Mats Nagel

PhD student
Team Member

Short CV

2014 – currentPhD candidate at the Complex Trait Genetics Lab, CNCR, Amsterdam UMC
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, since the items or symptoms collectively operationalizing one trait can be very diverse in nature. Depending on how genetically similar items or symptoms underlying a trait are, using a composite score may not be an optimal approach if the aim is to unravel the biological background.

In this project, we acknowledge the complexity of behaviour. We aim to conduct analyses on symptoms or items underlying psychiatric disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety) and psychological traits (e.g. neuroticism), and contrast the results to the traditional approach of using a composite measure. Eventually, this may aid in constructing genetically coherent subdimensions that can be used as targets of investigation in future studies.


Contact info


VU/Amsterdam UMC
Dept. of Complex Trait Genetics
De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Room B-636


+31 20 59 82959