The Genetics Retreat was first held in 1990. In those days, most NWO grants supported PhD projects; the PhD students were required to provide yearly progress reports. In the late eighties, four human genetics research communities in the Netherlands decided to jointly organize these yearly sessions. Both the organization as well as the meeting venue alternated.
In 1990 Ruud Schuurman, PhD (University Leiden) and professor Joep Geraedts (Maastricht University) opted for the newly established conference centre at the former Augustinian abbey of Rolduc (Kerkrade, the Netherlands). Because of its unique atmosphere the meeting was so successful that it was decided to return to this site from then on, and thus a tradition was born.
Over the years the NWO granting system has changed and the mandatory yearly progress meetings became facultative. The Genetics Retreat, however, remained the meeting event in genetics for PhD students and their supervisors.