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Signal Transduction and Hallmarks of Cancer


Admission requirements

Master BPS; Basic knowledge of Cell Biology and Biochemistry.


Cancer is a complex disease in which mutations in the DNA cause aberrant cellular signaling that ultimately affects critical cell functions. Several hallmarks of cancer have been defined including cell autonomous aberrations affecting survival, proliferation, and metabolism as well as altered communication with multiple cell types in the cancer microenvironment. Together, these hallmarks allow tumors to develop, grow, metastasize, and evade therapies.

This course aims to introduce the complexity of cancer as a disease with a focus on signal transduction cascades mediating the hallmarks of cancer and raise students’ interest in opportunities to translate this knowledge to cancer therapies.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the various hallmarks of cancer.

  • Knowledge of the signaling pathways in control of these hallmarks of cancer.

  • Knowledge of the different aspects of the tumor microenvironment.

  • Understanding the impact of the tumor micro environment on disease progression.

  • Understanding the complexity of the disease.

  • Understanding how this complexity complicates therapies but may also provide new avenues for therapy.


This course is scheduled for semester 2, period 3.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

A detailed schedule of the course will be published on the Brightspace course module.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and paper discussions.

Assessment method

Written Exam (70%), written assignment (30%). No minimum grade for the components. Pass/fail for presence and active participation in paper discussions.

For each individual exam, the grade is expressed either with pass or fail, or by using a decimal integer between 1.0 and 10.0. The final grade is expressed using an integer between 1 and 10 and can be rounded off/up to a half integer, with the exception of the grade 5.5. Final grades between 5.50 and 5.99 will be rounded up to 6.0. The final grade should be 6.0 to successfully complete this course.

The time and manner of the inspection and of the feedback session on the examination are specified in the Brightspace module of the course.

Reading list

  • Albert et al, Molecular Biology of the Cell.

  • Hanahan D. and Weinberg RA (2011) Hallmarks of Cancer: The Next Generation. Cell 144:646-674.

  • Hanahan D. (2022) Hallmarks of Cancer: New Dimensions. Cancer Discov. 12:31-46.

  • Papers assigned by teachers.


Every student has to register for courses with the enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. If you want to retake of the exam of the course without following the lectures, you have to contact the coordinator of the course to see if this is possible (you would have to passed the other assignments of the course in the earlier year).
Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Coordinator: Prof. dr. E.H.J. Danen;


This course has maximum of 50 participants.

This information is without prejudice. Alterations can be made for next year.