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Genome (in)stability, cancer and ageing


Admission requirements

  • Successful completion of How To Write A Research Proposal is strongly recommended.

  • The course will be given at second year Master level. An introductory review on DNA repair and Mutagenesis describes basic starting-level knowledge of the field, and can be obtained from the coordinator.


Period: 4 March 2019 - 29 March 2019

Content of the course:

The stability of our genome is under constant threat, but some instability is required to enable evolution. Key players in maintaining genome stability are protein complexes involved in DNA replication, DNA repair, DNA damage tolerance, DNA damage signalling, cell cycle control and apoptosis. Defects in these systems may lead to increased mutations, chromosomal instability and ultimately to cancer while these systems also play crucial roles in cellular senescence and organismal aging. In this course you will get insights in these processes but also training in how mechanistic, curiosity-driven, scientific research is conducted. Emphasis will be put on critical thinking.

  • Weeks 1 and 2:
    You will acquire essential basic knowledge through introductory lectures given by experts in the field and through workgroups. You will study and discuss key reviews, read and present recent literature and get practicals.

  • Weeks 3 and 4:
    Small groups (3 persons) each focus on a specific defect in genetic stability or a particular syndrome. The students will attend lectures on various aspects of genome (in)stability and its consequences for fitness and disease by experts in these fields.

There will furthermore be a microsymposium presented by scientists in the field. The students will meet and talk with patients with cancer predisposition resulting from an inherited genome instability syndrome. The groups will critically review a scientific manuscript and discuss missing and conflicting data in a written report and by oral presentation. Then the groups will write a short proposal for an experiment and defend this proposal for their colleagues and for a panel of researchers.

This course will particularly work on:

Research competences:
Analytical and critical thinking, reading and writing, conducting scientific discussions, defining a research question, choosing appropriate techniques, writing a research proposal.

Professional competences:
Collaborating with peers, digesting of other people’s opinions, reflecting on personal actions, critical, analytical and independent thinking, working under pressure of deadlines, attacking and defending scientific models.

Course objectives

The student can:
1. Understands the processes that safeguard genome stability and disease.
2. Understands the consequences for fitness and disease.
3. Shows a deep understanding of a specific subject related to the course topic.
4. Understands the conduct of mechanistic, biomedical research.
5. Shows the ability to review an report or scientific manuscript and in doing so applying gained understanding and insights about relevant topics.
6. Shows the ability to draw up a scientifically sound research proposal and in doing so applying gained understanding and insights about relevant topics.
7. Shows the ability to apply gained understanding and insights about a relevant topic to an experimental approach.
8. Shows the ability to convey this knowledge and discrepancies in views to the other students.
9. Shows communication skills in order to write and present coherently and convincingly while taking into account modern presentation and writing principles.
10. Shows the ability to work together with peers and tutor constructively.
11. Shows the ability for critical thinking and in doing so being critical yet constructive and eager to improve oneself.


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

Mode of instruction

Plenary sessions, self-study assignments, work groups, active participation in patient encounter, scientific discussions, microsymposium.

Course load

Total course load is the amount of EC’s multiplied with 28 hours.

Assessment method

Summative assessment:

  • Review report of scientific manuscript

  • Research proposal

  • Student behaviour (motivation, participation in discussions, insights, critical thinking, argumentation, independency).

  • Oral presentation and defense of review report, research proposal and practicals


Blackboard will be used during this course.

Reading list

Will be distributed during the course.


Registration for FOS courses, H2W, Scientific Conduct, How to start, Course on Animal Science , and CRiP and Adv concepts courses takes place in lottery rounds in the beginning of July. After the lottery rounds: if you want to register for a course you are kindly asked to contact the student administration at