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Molecular Targets in Cancer Therapy


Admission requirements

See Brightspace for the admission requirements.

International Students should have an adequate background in Medicine. Admission will be considered based on CV and motivation letter.
For more information, please contact


This course utilizes and extends your basic knowledge of molecular biology and oncology, and helps you translate this knowledge to investigate cancer treatment possibilities. The first 4 weeks of the course teach the current concepts of translational research, while also focusing on molecular pathways containing targets for novel treatments. Six tumour conditions (Sezary syndrome, giant cell tumour of bone, breast cancer, renal cell carcinoma, melanoma and lung cancer) will be discussed in-depth while following the central theme: signalling in cancer and from bench to bedside clinical translation via targeted therapy. In the second part of the course (3 weeks) students have to design and write a novel or improved clinical trial proposal for targeted therapy in cancer, based on recent literature data. Students will select one of the 6 major topics discussed in part 1. The assignment will be performed in groups of 2-3 students. The final part of the course (3 weeks) will be dedicated to writing a literature review on a specialized topic. Students can choose their favourite topic related to all the issues that have been raised in parts 1 and 2. A medical student following the BW-track program will not write a review but will perform a mini-internship in one of the departments of the LUMC.

Course objectives

By completing this course, the student will be able to describe signalling pathways controlling cell proliferation and differentiation with special attention to the in detail studied cancer types. Based on the knowledge they could reflect how impaired regulatory pathways can be utilised for designing better, targeted treatment strategies. They will be able to explain how biological markers can be identified and implemented in translational medicine. They will be able to perform simple molecular and biochemical experiments and interpret obtained results to conclude these tests that are frequently used in cancer research. They will be able to propose an innovative therapeutic strategy that might be developed for targeting specific oncological problems, and formulate an opinion on the design and implementation of a clinical trial to test new therapeutic agents. Students will acquire the essentials of clinical trial design and write a proposal which will include an additional opinion paper on crucial ethical and regulatory steps involved in innovative cancer therapies.
Finally, students will prepare an appraisal literature review on a specialized topic selected from their favourite topic related to one of the issues that has been raised during the course using.


All course and group schedules are published on MyTimeTable.

The exam dates have been determined by the Education Board and are published in MyTimeTable.
It will be announced in MyTimeTable and/or Brightspace when and how the post-exam feedback will be organized.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, workgroups, self-study assignments, literature discussions, tutor sessions, practical course, clinical teaching and patient demonstrations.

Assessment method

Part 1: Introduction to Signalling (4 wks)

Open exam assay questions:
The exam consists of 19 open questions based on previously evaluated questions and answer models. The grade constitutes 30% of the final mark.
Grading: 1-10 marks, minimum pass 55% of the points.
Assessed by 2 tutors.

Practical work:
The practical course will require self-study. The practical experiments are complementary to experimental protocols used for drug discovery screening. The obtained results of this practical course will be presented and written in a report that will contribute 10% to your grade for part 1. Grading report: 1-10 points and grades are added to the open exam grades.
Assessed by the tutor.

Literature study:
This assignment will be performed in groups of 2-3 students, depending on the group size to study and present a manuscript preselected and related to the various tumour entities studied in this half minor. The presentation should include the research question presented in the manuscript, an explanation of methods/techniques used, an explanation of results (using figures, and tables presented in the manuscript) and a Discussion of the results. Finally, the presented work should be related to core book concepts and figures. For better group discussion, 2 or 3 students (again depending on the group size) will be asked to read the same manuscript and prepare questions and comments. Participation in the discussion and the quality of the presentation will be assessed by the tutor.
Grading: Pass/no pass (obligatory for passing part 1)
Assessed by the tutor.

Part 2: Clinical trial protocol (3 wks)

Writing a clinical trial protocol:
In the clinical trial protocol module (part 2) students will form small groups (2 or 3 depending on the actual number of students enrolled on this half minor) and select a cancer modality, out of those discussed in part 1, as a model for targeted therapy. With the guidelines, self-study assignments and lectures students will be able to draft a trial protocol and present their proposal.
During the tutor sessions, students will consult their tutor (expert clinician or scientist) and get feedback on the setup. Clinicians and scientists, who presented the different cancer types with the underlying mechanism in part 1 will be the tutors. (10% of part 2).
A personal ethical statement on the protocol is a more general theme (as discussed in the ethical workgroup) and should be written by each student and be submitted for evaluation by course coordinators (5% of this part).
The final trial proposal will be peer-reviewed by fellow students and the quality of the review will be graded by the course coordinators (15% of this part).
Finally, the proposal will be presented to the whole group including tutor clinicians (10% of this part). The final proposal will be graded for scientific background, and adherence to clinical trial proposal guidelines (60% of this part).
Grading: 1-10 mark, minimum pass 55% of the points. It contributes to 30% of the final marks.
Assessed by 2 tutors

Clinical teaching (patient contact)

During the half minor various clinical activities will be organized. Students will follow Multidisciplinary tumour meetings (MDO) for various tumour types, see patients themselves (bedside teaching), follow the grand rounds of the department of Medical Oncology, follow the operation of a patient with a sarcoma (Orthopaedics) and have a patient demonstration (theme 1).
Participation is obligatory.
Grading: Pass/no pass.
Assessed by tutors and involved clinicians.

Part 3: A literature review

The final part of the course (3 weeks) will be dedicated to writing a literature review on a specialized topic. Students can choose their favourite topic related to all the issues that have been raised in parts 1 and 2.
This critical appraisal will be

  • Literature study/review related to cancer or oncology
    There will be regular feedback sessions and feedback from the tutor(s).

Examination committee:

K. Szuhai (MD, PhD), T. van der Hulle (MD, PhD), J. van der Zee (PhD).

Examination dates:

Signalling in cancer (30%) on 29-Sept-2023, debriefing on the exam; Re-exam on, debriefing on re-exam.
Practical course report: Due date 01-Oct-2023
Clinical trial proposal presentation, final report (40%) on 20-Oct-2023, debriefing on 27-Oct-2020.

Literature Study (40%) with multiple feedback sessions. The submission due date of the written review is 10-Nov-2023. Grading and feedback will be given 24-Nov-2023.

Each module has to be passed, no compensation is possible for the final grade.

Reading list

You can find the complete reading list for the bachelor of Medicine here.


Information about the registration process can be found on the Brightspace course Half Minors.


Dr Karoly Szuhai
Cell and Chemical Biology +31-71-5269222

Dr Tom van der Hulle
Medical Oncology +31-71-5262489

Dr Jolanda van der Zee
Cell and Chemical Biology
For Honours Class, BW-track program students