Netherlands, Amsterdam

Nature & Nurture: Twin Research and Human Genetics

when 5 August 2017 - 19 August 2017
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 ECTS
fee EUR 1000

Do twins hold the key to understanding complex human traits and diseases? Can they resolve the age-old debate between nature and nurture? What is determined by our DNA, what comes from our environment? Thanks to recent technological advances, we are closer than ever to explaining where our individual differences come from. Our ability to map human DNA at high resolution in large populations is now enabling us to link genetic variation to traits and disease at the molecular level.

This interdisciplinary course puts you at the forefront of these exciting and important developments. You focus on twins to explore the interplay of genes and environment in determining behaviour, lifestyle and health.

Uniquely, you gain hands-on access to the world-renowned Netherlands Twin Register at VU Amsterdam – one of the largest longitudinal databases of its kind. Your tutors are scientists closely associated with this core asset, the people who collect the information and work with it on a daily basis to unravel the genetic etiology of a wide range of medical conditions and personal characteristics. They train you in working with twin data and information from genomics and epigenetics.

You learn how to collect material on behaviour and health and how to use molecular data to better understand the path from genetics to medicine. Naturally, we also cover the theoretical and philosophical background to help you interpret genetic studies, understand effective methods and designs and increase your understanding of complex human traits.

Course leader

Dr. Abdel Abdellaoui, Prof. dr Dorret I. Boomsma, Prof. Eco J. C. de Geus, Prof. Meike Bartels, Prof. Conor Dolan, Michel Nivard PhD, Jenny van Dongen PhD and others

Target group

Advanced Bachelor’s/Master’s

Students interested in the rapidly evolving field of human genetics, especially those aspiring to join its international research community.

Course aim

Learning objectives:

• You understand and can interpret results from genetic studies of complex human behavioural traits.
• You understand the current state of human genetics research in a historical perspective and can contribute to discussions about gene-environment interaction.
• You can analyse genetically informative twin and family data.
• You understand the assessment and diagnosis of traits and phenotypes.
• You can work with multiple “-omics” data: genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics (gene expression) and microbiomics.

Credits info

50 contact hours

Fee info

EUR 1000: Included in the tuition fee are:

• Airport pick-up service
• Orientation programme
• Course excursions
• On-site support
• 24/7 emergency assistance
• Transcript of records after completion of the course


• Early bird discount of €150
• €250 discount for students from partner universities.
• 10 scholarships available that cover the full tuition fee of one course.
• Combine 2 courses: €100 discount
• Combine 3 courses: €200 discount

Register for this course
on course website