PhD defence of Matthijs van der Loos on Thursday 20 June 2013

On Thursday 20 June 2013 Matthijs van der Loos will defend his PhD thesis entitled 'Molecular Genetics and Hormones: New Frontiers in Entrepreneurship Research'. His supervisor are Professor Roy Thurik, Professor Patrick Groenen, both of Erasmus School of Economics, and Professor Albert Hofman of Erasmus MC Hospital. His co-supervisor is Dr. Philipp Koellinger, also of Erasmus School of Economics. Other members of the Doctoral Committee are Professor H. Bleichrodt (Erasmus School of Economics), Professor M. Johannesson (Stockholm School of Economics) and Professor H.W. Tiemeier (Erasmus MC).

Time and location

The PhD defence will take place in the Senate Hall of Erasmus University Rotterdam and will start at 09.30 hrs.

About the dissertation

Recent studies suggest that entrepreneurship is partly inheritable, but are unable to pinpoint the specific genes involved. In his PhD dissertation entitled Molecular Genetics and Hormones: New Frontiers in Entrepreneurship Research, Matthijs van der Loos presents results from novel research aiming to identify genes associated with entrepreneurship, using actual genetic data on the molecular level. In addition, the relationship between testosterone and entrepreneurship is examined, since genes may exert their influence through this hormone.

Firstly, by comparing identical and fraternal twins, Van der Loos finds that entrepreneurship is partly inheritable, thereby corroborating earlier studies. Secondly, the thesis presents novel evidence for inheritability using molecular genetic data. A large-scale, international collaboration effort comprising some 50,000 participants was set up to uncover genes associated with entrepreneurship. However, even in this large sample no associations between genes and entrepreneurship could be established. The dissertation goes on to show that it is currently impossible to predict entrepreneurship solely from genes. It finishes by presenting results indicating that, in contrast to earlier findings, testosterone is not associated with entrepreneurship.

Taken as a whole, the results in thesis suggest that entrepreneurship is likely to be influenced by hundreds, if not thousands, of genes with very small individual effect sizes, implying that very large sample sizes will be needed in future research to find genes associated with entrepreneurship.

Perhaps most important, though, is that this thesis can serve as a practical guide for studying the genetics of other economic outcomes and behaviours. In conclusion, this thesis helps to build the foundations for a novel research field, genoeconomics, which integrates molecular genetics into economics.

About Matthijs van der Loos

Matthijs van der Loos (1984) completed his grammar school education in Rotterdam in 2002. He attended the Erasmus University Rotterdam and graduated cum laude in 2007 with a Master of Science degree in Economics and Informatics. After spending a semester at the University of Sydney, he embarked on his PhD in economics under the supervision of Professors Roy Thurik, Patrick Groenen, and Albert Hofman, and Associate Professor Philipp Koellinger. His research focused on methods that enable identification of genes associated with entrepreneurship as well as a hormonal correlate through which these genes may influence entrepreneurial behaviour. In addition, he co-authored several papers regarding the molecular genetics of various other economic outcomes and behaviours. His work has been published in international peer-reviewed journals such as Small Business Economics, the European Journal of Epidemiology, and PLOS ONE. He has presented his work at various international conferences including the European Association for Research in Industrial Economics Annual Conference and the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference. Matthijs is currently on the job market in the private sector.