Skip to main content
 Marianne van den Bree

Marianne van den Bree

Professor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences

+44 (0)29 2068 8433
2.16, Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a Professor of Psychological Medicine within the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics and the Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute at Cardiff University.

My research focuses on the characterisation of the genetic and environmental factors that play a role in the development of mental health disorders. This includes understanding the complex developmental relationships across the lifespan between mental health disorders and other health-related conditions.

My background is in psychology, human genetics and epidemiology/methodology.

I am interested in the wide-ranging developmental, behavioural, cognitive and mental health manifestations that can be experienced by people with chromosomal microdeletions and duplications known as Copy Number Variants (CNVs).

I have extensive experience playing lead roles in international consortia studying CNV and mental health.

A key aim is also to communicate mental health research findings widely and strive for societal benefit.



  • BSc Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands
  • MSc Experimental Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands
  • PhD, Human Genetics, Medical College of Virginia - Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.


  • RCUK Societal Impact Award, KTP 40th Anniversary Awards (2015)
  • Cardiff University Social Innovation Award (2015)
  • Research project ‘Improving mental health services for homeless people’ received highest grade of "Outstanding" by the KTP Grading Panel for achievement in meeting KTP's Objectives (2014)
  • European Research Advisory Board Publication Award (2013)

Academic positions:

  • Impact Lead Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences
  • School of Medicine REF Management Group Member
































Teaching experiences include:

The epidemiology and biology of substance misuse (medical students).

CNVs and mental health risk (PhD students).

I have previously led the medical intercalated degree of Psychology and Medicine.

Lead roles

LIfespaN multimorbidity research Collaborative (LINC)

I lead a programme grant, bringing together reserchers from Cardiff, Bristol, Leeds, Queen Mary London, and Exeter Universities as well as Copenhagen University in Denmark and the Wellcone Sanger Institute aiming to study the development of physical and mental health multimorbidity across the lifespan. The programme involves analysis of five large longitudinal cohorts and evaluates the role of genetic and environmental factors on risk of multimorbidity development.

Cardiff ECHO study

I have initiated and lead a large longitudinal research programme of people with CNV linked with increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorder (ND-CNV) and their family members. This programme (the ExperienCes of people witH cOpy number variants (ECHO Study)) combines detailed phenotyping with genetic, pharmacological and brain imaging studies to investigate mental health risk.

Web page:


Cardiff Lead Investigator of the Assessing Genomic Impact on Neurodevelopment (IMAGINE-ID) study (collaboration with D. Skuse (University College London)).

Medical Research Council (MRC)-funded.

Web page:

Genes to Mental Health (G2MH) Network

Principal Investigator of one of a cluster of nine NIMH RO1 grants studying the mental health profiles of individuals with 16p11.2 and 22q11.2 deletion or duplication (collaboration with R. Gur (University of Pennsylvania), C. Bearden (University of California, Los Angeles), S. Jacquemont (University of Montreal), D. McDonald-McGinn (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), J. Sebat (University of California, San Diego), A. Swillen (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), T. van Amelsvoort (Maastricht University) and J. Vorstman (University of Toronto)).

National Institute of Mental Health USA (NIMH)-funded.


Biomarkers for intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder in deletion and duplication of 16p11.2

Phenotyping Work Package Lead of a research programme studying signalling pathways in individuals with 16p11.2 deletion or duplication (collaboration with R. Brambilla (Cardiff University)).


Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Partnership with support charity CEREBRA to improve mental health for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities linked with CNV.

Innovate UK and CEREBRA funded.


Experience playing lead roles in international consortia:

  • International Genes to Mental Health Consortium (G2MH)(Site Lead)
  • Physical and mental health multimobidity across the lifespan (LIfespaN multimorbidity research Collaborative (LINC))(Lead)
  • Mental Health NIMH Rare Genetic Disease Network (MHRGDN) Steering Committee (Member)
  • 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome International Brain and Behavior Consortium (IBBC)(Coordinator of half of EU sites)
  • Pan-EU MINDDS Consortium (Work Package Lead)

 Other memberships:

  • Board Member National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH)
  • Academic Partner Cleft Collective Cohort, Bristol University.

Recent Funding:

MRC, ESRC, NIHR. Physical and mental health multimorbidity across the lifespan (LIfespaN multimorbidity research Collaborative: LINC). Role: PI. £3,631,451

MRC, ESCR, NIHR. Investigating five large population-based cohort studies to understand the precursors of multimorbidity risk. Role: PI. £74,363.78

MRC. IMAGINE-2: Stratifying Genomic Causes of Intellectual Disability by Mental Health Outcomes in Childhood and Adolescence. PI: Skuse. Role: Co-I, Lead of Work Package 2 (face-to-face phenotyping). £1,999,599.26

Wellcome Trust ISSF. Using genomics to understand the early developmental origins of psychiatric conditions. PI: Chawner. Role: Research sponsor. £69,443.

NIMH. Supplement to 7/9: Dissecting the effects of genomic variants on neurobehavioral dimensions in CNVs enriched for neuropsychiatric disorders. Subcontract to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Role: PI: $41,833.80

MRC. Targeting ERK signalling to ameliorate intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder associated with chromosomal rearrangements at 16p11.2. PI: Brambilla. Role Co-I, Lead of Work Package 1 (face-to-face phenotyping). £1,181,767.

NIMH. RO1(7) is: 7/9 Dissecting  the  effects  of  genomic  variants  on  neurobehavioral  dimensions  in  CNVs  enriched  for  neuropsychiatric disorders. Role: PI. $6,000,000 ($1,477,560 to Cardiff directly).

Baily Thomas Charitable Trust. Pilot study to develop and instrument to capture broad-ranging neurodevelopmental problems in children with a genetic diagnosis of intellectual disability. Role: PI. £48,502.

Takeda. To establish a scalable set of assay platforms against which the phenotype consequences of manipulating the identified exclusive targets can be screened and effects the drug compounds assessed to develop therapeutics for schizophrenia. PI: Wilkinson. Role: Co-I.  £2,960,749.

Innovate UK, CEREBRA. Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). Improving mental health for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities: A Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Cerebra and Cardiff University. Role: PI. £216,320.

European Union Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST). Maximising Impact of research in Neuro-Developmental DisorderS (MINDDS). PI: Harwood. Role: Management Committee Member and Leader of Working Group 2.


I have thus far successfully supervised 13 PhD students and clinical fellows.

You are welcome to contact me if you are looking to do a PhD in a vibrant research group and you are interested in:

  • Genetics
  • Mental Health
  • Cognition
  • Rare genetic syndromes
  • Mental and physical health multimorbidity
  • Epidemiology
  • Longitudinal research

Current supervision

Lowri O'Donovan

Research student

Past projects

Primary Supervisor:

2019-2022            Nabila Mohammed Hassan Ali (with Michael Owen, Cardiff University). The etiology of autism spectrum disorder traits in high-risk children with genomic deletions and duplications.

2019-2022            Lowri O’Donovan (with Jeremy Hall, Cardiff University and Tamsin Ford, Cambridge University). School experiences, including bullying, in children at high genetic risk of mental health problems.

2016-2019            Sinead Morrison (with Michael Owen, Cardiff University). Longitudinal study of neurocognitive development and risk for psychopathology in 22q11.2DS.

2015-2018            Christopher Eaton (with David Linden and Michael Owen, Cardiff University). Psychopathology, cognition, epilepsy and brain findings in children with Copy Number Variants (CNVs)

2015-2018            Hayley Moulding (with Jeremy Hall and Michael Owen, Cardiff University). Sleep disturbance in children/ adolescents with Copy Number Variants posing high risk for development of schizophrenia.

2014-2017            Adam Cunningham (with David Linden and Michael Owen, Cardiff University). Developmental coordination, fine motor skills and brain structure in children with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome.

2012-2015            Samuel Chawner (with Michael Owen, Cardiff University). Longitudinal follow-up of children with 22q11.2DS: A study of individuals at high risk of psychotic disorder.

2010-2013            Maria Niarchou (with Michael Owen, Cardiff University). Psychopathology in children with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome.

2010-2013            Alegra Hummel (with Katherine Shelton, Cardiff University, Jon Heron, ALSPAC study and Lawrence Moore, DECIPHer, Cardiff University). Psychosocial aspects of pubertal maturation, family functioning and substance use in adolescence.

2009-2012            Jennifer Ware (with Marcus Munafo, Bristol University): Exploring associations between the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene cluster CHRNA5-A3-B4 and smoking-related behaviours.

2007-2010            Luca Saraceno (with Marcus Munafo, Bristol University, Nick Craddock, Cardiff University and Jon Heron, ALSPAC study). Temporal Association Between Childhood Depressive Symptoms and Alcohol Problem Use in Early Adolescence: Findings from a Large Longitudinal Population-based Study.


2009-2015            Roland Jones, recipient of MRC Clinical Fellowship (with Pamela Taylor, Cardiff University). Predicting change in the relationship between alcohol abuse and violence in young people.

2011-2014            Kate Hodgson (with Katherine Shelton, Cardiff University). Longitudinal study of young homeless people.

2012-2015            Afnan Salaka (with Nigel Williams and Michael Owen, Cardiff University). Molecular genetic characterisation of the 22q11.2 region.

2012-2015            Joanne Doherty (with Michael Owen, David Linden, and Krish Singh). Excitatory-inhibitory balance in adolescents at high genetic risk of mental disorder: a study of cortical gamma oscillations and GABA concentrations in 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.


Key Note Presentations:

  • Lectio Magistralis at the Festival Della Scienza, Genoa, Italy (2020).
  • CEREBRA lecture, Cardiff (2019)
  • International Medical Advisory Group (IMAG) conference, Amsterdam (2014)
  • Faculty of Addictions Psychiatry Annual Conference 2012, Cardiff (2012)
  • International Medical Advisory Group (IMAG) conference, Frascati, Italy (2010)
  • Inter Celtic Congress, St Malo, France (2007).
  • Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Glasgow, Scotland (2006)

Selected Other Presentations:

  • ‘What I know best’ congress, lectures Medical Geneticists, Rome, Italy (2020).
  • Cleft Collective Cohort Studies, Bristol (2019)
  • Panel Member at the 10-year celebration event of the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, Cardiff (2019)
  • European Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (ESCAP) congress, Vienna, Austria (2019)
  • Waterloo Foundation "Changing Minds" symposium, Cardiff (2019)
  • 22q Northern Ireland charity family and clinician day, Belfast (2019)
  • Centre for Genomic Medicine clinical meeting, Manchester (2018).
  • NMHRI Centre Neurodevelopmental Disorder Research Day at to celebrate the opening of the new Child Development Centre, Cardiff (2018)
  • Presentation to Belgium Ambassador in the UK, Ambassador Rudolf Huygelen, Cardiff (2017)
  • 16p11.2 family day, Cardiff (2016)
  • MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics External Advisory Board, Cardiff (2016)
  • Medical Genetics Regional Genetics Centres, London (2016).
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists International Conference, London (2016)
  • National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH), Cardiff (2016).
  • 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome family meeting. MaxAppeal! (2015)
  • European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP), Amsterdam (2015)
  • Waterloo Foundation - Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Therapies Event, Cardiff (2015)
  • Genetics Update for Paediatricians meeting, Cardiff (2014)
  • 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome family meeting. MaxAppeal!, Stourbridge (2015)
  • Guys Hospital, London (2014)
  • South West of Britain Clinical Genetics Group meeting, Cardiff (2013)
  • Fourth Cardiff Symposium on Clinical Cardiovascular Genetics “Current Trends in Diagnosis and Therapy of Inherited Cardiovascular Disorders”, Cardiff (2013)
  • Open University Symposium on Psychosis. UK Research Highlights Session. Brain and Behavioural Sciences series, Milton Keynes (2013)
  • South East Dysmorphology group (Kleefstra Syndrome Meeting), Guy’s Hospital, London (2013).

Selected Other Engagement: