Brenda W.J.H. Penninx is professor at the department of psychiatry, Amsterdam UMC/VUmc. She is member of the Management Team of the department (research portfolio) and member of the Management Team of Amsterdam Neuroscience.

Brenda Penninx studied Health Sciences at the Catholic University of Nijmegen and obtained her PhD in Epidemiology at the VU University in 1996. Afterwards she worked in the USA for several years as Visiting Fellow and Visiting Scientist at the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, and as Assistant/Associate Professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. In 2004 she returned to the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam to become the principal investigator of the NESDA study; the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety.

Penninx’s research group is well-funded and received >25 M Euro from various national and  international (EU or NIH) research grants, including the prestigious personal VIDI and VICI grants. Her current research group (10 assistant professors/ postdocs and >20 PhD students) is truly multidisciplinary: persons with diverse backgrounds (psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, epidemiology, mathematics, data science, sociology) together examine the etiology, treatment and consequences of depressive and anxiety disorders. More than 40 students have already obtained their PhD-degree under her supervision. Penninx has published over 800 international articles, which are well cited (>50,000 citations, H-index>110). In 2016, Brenda Penninx has been elected as member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and Arts (KNAW). 

In addition to her leading the NESDA project, she has been involved in several other Dutch and international cohort and intervention studies over the last 20 years. Central themes in her research are understanding psychosocial, environmental, somatic, genetic and neurobiological risk factors and consequences of depression and anxiety disorders and how to intervene on these to improve mental health. Penninx participates e.g. in the EU-funded MoodFood, Lifebrain, PRISM and RADAR-CNS projects.

The intergenerational transmission of stress and resilience will be studied in the longitudinal multi-site MARIO project. The treatment response antidepressants and the efficacy of antidepressant discontinuation, will be the theme of the soon-to-start OPERA project.

Finally, to better understand the impact of daily-life stress, Penninx recently established the Stress-in-Action (SiA) Consortium. Its goal is to enable synergistic collaborations to discover how daily-life stress can be reliably measured, how it determines health, how individual variation impacts on daily-life stress, and how to intervene in a personalized manner on daily-life stress. Brenda Penninx is the Coordinator of this Consortium.

Contact information

Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc

Department of Psychiatry / GGZ inGeest
Oldenaller 1, 1081 HL Amsterdam, The Netherlands
T: (+)31-(0)20-7885674