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Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology: Matti Rookus


Matti Rookus, Ph.D.Research Associate, Project leader Division Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology

About Matti Rookus

To understand the etiology of hormone-related tumors we initiated three prospective cohort studies.

Families with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer

First, in the national Hereditary Breast and Ovarian cancer study Netherlands (HEBON) we are enrolling members of high risk families tested for BRCA1/2 and CHEK2 mutations. With this prospective cohort study we actively participate in two international initiatives, the prospective International BRCA1/2 Carrier Cohort Study (IBCCS, coordinated at NKI) and the Consortium of Investigators of Modifiers of BRCA1/2 (CIMBA, epidemiologic part, coordinated at NKI). For instance, in IBCCS we found a decreased risk of breast cancer among BRCA1/2 mutation carriers with a higher level of physical activity. Several other breast cancer risk factors, as known for the general population, are associated with risk of breast cancer for BRCA1/2 mutation carriers. In CIMBA-epi we are investigating if genetic variants may be involved in the well known association between age at menarche and risk of breast cancer. Thus, both hormonal/lifestyle risk factors and genetic alterations are taken into account to assess cancer risks and better understand cancer etiology in high risk families. We aim to develop a risk prediction model that incorporates Dutch baseline cancer risks, the new prospective absolute risks for BRCA1/2 mutation carriers, pedigree information, the Polygenic Risk Score (including SNPs recently identified in CIMBA, reproductive/hormonal risk factors and breast density. If validation studies are positive the model can be used in the clinical genetic practice. HEBON/IBCCS/CIMBA are also resources for studies on gene-gene and gene-treatment interactions, studies on the late health effects of prophylactic surgeries on breasts and ovaries, studies on the psychological impact of genetic testing and the subsequent decision-making processes and blood-based screening studies.

Women exposed to Dietylstilbestrol in utero

Secondly, we focus on the in utero period as the time window of interest by investigating a cohort of 12,000 women exposed to Diethylstilbestrol in utero (DES daughters). We found that the risk of clear-cell adeno carcinoma of the vagina is still increased at higher ages. We are updating the follow-up of the cohort to examine the risks of other hormone-related cancers.

Women exposed to shift work

In a third cohort consisting of 59,000 Dutch nurses we investigate the association between shift work and risk of hormone-related cancers. The first round of follow-up has recently been conducted. As known risk factors for breast cancer prove to be related with shift work, they will be carefully taken into account as confounders. We will examine if variants in clock genes are related with the duration of shift work and if they modify the potential association between shift work and risk of breast cancer.


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Dr. Frederieke van der Baan

Postdoctoral fellow


In June 2012 I defended my thesis on pharmacogenetic testing. My Ph.D. was part of TI Pharma's Escher project, completed at the Julius Center, University Medical Center Utrecht.

As of March 2012 I started as a postdoctoral fellow at the NKI, department of epidemiology. We aim to improve individualized cancer risk prediction of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers in the Netherlands. We work on a risk prediction model, accessible for clinical geneticists, that incorporates both genetic and environmental risk factors such as lifestyle, reproductive and hormonal factors. Currently we study gene-environment interactions and perform pathway analyses within the database of the Consortium of Investigators of Modifiers of BRCA1/2 (CIMBA).

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Denise Jenner

Research assistant


Since 2016 I am working as project coordinator and data manager for the Hebon project that is coordinated at NKI. Hebon is a national study to facilitate research on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and is a collaboration of the NKI and all Dutch University Medical Centers. More information is provided on (in Dutch).

In 2014 I graduated as MSc Health Sciences at VU university. I already had experience in e.g. data management, research and teaching. The work for Hebon is versatile, challenging and interesting. I am committed to further develop my management, organizational and research skills within Hebon.

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Lieske Schrijver



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Nina Berentzen



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Rianne Hoek

Research assistant


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Recent publications View All Publications

  • Oral contraceptive use and breast cancer risk: retrospective and prospective analyses from a BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carrier cohort study.

    JNCI Cancer Spectrum May 2018

    Lieske H. Schrijver, Håkan Olsson, Kelly-Anne Phillips, Mary Beth Terry, David E.
    Goldgar, Karin Kast, Christoph Engel, Esther M. John, Christian F. Singer,
    Lenka Foretova, Anne-Marie Gerdes, Trinidad Caldes, Edith Olah, Catherine
    Noguès , Nadine Andrieu, Douglas F. Easton, Flora E. van Leeuwen, John L.
    Hopper, Roger L. Milne, Antonis C. Antoniou, Matti A. Rookus

    Link to article
  • Risks of Breast, Ovarian, and Contralateral Breast Cancer for BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Carriers

    JAMA. 2017;317(23): 2402-2416

    Karoline B. Kuchenbaecker; John L. Hopper; Daniel R. Barnes; Kelly-Anne Phillips; Thea
    M. Mooij; Marie-José Roos-Blom; Sarah Jervis; Flora E. van Leeuwen; Roger L.
    Milne; Nadine Andrieu; David E. Goldgar; Mary Beth Terry; Matti A. Rookus;
    Douglas F. Easton; Antonis C. Antoniou, PhD; and the BRCA1 and BRCA2 Cohort

    <Link to pubmed>


  • Office manager

    Danielle Groenewegen & Karin Roede

  • E-mail

  • Telephone Number

    0031 20 512 2480



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