Personal Page | Prof. dr. Eco de Geus

The leitmotiv of my research is the psychophysiological study of individual differences in behaviour and health. Controlled experiments and genetic epidemiological strategies are used to test contribution of genes, stress and regular exercise to cardiovascular health and mental health. Mental health is studied by a variety of survey measures and diagnostic interviews. Cardiovascular health is studied in the laboratory by recording cardiovascular, hormonal and metabolic responses to standardized conditions, and in “real life” by using ambulatory measurements of blood pressure, cortisol, and the autonomic nervous system with the VU University Ambulatory Monitoring System (VU-AMS, This is a system that I developed for 24-hour recordings of peripheral physiology to study stress and emotion in naturalistic settings. In the study of mental and cardiovascular health a genetic perspective is introduced by means of longitudinal twin family designs and molecular genetic approaches, including whole-genome association using SNPs or CpGs. The causes and consequences of stress and regular exerciser behaviour are current areas of research interest. In these areas I emphasize the gene-environment correlation and interaction perspectives, e.g. by looking explicitly also at gene-stress and gene-exercise interactions, and the use of genetically informative prospective studies to unravel causality, e.g. between regular exercise and mental health.

Prof. dr. Eco de Geus

Genetic Epidemiology, Department of Psychiatry , Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

#Stress #Sports & Exercise #Cardiovascular Disease #Ambulatory

Key publications

  1. van der Mee DJ, Gevonden MJ, Westerink JHDM, de Geus EJC. Cardiorespiratory fitness, regular physical activity, and autonomic nervous system reactivity to laboratory and daily life stress. Psychophysiology. 2022 Nov 15:e14212.



  1. de Geus EJC. Genetic Pathways Underlying Individual Differences in Regular Physical Activity. Exercise Sport Science Reviews 2022 Sep 1. doi: 10.1249/JES.0000000000000305. 



  1. Marees, A.T., Smit, D.J.A., Abdellaoui, A., Nivard, M.G., van den Brink, W., Denys, D., Galama, T., Verweij, K.J.H.*, & Derks, E.M.* (2021). Genetic correlates of socio-economic status influence the pattern of shared heritability across mental health traits. Nature Human Behaviour, 5; 1065–1073. *Joint last author.


  1. van der Zee MD, Helmer Q, Boomsma DI, Dolan CV, de Geus EJC. An Extended Twin-Pedigree Study of Different Classes of Voluntary Exercise Behavior. Behavior Genetics 2020;  50(2):94-104. doi: 10.1007/s10519-019-09990-7



  1. Nolte IM,  […]  den Hoed M, Snieder H, de Geus EJC. Genetic loci associated with heart rate variability and their effects on cardiac disease risk. Nature Communications. 2017; 14(8):15805.


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