The Cognomics Project

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Home News and Results Newsflash Nijmegen researchers from the Cognomics Initiative identify new genes for brain structure

Nijmegen researchers from the Cognomics Initiative identify new genes for brain structure

An international study, which included over 20 researchers from the Cognomics Initiative, has identified several new genes that influence the size of our brain.

Prof. Barbara Franke is one of the senior authors of the paper, which appeared in Nature on January 22, Dr. Alejandro Arias Vasquez was part of the core analysis team for this study, in which 193 different institutes from around the world took part.

The published study is unique, as brain scans of over 30.000 participants were analysed. ‘We have identified genetic factors that help us to better understand the differences in brain development that exist between people’ says Franke, who is a co-founder of the ENIGMA Consortium (, the initiator of the published study. ‘We founded ENIGMA in 2009, with the idea of creating an environment, in which researchers across the entire world could easily work together on the genetics of brain structure. This worked excellently, as we use a ‘crowd-sourcing’ approach, in which we develop protocols for analysis centrally, then send them out to all participating groups, which thus can perform their analysis themselves. So rather than collecting original data from the participating groups, we only ask them to send us their results, which we subsequently combine. In this way, all groups can stay closely involved in a project.’. The Cognomics Initiative, which is part of the Donders Institute, and is chaired by Prof. Franke and Prof. Simon Fisher from the Max Planck Institute, is one of the biggest contributor to the ENIGMA efforts.


The Cognomics and ENIGMA studies can be expected to provide more insight into the causes and mechanisms underlying different brain disorders. ENIGMA is currently comparing their results to those of genetics research of brain disorders. In this way, data of more than 70.000 research participants is being studied. Results of this research can be expected later this year.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 March 2015 21:04