Portrait of Dr Pieter Hoekstra, Scientific Coordinator of EMTICS

Dr Pieter J. Hoekstra

Scientific Coordinator of EMTICS, based at University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands

Research field

Childhood Psychiatry

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“I am a clinician trying to offer the best treatments to young patients and their families as well as a researcher. In both roles, I am all too well aware of the large gaps in the knowledge of tics. EMTICS is trying to change this in the best interest of our patients”, says Pieter Hoekstra, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist.


Tics are quite common in children and can become a large burden. It is important to know why some children develop tics while others do not. We know that tics are related to processes in the brain and that genes play a role. But infections may also be important: some children suddenly develop tics after a throat infection.


EMTICS wants to identify the causes of tics in children and to find an effective treatment. Tics are sudden, rapid, repeated, non-rhythmic and recurring movements or vocalisations. Examples are eye blinking and throat clearing. “We are especially interested in the role of autoimmunity and infections”, says Dr Hoekstra.


EMTICS brings together experts from 10 countries. We study 500 children whose parents or siblings have tics. We expect one third of them to develop tics themselves. A second study group includes 700 children with tics. Our question is: what factors determine who develops tics and changes in the frequency and severity of tics?

Elucidating the causes of tics

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Image credits

Background image: Brad Flickinger

Portrait of the project coordinator: EMTICS

Timeline (in chronological order): 1918-1926: Ranveig; 2005: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention