Eske Derks

Group leader in Translational Neurogenomics
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute

Brisbane, QLD

Contact me for

  • Sitting on boards or committees
  • Conference presenting


Professor Eske Derks is Professor of Psychiatric Genetics and Group Leader of the Translational Neurogenomics Laboratory and as such plays an important role in identifying gene mechanisms that increase the risk of mental health disorders. The Translational Neurogenomics Laboratory investigates the role of genetic risk factors in a range of neuropsychiatric and substance use disorders. The overarching objective of her research is to understand the downstream molecular consequences underlying statistical associations as this will be essential for translating genetic findings into the clinic.

Eske has a highly recognized international reputation in psychiatric genetics. She obtained her PhD in behaviour genetics at the Free University Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her research program investigates biological mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric disease by investigating the impact of genetic risk factors on gene expression. She was the first to integrate genetic and transcriptomic data from 13 brain tissues to improve the functional interpretation of genetic findings for five psychiatric disorders (Nature Genetics, in press, senior author) and other complex traits (Nature Genetics, 2018). As co-PI of the International Cannabis Consortium (ICC), she has led three large meta-analyses on the genetics of cannabis use; the latest initiative included 184,765 subjects and revealed 35 genes associated with cannabis use. She is a member of the executive board of the OCD group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC). Eske has published in highly influential journals, including Science, Nature Genetics, and Molecular Psychiatry.

Her vision for the next five years is to apply computational approaches to improve the functional interpretation of statistical associations in genetic studies of neuropsychiatric disorders and to generate a list of candidate causal genes that are targeted by pharmacological compounds to develop more effective treatment strategies.

Eske identifies as culturally and linguistically diverse.