dr. B.T. (Bas) Heijmans

Prinicipal Investigator Population Epigenomics


  • populatie epigenomica
  • integratieve genomica
  • DNA methylatie
  • hart- en vaatziekten
  • veroudering


The research of my group focuses on the discovery of epigenomic signatures of genetic and environmental influences that affect cardiometabolic disease and ageing in humans. To this end, we perform genome scale analyses of population studies, including (monochorionic) twins, long-lived families and individuals who were exposed to the Dutch Famine at the end of WW2. To maximize biological insight from these studies, we develop methodology and tools, integrate epigenomics data with interconnected –omics layers (e.g. genome and transcriptome), address the biological role of DNA methylation, and apply in vitro models to uncover causal epigenomic mechanisms. The long-term perspective is to spur on the development personalized medicine.

Publications in Pubmed and Google Scholar. Information on the TwinLife study can be found here (in Dutch).

Key publications

  • Luijk R, Wu H, ..., Daxinger L, Slagboom PE, van Zwet EW, Heijmans BT. Autosomal genetic variation is associated with DNA methylation in regions variably escaping X-chromosome inactivation. Nat Commun 2018;9:3738.

  • Luijk R, Dekkers KF, …, Heijmans BT*, van Zwet EW*. Genome-wide identification of directed gene networks using large-scale population genomics data. Nat Commun2018;9:3097.
  • Tobi EW, Slieker RC, ..., Lumey LH, Heijmans BT. DNA methylation as a mediator of the association between prenatal adversity and risk factors for metabolic disease in adulthood. Science Adv 2018; 4: eaao4364.

  • Slieker RC, van Iterson M, ..., Slagboom PE, Heijmans BT. Age-related accrual of methylomic variability is linked to fundamental ageing mechanisms. Genome Biol 2016;17: 191.

  • Dekkers KF, van Iterson M, ..., Jukema JW, Heijmans BT. Blood lipids influence DNA methylation in circulating cells. Genome Biol 2016; 17: 138.

  • Bonder MJ, Luijk R, ..., Franke L, Heijmans BT. Disease variants alter transcription factor levels and methylation of their binding sites. Nat Genet 2017; 49:131-138.

  • van Iterson M, van Zwet EW, BIOS Consortium, Heijmans BT. Controlling bias and inflation in epigenome- and transcriptome-wide association studies using the empirical null distribution. Genome Biol 2017;18: 19.

  • Tobi EW, Goeman JJ, ..., Eline Slagboom P, Heijmans BT. DNA methylation signatures link prenatal famine exposure to growth and metabolism. Nat Commun 2014; 5: 5592.

  • Mill J, Heijmans BT. From promises to practical strategies in epigenetic epidemiology. Nat Rev Genet 2013; 14:285-94.
  • Heijmans BT, Tobi EW, ..., Slagboom PE, Lumey LH. Persistent epigenetic differences associated with prenatal exposure to famine in humans. PNAS 2008; 105: 17046-9.

Projects and consortia

  • PI TwinLife, a longitudunal epigenetic study of monochorionic twins in collaboration with the Pediatrics and Neonatology departments of the LUMC.
  • Established Investigator of the Dutch Heart Foundation.
  • Co-PI GENIUS (GENerating the best evIdence-based pharmaceUtical targetS for atherosclerosis), a consortium funded by the Netherlands CardioVascular Research Initiative.
  • Co-lead GoDMC (Genetics of DNA methylation Consortium).
  • PI and chair of the BIOS consortium within the framework of BBMRI-NL, aimed at an integrative genomics analysis of genetic (GWAS, WGS), epigenomics (450k arrray) and transcriptomics (RNA-seq) data on >4000 individuals from 6 Dutch biobanks.


Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum
Gebouw 2
Kamer S-05-46

Einthovenweg 20
2333 ZC Leiden
Tel: 071 526 9785

Postzone S5-P
Postbus 9600
2300 RC Leiden

E-mail: bas.heijmans@lumc.nl