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Stem Cells in Drug Research


Admission requirements

This course is mandatory for and restricted to students who follow the Elective Module DSDT. Furthermore, a maximum of 10 additional places are available for students who follow the minor ‘Computational Approaches to Disease Signaling and Drug Targets’ (CADSDT). In case more than 10 of the latter students apply, students will be selected based on a motivation letter; all students will perform similar wet lab projects. Occasionally, and on request, a more computationally oriented project may be available for students with a strong interest in computational research, availability can however not be guaranteed for 2023-24.


In this course students will learn basic and advanced topics in stem cell biology and apply the knowledge in drug research. The research projects will focus on differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells and the application of knowledge to innovative models for drug discovery and safety. The topics are directly related to current research performed at the Division of Drug Discovery and Safety. Tissue culture, gene expression analysis, and imaging and/or computational approaches will play important roles in the course.

Course objectives

After the course, the student will be able to:

  • Understand the principles of stem and progenitor cell biology

  • Explain mechanisms genetic, biochemical and signaling cascades underlying the proliferation and differentiation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells

  • Understand cellular reprogramming

  • Interpret literature and experiments involving use of stem, differentiated cells and reprogrammed cells for stem cell-derived models for drug discovery and safety

  • Analyze stem and differentiated states using molecular, computational and/or imaging approaches

  • Present and discuss research and literature findings on stem cell biology and stem cell-derived models for drug discovery with fellow students

  • Perform and present gene expression dataset analysis


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 successfully 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 on MyTimeTable, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable.

Always check the detailed schedule on the Brightspace module of each Course 2-3 weeks before the start of the Course for group-specific meetings, (intermediate) deadlines, etc..

Mode of instruction

During this course students will follow lectures, perform practical lab work, apply quantitative analysis, and present their results. The 4 week course involves lectures and short written assignments, in parallel to tissue culture experiments using iPS cells, their differentiation to spontaneously beating heart tissue, and its subsequent exposure to compounds. Time-lapse and advanced imaging of stem cells will be demonstrated. Students will make an exam to test the theoretical knowledge and present a short report to wrap up their experimental results. Students will be supervised by the lecturer, student assistants and technicians throughout the course. The course will include learning of gene expression dataset analysis. The preparation and practical work will take place in groups of 2-3 students.

Assessment method

  • Exam: 35%

  • Hand-in: 10%

  • Presentation, including quantitative data analysis: 20%

  • Lab work: 35%

Students are graded individually in these categories.

Reading list


All students will be registered for this course in uSis by the Minor coordinator.


  • Dhr. Prof. Dr. M.E. Drukker and Dhr. B.L.T. Tak, MSc