Mats Nagel

PhD student
Team Member

Short CV

2014 – currentPhD candidate at the Complex Trait Genetics Lab, CNCR, VU University Medical Centre
2012 – 2014Statistics teacher at the University of Amsterdam, Department of Psychology & the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies
2010 – 2012Master Psychological Methods at the University of Amsterdam [Cum laude]
2006 – 2010Bachelor Psychology at the University of Amsterdam

PhD project: Modeling the dynamics of behaviour

Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) have boosted the gene-finding enterprise, and made important contributions to medicine and pharmaceutics. However, overall the yield has been lower than expected. Only a limited number of genetic variants have been discovered for heritable complex traits (e.g., intelligence, MDD, ADHD, autism, schizophrenia) and even these genetic variants usually account for very little phenotypic variance.

A reason for the relatively low yield of GWAS may lie in the way behaviour is conceptualized. Often phenotypic data (e.g. items on a personality test, symptoms from the DSM-IV) are reduced to a univariate composite score, such as a sumscore. Although this makes analyses computationally feasible, information about the complexity of the behaviour may be lost in the process. In addition, behaviour is often regarded as stable, overlooking the fact that many behaviours change over time within individuals (e.g. developmental processes, switches between psychiatric states).

In this project we want to acknowledge the complexity, and specifically the dynamics of behaviour. We aim to create a more realistic conceptualization of the phenotype, and to translate this into new, testable models (or extend existing models). Eventually these new models may increase the likelihood of finding causal GV’s.

Contact info


Dept. of Complex Trait Genetics
De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, Netherlands
room B-636


+31 20 59 82959