dr. M. (Marco) Boks

Associate Professor - medical

  • Psychiatry

dr. M. (Marco) Boks

Research Programs


Genetic, epigenetic and epidemiological studies of Gene- Environment interplay

The main theme of my research is how our genetic background shapes the influence of the environmental risk for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 

 The idea that psychiatric disorders develop as a result of the interaction between genes and environment is generally supported. However methodological challenges of such studies have limited large scale genome wide efforts. Therefore studies that focus on the interaction between environmental risk and genetic background remain timely and necessary.

 However such genetic studies do not take into account  a more subtle but highly relevant molecular mechanisms of interactions between environment and genes that recently is identified as a key mechanism of adaptation. These mechanisms, referred to as epigenetics, are extensive and complex and to date not fully understood. Central to our understanding is that epigenetic mechanisms influences transcription of DNA by modifying access to the DNA sequences. What makes this line of research extra interesting is the potential for pharmaceutical manipulation.

To focus these studies we have chosen cannabis and trauma as a main environmental exposure. In addition to genetic variation as a modifier of environmental risk we study gene expression and DNA methylation levels. DNA methylation is central in gene-environment interaction as epigenetic silencing of risk genes is partly under the influence of environmental exposures of the probands as well as the mother. This work is supported by a NARSAD young investigators award and a Neuroscience and Cognition Utrecht stipendium. We are currently conducting a study on the influence of maternal famine in China on schizophrenia risk  and investigate epigenetic modification of the stress response in relationship with post-traumatic stress- and bipolar disorder. 

Specialties: Psychiatry, epigenetics, genetics, bio-informatics

Research line


Most recent key publications

1: van Gastel WA, MacCabe JH, Schubart CD, Vreeker A, Tempelaar W, Kahn RS, Boks MP. Cigarette smoking is equally strongly associated with Psychotic-Like experiences as Cannabis Use: a cross-sectional study in young Adults. Psychological Medicine 2013 Feb 18
2: Boks MP. Progress in gene environment studies. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Nov 15;72(10):799-800.
3: Boks MP, de Jong NM, Kas MJ, Vinkers CH, Fernandes C, Kahn RS, Mill J, Ophoff RA. Current status and future prospects for epigenetic psychopharmacology. Epigenetics. 2012 Jan 1;7(1).
4: Boks MP, Derks EM, Weisenberger DJ, Strengman E, Janson E, Sommer IE, Kahn RS, Ophoff RA. The relationship of DNA methylation with age, gender and genotype in twins and healthy controls. PLoS One. 2009 Aug 26;4(8):e6767.
5: Van Gastel WA, Tempelaar W, Bun C, Schubart CD, Kahn RS, Plevier C , Boks MPM. Cannabis Use as an Indicator of Risk for Mental Health Problems in Adolescents: a population-based study at secondary schools Psychological Medicine 2012 Dec 3:1-8

Fellowship and Awards

  • 1:  NARSAD Young Investigator Award 2010
    2: Semel Institute of Neuroscience, 2009 Phenomics Travel Award

Research Output (187)

The Role of Stress and Mineralocorticoid Receptor Haplotypes in the Development of Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety During Adolescence

Endedijk Hinke M., Nelemans Stefanie A., Schür Remmelt R., Boks Marco P.M., Lier Pol van, Meeus Wim, Branje Susan, Vinkers Christiaan H. 15 mei 2020, In: Frontiers in Psychiatry. 11 10 p.

International meta-analysis of PTSD genome-wide association studies identifies sex- and ancestry-specific genetic risk loci

Nievergelt Caroline M., Maihofer Adam X., Klengel Torsten, Atkinson Elizabeth G., Chen Chia Yen, Choi Karmel W., Coleman Jonathan R.I., Dalvie Shareefa, Duncan Laramie E., Gelernter Joel, Levey Daniel F., Logue Mark W., Polimanti Renato, Provost Allison C., Ratanatharathorn Andrew, Stein Murray B., Torres Katy, Aiello Allison E., Almli Lynn M., Amstadter Ananda B., Andersen Søren B., Andreassen Ole A., Arbisi Paul A., Ashley-Koch Allison E., Austin S. Bryn, Avdibegovic Esmina, Babić Dragan, Bækvad-Hansen Marie, Baker Dewleen G., Beckham Jean C., Bierut Laura J., Bisson Jonathan I., Boks Marco P., Bolger Elizabeth A., Børglum Anders D., Bradley Bekh, Brashear Megan, Breen Gerome, Bryant Richard A., Bustamante Angela C., Bybjerg-Grauholm Jonas, Calabrese Joseph R., Caldas-de-Almeida José M., Dale Anders M., Geuze Elbert, Luykx Jurjen J., Rutten Bart P.F., Schijven Dick, Vermetten Eric, Vinkers Christiaan H., 1 dec 2019, In: Nature Communications. 10 1 p.

Circulating Serum MicroRNAs as Potential Diagnostic Biomarkers of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder:A Pilot Study

Snijders Clara, Krauskopf Julian, Pishva Ehsan, Eijssen Lars, Machiels Barbie, Kleinjans Jos, Kenis Gunter, van den Hove Daniel, Kim Myeong Ok, Boks Marco P.M., Vinkers Christiaan H., Vermetten Eric, Geuze Elbert, Rutten Bart P.F., de Nijs Laurence 22 nov 2019, In: Frontiers in Genetics. 10 10 p.

The association between antibodies to neurotropic pathogens and bipolar disorder:A study in the Dutch Bipolar (DB) Cohort and meta-analysis

Snijders Gijsje J.L.J., van Mierlo Hans C., Boks Marco P., Begemann Marieke J.H., Sutterland Arjen L., Litjens Manja, Ophoff Roel A., Kahn René S., de Witte Lot D. 20 nov 2019, In: Translational Psychiatry. 9 13 p.

Evolutionary modifications in human brain connectivity associated with schizophrenia

van den Heuvel Martijn P, Scholtens Lianne H, de Lange Siemon C, Pijnenburg Rory, Cahn Wiepke, van Haren Neeltje E M, Sommer Iris E, Bozzali Marco, Koch Kathrin, Boks Marco P, Repple Jonathan, Pievani Michela, Li Longchuan, Preuss Todd M, Rilling James K 14 nov 2019, In: Brain : a journal of neurology. 142 , p. 3991-4002 12 p.

Genetic architecture of subcortical brain structures in 38,851 individuals

Satizabal Claudia L., Adams Hieab H.H., Hibar Derrek P., White Charles C., Knol Maria J., Stein Jason L., Scholz Markus, Sargurupremraj Muralidharan, Jahanshad Neda, Roshchupkin Gennady V., Smith Albert V., Bis Joshua C., Jian Xueqiu, Luciano Michelle, Hofer Edith, Teumer Alexander, van der Lee Sven J., Yang Jingyun, Yanek Lisa R., Lee Tom V., Li Shuo, Hu Yanhui, Koh Jia Yu, Eicher John D., Desrivières Sylvane, Arias-Vasquez Alejandro, Chauhan Ganesh, Athanasiu Lavinia, Rentería Miguel E., Kim Sungeun, Hoehn David, Armstrong Nicola J., Chen Qiang, Holmes Avram J., den Braber Anouk, Kloszewska Iwona, Andersson Micael, Abramovic Lucija, Bohlken Marc M., Klein Marieke, Boks Marco P., van Eijk Kristel R., Cahn Wiepke, Hulshoff Pol Hilleke E., Ikram M. Kamran, Brouwer Rachel M., Kahn René S., Ophoff Roel A., van Haren Neeltje E.M., Schmidt Reinhold, 1 nov 2019, In: Nature Genetics. 51 , p. 1624-1636 13 p.

Multivariate genome-wide analysis of stress-related quantitative phenotypes

Schijven Dick, Geuze Elbert, Vinkers Christiaan H., Pulit Sara L., Schür Remmelt R., Malgaz Marie, Bekema Erwin, Medic Jelena, van der Kust Kendrick E., Veldink Jan H., Boks Marco P., Vermetten Eric, Luykx Jurjen J. 9 okt 2019, In: European Neuropsychopharmacology. 29 , p. 1354-1364 11 p.

Shared vulnerability for connectome alterations across psychiatric and neurological brain disorders

de Lange Siemon C., Scholtens Lianne H., van den Berg Leonard H., Boks Marco P., Bozzali Marco, Cahn Wiepke, Dannlowski Udo, Durston Sarah, Geuze Elbert, van Haren Neeltje E.M., Hillegers Manon H.J., Koch Kathrin, Jurado María Ángeles, Mancini Matteo, Marqués-Iturria Idoia, Meinert Susanne, Ophoff Roel A., Reess Tim J., Repple Jonathan, Kahn René S., van den Heuvel Martijn P., 5 aug 2019, In: NATURE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR. 3 , p. 988-998 11 p.

Neurons and glial cells in bipolar disorder:A systematic review of postmortem brain studies of cell number and size

Gigase Frederieke A.J., Snijders Gijsje J.L.J., Boks Marco P., de Witte Lot D. 1 aug 2019, In: Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 103 , p. 150-162 13 p.

Accelerating research on biological aging and mental health:Current challenges and future directions

Han Laura K.M., Verhoeven Josine E., Tyrka Audrey R., Penninx Brenda W.J.H., Wolkowitz Owen M., Månsson Kristoffer N.T., Lindqvist Daniel, Boks Marco P., Révész Dóra, Mellon Synthia H., Picard Martin 1 aug 2019, In: Psychoneuroendocrinology. 106 , p. 293-311 19 p.

All Research Output (187)