Prof. dr. D.A.J.P. Denys

Main activities
Research, Patient care
Focus of research

Since my employment as PhD student at the University of Utrecht my research focused on obsessive compulsive (spectrum) disorders. OCD was approached from diverse perspectives by means of different methodological tools. One perspective covers OCD from clinical viewpoint and inquires its nosological status. Is OCD a discrete psychiatric disorder or does it represent different clinical subtypes? Another part encompasses randomized clinical trials and aimed to contribute to the pharmacological management of OCD. Is switching drugs in case of non-response to treatment a useful strategy for patients with OCD? Can we identify clinical characteristics that predict a favorable treatment response with pharmacotherapy? Is addition of an atypical antipsychotic to a serotonergic reuptake inhibitor beneficial for treatment-resistant OCD patients? Another perspective addresses OCD from etiological perspective and investigates the role of neurotransmitters in OCD. What is the effect of the combination of an atypical antipsychotic to a serotonergic reuptake inhibitor on dopamine and serotonin levels in different (rat) brain areas? Can we find in vivo evidence for the involvement of the dopamine system in OCD through imaging-studies? Is there an association between specific genotypes of dopamine or serotonergic genes and OCD? Currently, my research focuses on the applicability of deep brain stimulation in OCD and psychiatric disorders.

Key publications
  • Bergfeld IO, Mantione M, Hoogendoorn MLC, Ruhé HG , Notten P, van Laarhoven J, Visser I , Figee M, de Kwaasteniet BP, Horst F, Schene AH, van den Munckhof P, Beute G, Schuurman R, Denys D, Deep Brain Stimulation of the Ventral Anterior Limb of the Internal Capsule for Treatment-Resistant Depression: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA PSYCHIAT 2016;73 (5):456-464 [PubMed]
  • Aleman A, Denys D, A road map for suicide research and prevention. NATURE 2014;509 (7501):421-423 [PubMed]
  • Denys D, Mantione M, Figee M, van den Munckhof P, Koerselman F, Westenberg H, Bosch A, Schuurman R, Deep Brain Stimulation of the Nucleus Accumbens for Treatment-Refractory Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. ARCH GEN PSYCHIAT 2010;67 (10):1061-1068 [PubMed]
  • Figee M, Luigjes J, Smolders R, Valencia-Alfonso CE, van Wingen G, de Kwaasteniet B, Mantione M, Ooms P, de Koning P, Vulink N, Levar N, Droge L, van den Munckhof P, Schuurman PR, Nederveen A, van den Brink W, Mazaheri A, Vink M, Denys D, Deep brain stimulation restores frontostriatal network activity in obsessive-compulsive disorder. NAT NEUROSCI 2013;16 (4):386-387 [PubMed]
  • Figee M, Vink M, de Geus F, Vulink N, Veltman DJ, Westenberg H, Denys D, Dysfunctional Reward Circuitry in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. BIOL PSYCHIAT 2011;69 (9):867-874 [PubMed]
All Publications
Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae



                           Titles, initials, name:                    Prof. Dr. D.A.J.P. (Damiaan) Denys

Date and place of birth:               9 November 1965, Wevelgem, Belgium

Nationality:                                     Belgian
Married to:                                      Katrien van Wijnendaele

Children:                                          Elias, Sebastiaan, Jasper

Address:                                           Academic Medical Center (AMC) of the

      University of Amsterdam

      Department of Psychiatry (room PA.2-179)

      Meibergdreef 5, 1105 AZ Amsterdam

Postal address:                               PO Box 22660, 1100 DD Amsterdam  

Phone:                                               +31-20-8913899






Research focus


Damiaan Denys conducts psychiatric research into anxiety, impulsive and compulsive disorders. His scientific research is characterized by a translational approach and makes use of clinical psychiatry, philosophy and neuroscience. A particular focus of his research is the development of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, addiction and eating disorders.


Academic Achievements


2007 - current             Professor of Psychiatry (Kernhooglereaar)
University of Amsterdam (UvA), Amsterdam, Netherlands


2009 – current            Team leader of research group ‘Neuromodulation and Behaviour’
Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN),
an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Amsterdam, Netherlands


2004 - 2007                  Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
University Medical Centre (UMC) Utrecht, Netherlands


2000 - 2004                 PhD in Psychiatry – cum laude

                                        University Medical Centre (UMC) Utrecht, Netherlands

Thesis title: “On certainty: studies in obsessive compulsive disorder”


1989 – 1996                 Master (MD) in Medicine

University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium


1984 -1989                  Master (MSc) in Philosophy

                                         University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium

Thesis title: “The personality concept in “Le Cas Aimee” from the earlier works of Jacques Lacan”

Medical Experience


2007 - current             Chair of the Department of Psychiatry

Academic Medical Center (AMC), Amsterdam, Netherlands


2004 – 2007                Chief section Anxiety Disorders

University Medical Centre (UMC) Utrecht, Netherlands


2002 - 2004                 Staff member section Anxiety Disorders
University Medical Centre (UMC) Utrecht, Netherlands


1996 - 2002                  Residency in Psychiatry & registration as Psychiatrist

University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium & University Medical Centre (UMC) Utrecht, Netherlands


Administrative Experience         


2016 – current                 President of the Dutch Psychiatric Association (Nederlandse Vereniging voor PsychiatrieNVvP)

2016 – current                 Member of the executive committee of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP)

2012 - current                  Chair of the Senate of the University of Amsterdam

2011 - current                  Chair of the division of Mind, Brain and Senses at the AMC Amsterdam, Netherlands

2010 – current                 Supervisory Board of Ipse de Bruggen - an institution for people with mental disabilities

2009 – current                 Member of the scientific board of the Netherlands Brain Bank (NHB)

2008 – 2010                      Advisor of the America Psychiatric Association (APA) DSM-V committee


Editorial Experience


2014 - current              Editorial board member (Review editor) of Neuropsychiatric Imaging and Stimulation (specialty section of Frontiers in Psychiatry)

2011 - current              Editorial board member of the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders

2010 - current              Editorial board member of the Journal of Behavioral Addictions

2007 - current              Editorial board member of Reviews on Clinical trials

2006 - current              Associate Editor of Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine




2010 - current                                 International College of Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders (ICOCS)

2006 - current                                 International College of Neuropsychopharmacology (CINP)

2006 – current                                Dutch Association for Psychiatry (NVvP)

2006 - current                                 International OCD genetics consortium

2006 – current                                European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP)

2006 - current                                 Society for Neuroscience (SFN)


Grants & Scholarships

Total grant amount in euros: ca. 14.000K (consortium); allocated to own group/lab: ca. 4.000K


2017     UvA, ABC project grant (collaboration with Jan Engelmann, FEB & Anneke Goudriaan, AMC)

2016     ZonMW suicide grant

2015     AMC Innovation Impulse

2015     AMC Innovation Impulse

2013     Hersenstichting Nederland, Kleine subsidies

2012     NWO, Investeringen NWO-groot (collaboration with Inge Huitinga, NBB)

2012     NWO, ZonMw, Fonds Neuropsychoanalyse

2012     Medtronic, 10 devices for treatment trial

2012     Hersenstichting Nederland, Kleine subsidies

2011     NWO, ZonMw, Doelmatigheid, VEMI

2010     NWO, FES Program, Hersenen & Cognitie

2009     UvA, CSCA Program (Collaboration with Richard Ridderinkhof, UvA)

2009     NWO, ZonMw, Risk Behaviour and Dependency (collaboration with Wim van den Brink, AMC)

2008     NWO, ZonMw, Doelmatigheid, VEMI (collaboration with Danielle Cath, UU)

2007     Medtronic, 26 devices for treatment trial (collaboration with Rick Schuurman, AMC)

2006     NWO,   Clinical fellow-program

2006     NWO, Open MAGW program (collaboration with Marcel van den Hout, UU)

2005     US Tourette Syndrome Association (collaboration with Danielle Cath, UU)

2005     NWO, VENI program

2005     Medtronic, 16 devices for treatment trial (collaboration with Rick Schuurman, AMC)


Awards & Honors

2005:    Ramaer Medaille”, scholarly award from the Dutch Society of Psychiatry for outstanding clinical research in psychiatry.

2005:    “De Girard de Mielet van Coehoorn” medaille for Cum Laude PhD thesis, scientific award from the UMC Utrecht.



Allogeneic immune response control

Dieter DEFORCE, Damiaan DENYS, Veerle GOBIN, Kelly TILLEMAN

WO Patent 2,013,076,245, 2013


Public Lectures

Damiaan Denys regularly gives public lectures at the interface of philosophy, psychiatry and neurosciences on topics including fear, control, freedom, deep brain stimulation, happiness and psychiatry. He was a speaker at Wetenschapscafe (de Rode Hoed), Studium Generale, de Nacht van de filosofie, Writers Unlimited, and the Paradisolezing, among others. Damiaan has been a guest in various radio and television programs including Pauw & Witteman and De Wereld Draait Door (DWDD) and gave a lecture at the Universiteit van Nederland. In August 2015, Damiaan Denys was a guest in the Dutch television program Zomergasten (VPRO) and in 2016 in Kijken in de Ziel.



Since 2013 Denys brings science into  theater. He wrote a monologue on anxiety and freedom, and performs on stage in theatres throughout the Netherlands and Belgium.


Columns & Essays

Damiaan Denys regularly writes columns and essays. He is columnist for “De Psychiater” and writes fortnightly columns for the science section of newspaper “Het Parool”.



Total publications:                        n =  258
Books:                                               n =  8
Book chapters:                          n =  37



  • Bergfeld, I, Schuurman R., and Denys, D (2016)Deep Brain Stimulation of the ventral Anterior Limb of the Internal Capsule for Treatment-Resistant Depression: A randomized clinical trial’ JAMA Psychiatry [IF = 12.008]

  • Aleman, A., Denys, D. (2014). Mental health: A road map for suicide research and prevention. Nature. 509(7501):421-3. [IF = 42.351]

  • Figee M., Luigjes J., Smolders R., Valencia-Alfonso C., van Wingen G., de Kwaasteniet B., Mantione M., Ooms P., de Koning P., Vulink N., Levar N., Droge L., van den Munckhof P., Schuurman P.R., Nederveen A., van den Brink W., Mazaheri A., Vink M. and Denys D. (2013). Regaining control: deep brain stimulation restores frontostriatal network activity in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Nature Neuroscience 16(4): 386-7. [IF 16.095]

  • Luigjes, J., van den Brink, W., Feenstra, M., van den Munckhof, P., Schuurman, P.R., Schippers, R., Mazaheri, A., De Vries, T. J., & Denys, D. (2012). Deep brain stimulation in addiction: a review of potential brain targets. Molecular Psychiatry,17(6):572-83 [IF 14.897]

  • Denys, D., Mantione, M., Figee, M., van den Munckhof, P., Koerselman, F., Westenberg, H., Bosch A., Schuurman R. (2010). Deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens for treatment-refractory obsessive-compulsive disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67(10), 1061-8. [IF 10.782]



  • Franken, I., Muris P., Denys D. (Eds.) (2015 tweede druk). Psychopathologie. Oorzaken, diagnostiek en behandeling. De Tijdstroom uitgeverij BV, Utrecht. ISBN 9789058982773.

  • Ingmar Franken, Peter Muris, Damiaan Denys (Eds.), (2013 eerste druk). Basisboek Psychopathologie. De Tijdstroom uitgeverij BV, Utrecht. ISBN 9789058982148.

  • Damiaan Denys, Matthijs Feenstra, Rick Schuurman (Eds.), (2012). Deep Brain Stimulation: A New Frontier in Psychiatry. Springer-Verlag GmbH Berlin/Heidelberg. ISBN 9783642309908.

  • Damiaan Denys, Nienke Vulink (Eds.), (2011). Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Koninklijke van Gorcum BV, Assen. ISBN 9789023244592.

  • Damiaan Denys, Gerben Meynen (Eds.), (2011). Handboek Psychiatrie en Filosofie. De Tijdstroom uitgeverij BV, Utrecht. ISBN 9789058981936.

  • Denys, D. (2009). Wat is Psychiatrie? (Inaugurele rede, Universiteit van Amsterdam), Vossius Pers, ISBN 9789056295806 e-ISBN 9789048510863.

  • Damiaan Denys, Femke de Geus (Eds.), (2007). Handboek Obsessieve-compulsieve stoornissen, eerste druk. De Tijdstroom uitgeverij BV, Utrecht. ISBN 9789058980878.

  • Damiaan Denys, (2004). On certainty: studies in obsessive compulsive disorder. PhD thesis. Ridderprint offsetdrukkerij b.v., Ridderkerk, ISBN 9039336385.


PhD supervision

Completed PhD students:          n = 17

Current PhD students:                n = 36


Research programmes

Deep Brain Stimulation and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

Deep brain stimulation or DBS has shown to be effective in therapy-resistant cases of a number of neurological and psychiatric diseases. However, it has not yet been fully determined which psychiatric symptoms respond best to DBS and which brain targets are optimal. Additionally, despite extensive clinical and experimental research, our knowledge of the mechanisms of action of DBS still is limited.
The research program of this group focuses on two main questions. 1. How can DBS be used safely and efficaciously for the treatment of compulsivity, depression, addiction and eating disorders? 2. How does successful DBS alter neurotransmission in these diseases? As these diseases are characterized by profound behavioral alterations due to disturbances of affect, motivation and cognition, our research is focused on neurobiological substrates of motivational behavior in general.
Our approach is translational and multidisciplinary; clinical findings from DBS studies in humans are translated in relevant animal models, in which we observe effects of DBS on behavior and its underpinning neurocircuitry. Our human research tools include methods for intracerebral electrophysiological recordings, functional MRI, SPECT, neuroendocrinology and genetics in combination with neuropsychological tests.
Research Topics

• Deep Brain Stimulation in chronic treatment-refractory drug dependence: A pilot study
• EEG and intracranial recording of local field potential in the human Nucleus Accumbens
• Effects of Chronic Fluoxetine use on the developing brain
• Effects of DBS in Nucleus Accumbens in OCD on brain activity and dopamine release
• Effects of DBS in Nucleus Accumbens subareas on neuronal responses in the cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical circuits
• Cognitive and behavioural aspects of deep brain stimulation in obsessive-compulsive disorder
• The effect of neurostimulation in rodents in relation to obsessive compulsive disorder
• Effects of neuromodulation in the cortico-striatal-thalamo-cortical circuits on striatal dopamine release and motivated behaviour 
• Geographic variation in efficacy and generalizability of pharmacological treatment in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and OCD
• Neuroimaging of Deep Brain Stimulation in treatment-refractory patients with major depressive disorder 
• Neuropsychological effects of deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens on treatment-refractory patients with major depressive disorder
• Quality of life and cost effectiveness of deep brain stimulation in psychiatric disorders
• Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): Studies in imagined ugliness 
• Deep Brain Stimulation in patients with refractory OCD and refractory major depression: possible immunological and HPA axis changes
• Deep Brain Stimulation in Treatment-refractory patients with Anorexia Nervosa: a Pilot Study
• Feelings of Incompleteness – studies on dopamine in obsessive-compulsive disorder
• Database research and genetics
• The concept of obsessionality: similarities in the obsessive compulsive spectrum
• Body Identity Integrity Disorder (BIID)
• Inhibitory control over emotions: GABAergic regulation of the amygdala
• ADHD: a disconnection between the attentional control and sensory systems of the brain?
• The impact of DBS on the phenomenology of psychiatric patients
• Global neural networks involved in Deep Brain Stimulation and reward-driven behaviour
• Stress, habits and attachment in OCD
• Structural and functional connectivity in attention and motor control
• Misophonia: an imaging study on the neurobiology and the efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy
• Methodological aspects of genetic analyses
• Effects of deep brain stimulation and developmental drug treatment on functional connectivity in rat brain circuits
• Virtual reality GAME for OCD patients
• TRACE - TRacing genetics of Alcoholism and Comorbid disorders in Extended pedigrees

Prof. dr. D.A.J.P. Denys
Dr. M. Figee MD PhD
Prof. dr. P.R. Roelfsema PhD (NIN)
Prof. dr. R. Turner PhD (Spinoza)
Dr. N.C.C. Vulink MD PhD

M.G. Feenstra PhD (NIN)
P.C. Klink PhD (NIN)
D.W. Rietveld PhD
I. Willuhn PhD (NIN)
Dr. G.A. van Wingen PhD

PhD Students
M.N. Bais
K. Bangel
M.J. van Bennekom
I. Bergfeld MSc
Drs. B.J.G. van den Boom (NIN)
W.B. Bruin
M. Derksen (NIN)
Drs. A.C. Domen
I. Ehmer MSc (NIN)
N.A.F. Eijsker
W. van Elzelingen
E.A. Fridgeirsson
J.N. Goedhoop
T.F. Goldschmidt
I. Graat
M.I.C. de Haan MSc
I.J. Jager
W.A. van Leeuwen
N. Levar MSc
L.C. Liebrand MSc
C.A.B. Molenaar
M.S. Oudijn MD
M.M. van der Pol
A. Poortman
D. Scheepens MD
R. Smolders
A.L. van der Straten
J.F.M. Strous
C.A. Turbyne
P.L.M. Walta
P.M. van Westen MA MSc
Y.M. Wong
M. van der Linden (UvA)
R. Schippers (VU)

Other research related activities
  • Board of directors / Trustees / Supervisory board, Amsterdam Brain & Cognition (ABC)
  • Board of directors / Trustees / Supervisory board, Board of the Senate of the University of Amsterdam
  • Board of directors / Trustees / Supervisory board, Spinozacentrum
  • Board of directors / Trustees / Supervisory board, ‘Stichting Folia Civiatis’
  • Board of directors / Trustees / Supervisory board, Ipse de Bruggen
  • Contribution to guidelines and protocols, DSM V
  • Membership of advisory board / Consultant, Nederlandse Hersenbank
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, International DBS consortium of psychiatric disorders
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, International OCD spectrum disorders consortium
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, Collegium International Neuropsychopharmacologicum
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, European Collegium of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, Nederlandse Vereniging voor Psychiatrie
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, International Society for Neuroscience (SNF)
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, International OCD genetics consortium
  • Membership of medical or scientific committee, Scientific Advisory Group CNS EMEA
  • Membership, Kenniskamer Human Enhancement
Current research funding
  • AMC
  • Europese Unie
  • Hogeschool Rotterdam
  • NWO
  • Universiteit van Amsterdam-ABC
  • ZonMw