Complex Genetics

Genetic and Life-course Epidemiology

twinsHuman development and health requires an environment that is both protected and protective from conception till adulthood.

The Genetic and Life-Course Epidemiology research line aims to identify environmental factors acting across the life course to influence health and disease, and to disentangle how genetic variation accounts for differential responses to these factors. Such knowledge will provide policy- and decision-makers with a strong evidence base for intervention strategies and recommendations to protect human health

Our interdisciplinary team has state-of-the art expertise in genetics and lifestyle epidemiology. We specialize in cohort research examining the health impacts of multiple environmental and genetic factors prospectively, in twin research disentangling nature and nurture, and in systematic reviews and meta-analysis summarising current knowledge. Our findings are directly translated to the market via Sport Potential and Health Potential.

Ongoing research projects

  • A world consortium of 87 studies on telomere length versus health (TELOMAAS)
  • East Flanders Prospective Twin Cohort Study (EFPTS)
  • Birmingham Twin and Heritability Study (BIRTHS)
  • TAMBA Heritability Study (TAMBAHS)
  • On the origin of healthy food consumption and physical activity: a consortium of international twin studies (FOODTWINS)
  • Maastricht Essential Fatty Acid Birth (MEFAB) cohort study
  • Mother-Child RHEA study

Team leader

Nikos Stratakis

PhD Programmes

GLE1: Twin Research (Marij Gielen)
GLE2: Birth Cohorts (Nikos Stratakis)
GLE3: Personalised Genetics (Anke Wesselius)
GLE4: Biological Determinants of Learning (Renate de Groot)

Last 5 publications

1. Bijnens EM, Nawrot TS, Loos RJ, et al. Blood pressure in young adulthood and residential greenness in the early-life environment of twins. Environ Health 2017;16:53.
2. Christou AI, Wallis Y, Bair H, et al. Serotonin 5-HTTLPR Genotype Modulates Reactive Visual Scanning of Social and Non-social Affective Stimuli in Young Children. Front Behav Neurosci 2017;11:118.
3. Stewart KFJ, Wesselius A, Schreurs MAC, et al. Behavioural changes, sharing behaviour and psychological responses after receiving direct-to-consumer genetic test results: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Community Genet 2017.
4. Stratakis N, Roumeliotaki T, Oken E, et al. Fish and seafood consumption during pregnancy and the risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis in childhood: a pooled analysis of 18 European and US birth cohorts. Int J Epidemiol 2017.
5.  O'Callaghan-Gordo C, Kogevinas M, Fthenou E, et al. Vitamin D insufficient levels during pregnancy and micronuclei frequency in peripheral blood T lymphocytes mothers and newborns (Rhea cohort, Crete). Clin Nutr 2017;36:1029-35.