Christiaan Vinkers, psychiatrist and researcher in our group, has been awarded a Vidi grant from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). This prestigious award, worth 800,000 euros, enables recipients to develop their own innovative line of research and set up their own research group in the coming five years. He obtained the award for his proposal ‘Understanding the impact of childhood trauma in depression’:

 “There are few experiences as common and consequential for depression as childhood trauma (CT, abuse or neglect before 18). Reported in ~10% of the general population, CT affects mental health across the life span. For depression, CT results in a clinically distinct and severe form which emerges earlier in life and has worse treatment outcomes. Even though CT-related depression is common (~25% of depressed patients), our understanding of the underlying mechanisms is limited and targeted treatments are lacking. Because CT occurs during development, it disrupts normal early life development of stress systems, leading to high cortisol levels and glucocorticoid receptor (GR) overactivation. Consequently, CT persistently affects the functionality of different stress systems (e.g. HPA-axis, immune system, catecholamines, and stress-related brain networks). I hypothesize that CT persistently impairs the dynamics of stress systems that are essential for recovery and thereby increase the risk for depression, but also offer an opportunity for treatment. As a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, I aim to integrate this urgent and large clinical problem with a novel multidisciplinary framework to better understand and alleviate the burden of CT-related depression.”