls DL, Buitelaar JK, Franke B. Integrated genome-wide association study findings: identification of a neurodevelopmental network for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2011 Apr;168(4):365-77.


3) Doria, V., Beckmann, C.F., Arichi, T., Merchant, N., Groppo, M., Turkheimer, F.E., Counsell, S.J., Murgasova, M., Aljabar, P., Nunes, R.G., Larkman, D.J., Rees, G., and Edwards, A. D. (2010). Emergence of resting state networks in the preterm human brain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 107(46), 20015-20020.


4) Smith, S.M., Fox, P.T., Miller, K.L., Glahn, D.C., Fox, P.M., Mackay, C.E., Filippini, N., Watkins, K.E., Toro, R., Laird, A.R., and Beckmann, C.F. (2009). Correspondence of the brain's functional architecture during activation and rest. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106(31), 13040-13045.


5) Vissers LE, de Ligt J, Gilissen C, Janssen I, Steehouwer M, de Vries P, van Lier B, Arts P, Wieskamp N, del Rosario M, van Bon BW, Hoischen A, de Vries BB, Brunner HG, Veltman JA. A de novo paradigm for mental retardation. Nat Genet. 2010 Dec;42(12):1109-12. Epub 2010 Nov 14. PubMed PMID: 21076407.