Universiteit Leiden

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Anne-Laura van Harmelen

Professor Brain, Safety and Resilience

Prof.dr. A. van Harmelen
+31 71 527 2727

Short CV

  • Sept 2020-: Professor of Brain, Safety and Resilience, Institute of Education and Child Studies, Leiden University, Netherlands & Honourary Senior Affiliate, MRC CBU & Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge
  • 2016-2020: Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow/Senior Research Associate, Psychiatry, University of Cambridge
  • 2015-2020: Fellow, Lucy Cavendish College Cambridge
  • 2015-2017: Tutor and Director of Studies PBS, Lucy Cavendish College Cambridge
  • 2014-2016: Rubicon Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge
  • 2008-2013: PhD, Psychology, Leiden University, Netherlands. Viva/Defense date: 10 December 2013
  • 2006-2008: Master of Science (Cum Laude: Highest Honours), Psychology; VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 2003-2006: Bachelor of Science, Psychology, University of Groningen, Netherlands
  • 1999-2003: Bachelor of Physical Education, Specialization in Special Needs, Windesheim College, Zwolle, Netherlands  


One in three children and adolescents experiences childhood adversity, such as child abuse or bullying. Childhood adversity is one of the strongest predictors of many behavioral and mental problems in adolescence. To counter these problems, Anne-Laura van Harmelen's research focuses on a better understanding of the complex social, psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of risk and resilience in adolescence. For example, van Harmelen has shown that childhood adversity is related to changes in the structure and functioning of the brain, which make people vulnerable to mental problems and that the same neurobiological mechanisms make people vulnerable to suicide. She also showed that there are important factors that increase resilience in youth with childhood trauma experiences, such as friendships and support from the family, recall of positive memories and stronger regulation of stress responses in the brain. Her research has also shown that these factors strongly influence each other. These findings have led Van Harmelen to propose that resilience can best be described as a complex and dynamic system.

Grants and Fellowships

  • 2019    Returning Carer’s scheme, University of Cambridge (£10K). PI
  • 2018    Royal Society Research Grant (£103K) PI. The resilient adolescent brain
  • 2018    Royal Society Enhancement Award (£98K) PI. The resilient adolescent brain
  • 2017    MQ Brighter Futures Award (£548K) PI. Help overcome and prevent the emergence of suicide.
  • 2016    Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship (£417K) PI. The neurobiology of resilience after child maltreatment.
  • 2015    Additional Rubicon Fellowship (£12K) PI
  • 2014    Returning Carer’s Scheme, University of Cambridge (£7K) PI.
  • 2013    Rubicon Fellowship, Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (£140K) PI. Does friendship support reduce the neurobiological effects of childhood emotional maltreatment?


  • 2020    Rising Star Award. Association for Psychological Science
  • 2019    Society of Biological Psychiatry travel fellowship award ($2000)
  • 2019    Master of Arts, University of Cambridge.
  • 2018    Emerging Leader in Adolescent Mental Health prize, Medical Research Foundation MRC (£5000)
  • 2018    Nominated for the University of Cambridge Vice Chancellors award for Public engagement with research.

Professor Brain, Safety and Resilience

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Instituut Pedagogische Wetenschappen
  • Forensische gezinsped. en Jeugdhulpverl.

Work address

Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden



  • Programme committee FENS conference organisatie van groot Europees neuroscience congres
  • De Psycholoog Ik schrijf een column om de twee maanden
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