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Our research aims to innovate and optimize the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of severe mental health disorders in a medical context.

About our Department

Our research

Mission statement

Our mission is to innovate and optimise the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of severe mental health disorders in a medical context. The research conducted herein comprises applied, clinical and translational studies. 

Overall research description

Brain disorders should be considered one of the 21st century’s top global health challenges as they constitute the largest burden of disease, both within Europe and worldwide (Wittchen, 2011).

Our understanding of the underlying etiology and pathophysiology of mental illness is necessary to create healthy changes for future generations. Yet, the study of the human brain is often challenging and difficult due to high complexity of this organ and the multifactorial nature of emotions and cognition.

Furthermore, the stigma of mental illness remains a profoundly significant barrier to early-intervention and treatment continuity, thereby perpetuating the consequences of psychiatric illness for patients, families, healthcare providers, and society.

Therefore, to address these complementary and interconnected aspects of mental illness, our department has undertaken specific areas of intense research focus within our research program from 'bench to bedside to society'.

  • Neurobiology of Mood & Psychotic Disorders
  • Applied social and forensic psychiatry
  • Medical psychology

Research Lines

Research Lines, Groups and Labs 

Our scientific research is organized into main Research Lines Groups that are distinguished by their complementary methodological approaches.

The Research Lines Groups cooperate naturally. Applied Social and Forensic Psychiatry applies neurobiological (biomarker and genetic) approaches in collaboration with our laboratory of Neurobiology of Mood & Psychotic Disorders. Mood (and its medical perspectives) is also often a study focus area in the Medical Psychology Research Line. 

Detailed information about our research can be found on our separate website: psych.erasmusmc.nl



Difficult-to-engage patients

This area involves studies related to treatment motivation and the prevention of coercion. Motivation is studied for treatment as it relates to treatment outcome and coercion.

Forensic psychiatry

Our research focuses on the various biological, psychological and social factors involved in the predisposition to, onset of, and maintenance of common psychiatric disorders that accompany the risk of criminal offending.

Psychological aspects of living kidney donation

Together with the Department of Internal Medicine, the Department of Psychiatry is a leading global institute in the facilitation of living kidney donation.

Quality of life

The department has a long tradition of measuring health-related quality of life, of which the EQ-5D is our current focus.

The GEZIN study

The GEZIN study (Genetische Zoektocht in Neuropsychiatrische stoornissen) involves family-based, case-control and population-based epidemiological genomic discovery to identify novel genetic determinants of mental health outcomes.

The iBerry study

In 2015, the iBerry Study was started to learn more about social, emotional and behavioral development during adolescence.

The OPPER study

The OPPER study is the world largest cohort of first-onset postpartum psychosis, and includes both longitudinal clinical assessments and biological studies.

The UP'S study

The UP’S study assesses the determinants of personal, clinical and social recovery in a group of 600 psychotic disorder patients treated in out-reaching mental health care teams over a ten-year period.


Information about our publications can be found on our separate website: psych.erasmusmc.nl


Erasmus Centre for Animal Research (EDC) 

The research group Neurobiology of Mood & Psychotic Disorders makes extensive use of the EDC facilities for the transgenic mouse modelling of psychiatric disorders, including behavioural, imaging and electrophysiological studies. 

The Generation R Study

Multiple research lines within the department collaborate closely with the Generation R facility in areas such as the iBerry study. The research group Neurobiology of Mood & Psychotic Disorders participates in research on genomic data, brain imaging and mental health outcomes. 


The Neurobiology of Mood & Psychotic Disorders group works closely with the genomics facility at the Erasmus MC for microarray genotyping, whole exome sequencing and RNA sequencing.

iPS Facility

The research group Neurobiology of Mood & Psychotic Disorders collaborates closely with the iPS Facility in areas such as patient cellular reprogramming and neural lineage differentiation. 


The faculty of Neurobiology of Mood & Psychotic Disorders has conducted several projects in collaboration with the Proteomics facility.


Regional and national collaborations 

Dutch ministries expect University Medical Centers to play a regional and national coordinating role. This position provides us with the opportunity to involve other regional and national partners in our research, giving us the necessary financial and statistical critical mass to conduct our studies.

Neurobiology of Mood & Psychotic Disorders has a strong national collaboration through the Institute for Human Organ and Disease Model Technologies. Here, prof. Kushner is the theme coordinator for brain-on-chip projects and member of the Netherlands Organ-on-Chip Initiative (NOCI) NOW Gravitation award consortium.

Prof. van Busschbach has a strong history of cooperation with the Erasmus School of Health Policy and Management for the EQ-5D questionnaire and other quality of life research. Applied Social and Forensic Psychiatry has extensive collaboration with regional mental health care providers, which offers strong academic support for regional community mental health centers. 

International collaborations 

We have built a strong collaborative network of institutes. Kings College London and the University of Oslo are important partners in the prevention of coercion and outpatient psychiatry, while the University of Sydney collaborates with us on the Mental Health Living Longer Project.

Moreover, we participate in a large international consortium (ICHOMS) for determining internationally-standardised criteria for key performance indicators for psychosis. We work closely with scientists from the Champalimaud Foundation Neuroscience Program (Lisbon) on advanced methodologies for in vivo imaging, with Columbia University (New York, USA) regarding functional genomic analyses, with Ben Gurion University (Israel) on the ascertainment of consanguineous families with Mendelian patterns of severe mental illness, and with the University of Toronto (Canada) on human-induced pluripotent stem cell modelling.

Regarding peripartum psychiatry, we collaborate closely with Mount Sinai (New York, USA), the university of Aarhus (Denmark) and the NIH (Bethesda, USA).

Prof. Kushner also serves as the Netherlands representative to the Federation of the European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) Council, and has leading roles in several European Commission grants (PerMed, NEURON and FET-CONNECT). Prof. van Busschbach is the chair of the international EuroQol Group, and leads research for the EQ-5D questionnaire.

BSc and MSc students

Research projects for students 

The master thesis phase provides an unique opportunity for both medical and non-medical (psychology, remedial education, and other related studies) students to come in touch with medical science. Master students are welcome to participate in current research at the department of Psychiatry of the Erasmus MC.

Specific information about requirements of the master thesis projects for medical students can be found on: Masteronderzoek Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

Both medical and non-medical students can apply for the projects described below. For medical students: all topics have the approval of the OSC of the Erasmus MC (See also Projectendatabase of the Erasmus University Rotterdam or the separate website of the Research Department of Psychiatry, Erasmus MC).  


Other topics in the field of clinical, neurobiological, social, forensic, or epidemiological psychiatry can be formulated after consultation with the Master Thesis Coordinator of the department of Psychiatry Dr. N. Grootendorst – van Mil. Email: n.grootendorst@erasmusmc.nl

For specific topics in Medical Psychology: students interested in the field of psycho-oncology, stress and PTSD in patients in a medical setting may contact Dr. L.W. Kranenburg Email: l.kranenburg@erasmusmc.nl for information on research paper opportunities on these topics.




Fitriana T.S.

(Co)promotor(s): Busschbach van J.J., Stolk E., Purba F.D.
PhD Thesis EUR, 12-03-2024.


Improving efficacy and preventing relaps'

Pluijms E.M.

(Co)promotor(s): Hoogendijk W.J.G., Broek van den W.W., Birkenhäger T.K.
PhD Thesis EUR, 31-05-2023.


'Factors Influencing Acces to Kidney Transplantation (FIAT)
a business ecosysteem approach as a solution'

Merweland van R.G.

(Co)promotor(s): Busschbach van J.J., Ismail S.Y., Wetering van de J.
PhD Thesis EUR, 11-05-2023.


'Sensory processing and psychopathology: a forensic perspective'

Boogert van den F.J.K.

(Co)promotor(s): Hoogendijk W.J.G., Roza SJ.
PhD Thesis EUR, 18-04-2023.


'Unveiling myelination mechanisms in schizophrenia'

García M.P.

(Co)promotor(s): Hijazi S., Kushner S.A.
PhD Thesis EUR, 17-03-2023



'Kidney Team at Home: National Implementation and Cost-effectiveness'

Redeker S.

(Co)promotor(s): Busschbach van J.J., Reinders M.E.J., Ismail S.Y., Massey E.K.
PhD Thesis EUR, 06-12-2022


'Patient-Reported Outcomes on Quality of Life in Ophthalmology'

Visser M.S.

(Co)promotor(s): Busschbach van J.J., Timman R.
PhD Thesis EUR, 15-11-2022

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Oxytocin, vasopressin and human behavior'

Berends Y.R.

(Co)promotor(s): Kushner S.A., Marle van H.J.C., Tulen J.H.M.
PhD Thesis EUR, 03-11-2022

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'The Voices of Many:
Psychotic experiences in young people from the general population'

Steenkamp L.R.

(Co)promotor(s): Tiemeijer H.W., Kushner S.A., Bolhuis K., Blanken L.M.E.
PhD Thesis EUR, 19-10-2022

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'Neurophysiological Measures to Asses Cognitive Functioning in Neurofibromatosis Type 1'

Castricum J.

(Co)promotor(s): Elgersma Y., Tulen J.H.M.
PhD Thesis EUR, 26-04-2022

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'The Impact of Treatment Intensity Mentalization-Based Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder: effects, costs and predictors'

Smits M.L.

(Co)promotor(s): Busschbach van J.J., Luyten P., Verheul R., Feenstra D.J.
PhD Thesis EUR, 01-04-2022

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Understanding the biology of schizophrenia by functional investigations and integrative genomic data analyses'

Ori A.P.S.

(Co)promotor(s): Ophoff R.A., Kushner S.A.
PhD Thesis EUR, 15-02-2022

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Organization, Costs, and Effects'

Jansen L.A.W.

(Co)promotor(s): Busschbach van J.J., Schijndel van M.A.
PhD Thesis EUR, 03-02-2022

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Consequences for development: from conception to childhood'

Poels E.M.P.

(Co)promotor(s): Hoogendijk W.J.G., Bergink V., White T.J.H.
PhD Thesis EUR, 19-01-2022

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Dissertations in recent years 

Dissertations in recent years can be found on our separate website: psych.erasmusmc.nl

About our Department

About our Department

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