dr. B.T. (Bas) Heijmans

Associate Professor


  • Population Epigenomics
  • Integrative genomics
  • DNA methylation
  • Ageing
  • Cardiometabolic disease


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 epigenome-scale analyses of large population studies, including twin registers, 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 other interconnected –omics layers, 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.

Key publications

  • Bonder MJ, Luijk R, Zhernakova DV, Moed M, Deelen P, Vermaat M, van Iterson M, van Dijk F, van Galen M, Bot J, Slieker RC, Jhamai PM, Verbiest M, Suchiman HE, Verkerk M, van der Breggen R, van Rooij J, Lakenberg N, Arindrarto W, Kielbasa SM, Jonkers I, van 't Hof P, Nooren I, Beekman M, Deelen J, van Heemst D, Zhernakova A, Tigchelaar EF, Swertz MA, Hofman A, Uitterlinden AG, Pool R, van Dongen J, Hottenga JJ, Stehouwer CD, van der Kallen CJ, Schalkwijk CG, van den Berg LH, van Zwet EW, Mei H, Li Y, Lemire M, Hudson TJ; BIOS Consortium., Slagboom PE, Wijmenga C, Veldink JH, van Greevenbroek MM, van Duijn CM, Boomsma DI, Isaacs A, Jansen R, van Meurs JB, 't Hoen PA, Franke L, Heijmans BT. Disease variants alter transcription factor levels and methylation of their binding sites. Nat Genet 2016 Dec 5. doi: 10.1038/ng.3721

  • Tobi EW, Goeman JJ, Monajemi R, Gu H, Putter H, Zhang Y, Slieker RC, Stok AP, Thijssen PE, Müller F, van Zwet EW, Bock C, Meissner A, Lumey LH, Eline Slagboom P, Heijmans BT. DNA methylation signatures link prenatal famine exposure to growth and metabolism. Nat Commun 2014; 5: 5592.

  • Van Iterson M, Tobi EW, Slieker RC, den Hollander W, Luijk R, Slagboom PE, Heijmans BT. MethylAid: visual and interactive quality control of large Illumina 450k datasets.Bioinformatics 2014; 30: 3435-7.

  • Slieker RC, Bos SD, Goeman JJ, Bovée JVGM, Talens RP, Van der Breggen R,  Suchiman HED, Lameijer EW, Putter H, Van den Akker EB,  Zhang Y, Jukema JW, Slagboom PE, Meulenbelt I, Heijmans BT. Identification and systematic annotation of tissue-specific differentially methylated regions using Illumina 450k chips. Epigenetics & Chromatin 2013; 6:26.

  • Mill J, Heijmans BT. From promises to practical strategies in epigenetic epidemiology. Nat Rev Genet 2013; 14:285-94.

  • Talens RP, Christensen K, Putter H, Willemsen G, Christiansen L, Kremer D,Suchiman HE, Slagboom PE, Boomsma DI, Heijmans BT. Epigenetic variation during the adult lifespan: cross-sectional and longitudinal data on monozygotic twin pairs.Aging Cell 2012; 11:694-703.

  • Heijmans BT, Mill J. The seven plagues of epigenetic epidemiology.Int J Epidemiol 2012; 41:74-8. 

  • Talens RP, Boomsma DI, Tobi EW, Kremer D, Jukema JW, Willemsen G, Putter H, Slagboom PE, Heijmans BT. Variation, patterns, and temporal stability of DNA methylation: considerations for epigenetic epidemiology. FASEB J 2010; 24: 3135-44.

  • Tobi EW, Lumey LH, Talens RP, Kremer D, Putter H, Stein AD, Slagboom PE, Heijmans BT. DNA methylation differences after exposure to prenatal famine are common and timing- and sex-specific.Hum Mol Genet 2009; 18: 4046-53.

  • Heijmans BT, Tobi EW, Stein AD, Putter H, Blauw GJ, Susser ES, Slagboom PE, Lumey LH. Persistent epigenetic differences associated with prenatal exposure to famine in humans. PNAS 2008; 105: 17046-9.

  • Heijmans BT, Kremer D, Tobi EW, Boomsma DI, Slagboom PE. Heritable rather than age-related environmental and stochastic factors dominate variation in DNA methylation of the human IGF2/H19 locus.Hum Mol Genet 2007; 16: 547-54.

Projects and consortia

  • Leader Work Package Life course loss and maintenance of epigenetic control of the EU FP7 consortium IDEAL (Integrated Research on Developmental Determinants of Ageing and Longevity).
  • Co-PI GENIUS (GENerating the best evIdence-based pharmaceUtical targetS for atherosclerosis), a consortium funded by the Netherlands CardioVascular Research Initiative.
  • PI Prenatally induced DNA methylation profiles and disease risk at age 60 funded by NIH.
  • 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 in 4000 samples from 6 Dutch biobanks.
  • Associate member EU Network of Excellence EpiGeneSys.


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