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Personal profile

Personal information

Eva-Maria Merz is a sociologist with a background in family studies and demography. She combines her theoretical and quantitative methodological expertise within the topic of (blood) donor behaviour in order to study donor life-courses and the influence of personal and social network characteristics on donor behaviour.

Donating substances of human origin, a very specific type of pro-social behaviour, is a complex and dynamic act that is determined by individual and social characteristics. My own passion for this subject stems from my scientific involvement with different types of prosocial behaviour, for example family care, and my fascination with public health and medical care issues. After having finished a Bachelor in Medicine, I became aware of the very importance of social relationships, networks and life-course elements that influence health and prosocial behaviour. This led me to obtain a Master’s degree in Social Sciences and a PhD in Developmental Psychology. I now combine my multidisciplinary orientation within the scientific and societally pressing topic of donor behaviour. My research benefits from my theoretical expertise in social science theories on prosocial behaviour and my fruitful collaborations within the Dutch Blood Bank and the Netherlands Association of Donor Medicine. Combining insights from social and health sciences will set the stage for a comprehensive and innovative view on donor behaviour to ultimately improve health care.


Blood products, given by donors are of utmost importance for patient care. Demographic change, increased longevity, and decreasing donor numbers put pressure on the blood supply. Hence, effective recruitment and retention is crucial to safeguard sufficient donor availability. Therefore, we need to understand why and when individuals donate blood. Within our group we try to shed light on this intriguing question. Donating blood is costly, requiring time, knowledge and health resources. Various groups of factors, including demographic (e.g. sex), psychosocial (e.g. trust, anxiety), and biological (e.g. genes, hormones) ones have been proposed to explain donor behavior. Besides, economic mechanisms (e.g. reciprocity--helping because you have been helped) and heritability (from twin studies) have been offered. Departing from theories about pro-social behaviour including altruism, and economic mechanisms, we examine determinants of becoming and remaining a donor across the life course. Thereby, we include, psychological, social and biological donor characteristics as well as donor networks and geographical and cultural context.

Prizes and Awards

2017    VU Faculty of Social Sciences Wilhelmina Drucker Talent Award Early Career (€ 1.500)

2014    Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Aspasia Talent Grant (€ 200.000)

2012    European Society on Family Relations (ESFR) Young Scientist Award 


2018 ERC Starting Grant Who Gives Life? Understanding, Explaining and Predicting Donor Behavior (€ 1.272,500)

2018 PPO Sanquin Research Grant Social Media and Blood Donor Behavior: New Ways of Effective Communication (€ 438.000)
2017 PPO Sanquin Research Grant Managing Donor Deferral: Preventing Donor Loss (€ 70.000)
2016 Research Collaboration Grant  CHICAGO STUDY “Donor motivation in the general  population” University of Chicago (€ 12.000)
2016 3rd Health Program of the European Commission – Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency Grant TRANSPOSE. Transfusion and Transplantation: Protection and Selection of Donors (€ 549.479)
2015 PPO Sanquin Research Grant  Donor Careers. The Influence of Individual, Network and Contextual Factors on Donor Behaviour (€ 304.000)
2015 PPO Sanquin Research Grant Facilitators and Barriers for RhD-Immunised Women to Become and Remain Anti-D Donor (€ 67.000)
2014 Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Aspasia Grant to promote female academics  to senior lecturer level (€ 200.000)
2009 NWO Longitudinal Survey and Panel Funding for Wave 3 of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (NKPS) (€ 245.000)





Ancillary activities

  • Sanquin Research | Amsterdam | Medewerker | 2017-09-12 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Education/Academic qualification

Developmental Psychology, PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


Social Sciences (cum laude), Master, Free University of Berlin



  • H Social Sciences
  • Prosocial Behaviour
  • Blood Donation
  • Donor Motivation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Eva-Maria Merz is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Blood Donors Medicine & Life Sciences
Tissue Donors Medicine & Life Sciences
Netherlands Medicine & Life Sciences
Adult Children Medicine & Life Sciences
Parents Medicine & Life Sciences
Mother-Child Relations Medicine & Life Sciences
Demography Medicine & Life Sciences
Blood Transfusion Medicine & Life Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2006 2019

(Non-)donor demographics, donation willingness, and the donor career

Piersma, T. W. & Merz, E. M., 1 Jan 2019, In : Transfusion.

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access

Beyond Description: The Predictive Role of Affect, Memory, and Context in the Decision to Donate or Not Donate Blood

Masser, B., Ferguson, E., Merz, E. M. & Williams, L., 1 Jan 2019, In : Transfusion Medicine and Hemotherapy.

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Tissue Donors
Blood Donors
Decision Making
Decision Theory

Blood donation across the life course: the influence of life events on donor lapse

Piersma, T. W., Bekkers, R. H. F. P., De Kort, W. L. A. M. & Merz, E. M., 1 Jun 2019, In : Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 60, 2, p. 257-272 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Blood Donors
Tissue Donors
Blood Transfusion

Current practices in donor selection and protection across european countries and suggestions for improvement-the case of blood and plasma

Merz, E., Mori, G., Van Den Hurk, K., Van Walraven, S. & Van Kraaij, M., 2019, In : Vox Sanguinis. 114 (Suppl, p. 71

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Donor Selection
Tissue Donors
Patient Selection
Assisted Reproductive Techniques

Deferral rate variability in blood donor eligibility assessment

de Kort, W., Prinsze, F., Nuboer, G., Twisk, J. & Merz, E-M., Jan 2019, In : Transfusion. 59, 1, p. 242-249 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Blood Donors
Tissue Donors
Logistic Models

Activities 2005 2017

  • 25 Lecture / Presentation
  • 4 Editorial work
  • 1 Expert meeting

ISBT Science Series (Journal)

Eva-Maria Merz (Reviewer)

Activity: Peer review and Editorial workEditorial workAcademic

ISBT Science Series (Journal)

Eva-Maria Merz (Reviewer)

Activity: Peer review and Editorial workEditorial workAcademic

Who Gives Blood? Understanding Donor Motivation and Behaviour

Eva-Maria Merz (Speaker)
May 2017

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic

Personal characteristics of blood donors influence their non-medical withdrawal

Eva-Maria Merz (Speaker)
Jul 2017

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic

ISBT Science Series (Journal)

Eva-Maria Merz (Reviewer)

Activity: Peer review and Editorial workEditorial workAcademic


ERC Starting Grant

Eva-Maria Merz (Recipient), Jul 2018



NWO Aspasia

Eva-Maria Merz (Recipient), 2015



Wilhelmina Drucker Award

Eva-Maria Merz (Recipient), 2017


Young Scientist Award

Eva-Maria Merz (Recipient), 2012



Press / Media

Blood donation and stress

Eva-Maria Merz & Maurits Hoogerwerf


2 items of media coverage, 1 media contribution

Press/Media: Research

Blood donation and stress

Eva-Maria Merz


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Research