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Molecular targets in cancer therapy


Admission requirements

For participating in a Half Minor, students are advised to have obtained 60 ECTS from the first year.

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 half-minor utilizes and extends your basic knowledge on molecular biology and oncology, and helps you translate this knowledge to investigate cancer treatment possibilities. The first 4 weeks of the course teaches the current concepts of translational research, while also focussing 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 part 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, interpret obtained results 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 problem, 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 has been raised during the course using.


All course and group schedules are published on our LUMC scheduling website or on the LUMC scheduling app.

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 model. 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 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, explanation of methods/techniques used, explanation of results (using figures, tables presented in the manuscript) and 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 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 student enrolled to 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 scientist, 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 are more general theme (as discussed in the ethical workgroup) 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 for the whole group including tutor clinicians (10% of this part). The final proposal will be graded for scientific background, 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 part 1 and 2.
This critical appraisal may be

  • mini-internship

  • Literature study/review
    There will be regular feedback sessions and feedback from the tutor(s).

Part 3: Mini-internship (BW-track students)

The learning goals of the mini-internship are:
The student will
1. understand the science behind this project, and show this by reading paper(s) to obtain relevant information
2. learn what research in a lab encompasses and develop some very basic lab skills within a small project by performing some simple molecular and biochemical experiments frequently used in (cancer) research
3. Interpret results, draw conclusions and design (simple) molecular and biochemical experiments frequently used in (cancer) research
4. Present and discuss these results in a presentation for his/her peers
5. Write a report in English on this short research internship

Examination committee:

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

Examination dates:

Signalling in cancer (30%) on 25-Sept-2020, debriefing on the exam; Re-exam on, debriefing on re-exam.
Practical course report: Due date 25-Sept-2020
Clinical trial proposal presentation, final report (40%) on 16-Oct-2020, debriefing on 23-Oct-2020.
Honours class program student following BW track will be graded based on their laboratory work and presentation, debriefing
Literature Study (40%) with multiple feed-back sessions. Submission due date of the written review is 06-Nov-2020. Grading and feedback will be given 20-Nov-2020.
The final presentation of the mini internship and submission deadline of the written report is 06 Nov 2020. Grading and feedback will be given 20-Nov-2020.
Each module has to be passed, no compensation is possible for the final grade.

Reading list

In the assignments, the following books will be used (please borrow or buy these books if you do not have them and/or look in the library):

  • Alberts et al.: The biology of the cell, 6th edition, 2015, ISBN: 978-0-8153-4432-2 (hardcover) ISBN 978-0-8153-4464-3 (paperback).

  • Kumar et al.: Robbins and Contran Pathologic basis of disease. 9th edition, 2015, ISBN 978-1-4557-2613-4

  • Rang & Dale: Pharmacology

  • Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine (18th ed.), online available through the Walaeus library

Literature should be considered as part of the course, which means that the information given is part of the examination. For legal reasons the “pdf” files of published literature may not be included in the coursebook (printed or electronic), the referred literature should be accessed by the students through the library web page links and saved by them as an individual end-user (for more info see the Blackboard module).

During the whole minor, two major papers will be frequently referred to and you are expected to be familiarized by most of the concepts presented therein by the end of the 4th week. The hallmarks of cancer. Hanahan D, Weinberg RA. Cell. 2000 Jan 7;100(1):57-70.
Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation. Hanahan D, Weinberg RA. Cell. 2011 Mar 4;144(5):646-74.



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