Iris Sommer studied public health and medicine in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She did her PhD on language in patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorder with Rene Kahn and Nick Ramsey in Utrecht University and specialized as a psychiatrist in UMC Utrecht, were she started the Voices Clinic. Her research demonstrated the cerebral underpinning of auditory verbal hallucinations, which she used for patient-education. In 2014 she was appointed member of the Young Dutch Academy of Science. She also writes popular scientific books on hallucinations, brain disorders, perception and gender differences in the brain, from which two became best-sellers.
In 2017 she moved to Groningen where she was appointed director of the research institute Brain& Cognition at the University Medical Center Groningen. She leads several trials aiming at improving prognosis for patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, including the large HAMLETT-OPHELIA cohort to investigate the long term aspects of antipsychotic medication. She recently received the Dutch Brain Foundation anniversary price for her work on the gut-brain axis, in people with psychotic and other brain disorders. In 2021 she was welcomed as member of the Holland Academy of Science.