Personal Page | Dr. Jenny van Dongen

Dr. van Dongen is an Assistant Professor at the department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), specialized in epigenetics  of complex traits. Dr. van Dongen’s research is at the intersection of human genetics and epigenetics and combines DNA methylation analysis with twin- and family methodology. Her studies focus on genetic and environmental influences on DNA methylation and epigenome-wide studies (EWAS) of complex traits. In the past years, she has led a few large epigenome-wide association study (EWAS) meta-analyses. Recent and ongoing projects include studies of the epigenetics of twinning, cigarette smoking, cannabis use, educational attainment, handedness, breast feeding, and behavioral problems, notably ADHD and aggression.

Dr. Jenny van Dongen

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department Biological Psychology

#Epigenetics #DNA methylation #Twin studies

Key publications


  1. van Dongen, J., Slagboom, P. E., Draisma, H. H. M., Martin, N. G. & Boomsma, D. I. The continuing value of twin studies in the omics era. Nat Rev Genet 13, 640–653 (2012). Link

  2. van Dongen, J. et al. Genetic and environmental influences interact with age and sex in shaping the human methylome. Nat. Commun. 7, 11115 (2016). Link
  3. van Dongen, J. et al. Epigenome-wide Association Study of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms in Adults. Biol. Psychiatry 56, 599–607 (2019). Link

  1. van Dongen, J. et al. DNA methylation signatures of aggression and closely related constructs: A meta-analysis of epigenome-wide studies across the lifespan. Mol. Psychiatry (2021). Link
  2. van Dongen, J. et al. Identical twins carry a persistent epigenetic signature of early genome programming. Nat. Commun. 12, (2021). Link

Grants and awards

















BGA Travel award from the Behavior Genetics Association (BGA) to present MSc. internship project on attention problems and motor control at the 2009 BGA conference in Minneapolis, USA.

Scholarship from the Honors exchange programme of the Master of Neurosciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam & Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Thompson Award for best oral presentation by a PhD student (awarded by the             Behavior Genetics Association; BGA). Title of presentation: The contribution of the functional IL6R polymorphism rs2228145, eQTLs and other genome-wide SNPs to the heritability of plasma sIL-6R levels. Presented at the BGA conference, Marseille, France.

Talent Grant from the VU Faculty of Behaviour and Movement Sciences for an international work visit to the Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Finalist for the national New Scientist Science Talent Award, The Netherlands

Innovation grant from Amsterdam Public Health Personalized Medicine. Project title: Epigenetics in Asthma: a role for Personalized Medicine.

Mental Health Award from the Amsterdam Public Health Institute for the research on epigenetics and aggressive behavior, presented at the World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics in Glasgow, Scotland 2018.

Scholarship from the Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut te Rome & Istituto Svizzero to attend an international workshop on leadership in Academia, Rome, Italy (including grant for travel and accommodation) for a select group of female academics who promise to develop into potential leaders.

2022 AR&D Move Forward Research grant from the Amsterdam Reproduction and Development Institute. Project title: Epigenetic signature of monozygotic twinning: a tool to study the vanishing twin syndrome and genetic influences on twinning.

All publications