Michel Nivard

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Research Focus

Michel Nivard is a psychologist that studies the development of both psychopathology and cognition. He does so by using genetics as a tool to learn more about the sociological, psychological and biological processes that give rise to (un)healthy development and adult outcomes.

My plans for the fellowship period

In the fellowship period I want to take findings from large (1.000.000 participants or more) genome wide association studies of educational success and move beyond simply identifying which genes contribute to educational success, but also study how they do so. This question has many answers: genes act on proteins in a specific tissue (e.g. the brain or excitatory neurons) to affect biology, these effects may influence the psyche of a child at many points in development, at home, pre-school, primary school or puberty, the effects of genes must be considered I the context of the social environment.

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?

Genomics in educational sciences offers immense opportunity to study and understand the educational and cognitive developmental process. Educational sciences often are held back by the inability to perform large scale randomized experiments, in the absence of experiments to establish causal effects of interventions on real life outcomes, techniques that rely on genetic for pseudo randomization (e.g. Mendelian randomization) may offer a solution, but only if we further our understanding of the relationship between genome and the educational process.