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Top Lectures in MCB


Admission requirements

A BSc in Biology or related subject (University or HLO), with a solid theoretical and practical training in Genetics, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Cell Biology and Microbiology, and sufficient knowledge of Mathematics and Statistics. Preferably, students have successfully finished the courses Fundamentals of MCB and Orientation on MCB research, and established a concept MCB MSc program approved by the Board of Examiners.

Contact information

Coordinator: Dr. Remko Offringa
Email: r.offringa@biology.leidenuniv.nl


Top Lectures will be based on a selection of lectures by invited experts in the field that should be understandable for MSc students and IBL staff, and should give an overview of molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern development and growth in micro-organisms, plants, animals and humans. An important aspect of the course will be to learn to critically evaluate scientific data, and the hypotheses/models derived from these data.

This course differs from the Colloquium Course in the MCB curriculum in that speakers actively participate in the teaching part, and that the participants of this course have to thoroughly prepare for each lecture, as they are expected to actively engage in the scientific discussion.

Learning goals

To gain in-depth insight in molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling development and growth, for example by external factors and signals. One important aspect is to learn how to approach research when studying a specific biological process, using state-of-the-art molecular and cell biology methods. Also students are trained to critically evaluate published data.

Course objectives:
To stimulate the scientific environment for students and IBL staff, by organizing lectures by specialists in the field that are accessible to MSc students and IBL staff. To practice active participation in scientific discussions, and to stimulate interaction with TOP SPEAKERS.

Final qualifications:
A more advanced MSc student with a broad theoretical background on a range of MCB research topics that is able to comprehend and summarize lectures by MCB specialists.


The course can be entered at any time, and has no fixed time table. We aim to organize at least 4 Top Lectures per semester. The tentative schedule is provided below:

Date, Speaker, Subject
January 22 : Prof. Ian Baldwin, Molecular ecology of plant-herbivore interactions
January 31: Prof Jan Traas, Mechanical signals in plant development
March 14: Prof. Leendert Hamoen, New antibiotics against nasty bacteria
April 28: Prof. Anna Huttenlocher, Cell migration during cancer metastasis and inflammation
May 9: Prof. Corne Pieterse, The plant immune system
June 13: Prof. Niko Geldner, Establishing a diffusion and pathogen barrier in plant roots

The final date, time and place of each lecture will be announced in the Sylvius building, on Blackboard and at websites (e.g. IBL, Sciences)

Mode of instruction

The course will be a combined seminar/caput format. Students will prepare themselves on the topic of each Top Lecture by reading a selection of scientific articles (provided by the speaker). Before the Top Lecture the articles will be summarized by one or two of the course participants (each participant has to be involved in preparing at least one summarizing lecture). Subsequently, the group will critically evaluate the existing models and hypotheses in the field, in a discussion with the invited speaker. After that (same or next day) the invited expert will give a Top Lecture and students are expected to give comments and ask critical questions.

Assessment method

The evaluation will be based on the presentation of the field (each student is expected to organize one lecture during participation), the active participation in scientific discussions, and on the short written summaries of each lecture (maximally 1 page per lecture): 0.5 EC per Top Lecture.


New opportunities will be highlighted on Blackboard

Reading list

The invited speakers will provide a list of articles that the students have to read in preparation of the Top Lecture.


Registration in Usis and Enroll on Blackboard, and send an email with full name, and student- and phone number to the coordinator: Dr. Remko Offringa, email: r.offringa@biology.leidenuniv.nl

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.


The Top Lectures will be announced in the Sylvius building, on Black board and at websites (e.g. IBL, Sciences).