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Model organisms in cancer drug discovery and development


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


In this course, Model organisms in cancer drug discovery and development, prominent scientists will discuss the latest advances concerning the utility of different model systems for cancer research. Model systems that will be discussed include yeast, nematodes, fruit flies, zebrafish, mice, and advanced cell culture systems. To put these model systems into a clinical perspective, also advantages and limitations of patient studies will be discussed.
Many genes involved in cancer initiation and progression in humans have functional counterparts in well-studied genetically tractable model organisms such as mice, flies and worms, and even in simple organisms such as yeast and bacteria. Model organisms provide powerful tools to accelerate the discovery of cancer genes and pathways. In this course we will discuss how information relevant for cancer research can be revealed in model organisms through functional genomic screens, via in-depth dissection of complex pathways in well-defined genetic systems, or by the generation of animal models for human cancer. We will discuss the relevance of model organisms for (i) discovery of cancer genes and drug targets, (ii) drug discovery and development, and (iii) the development of new technologies.


Prof. Dr. J. Jonkers ( and Dr. R.J.P. Bouwman (

Admission requirements

Bachelor in Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences or other Life Sciences. Adequate knowledge of molecular genetics at the level of a masters student is expected.

Mode of instruction

1) Every morning, before the seminars, we will discuss two papers (1 key publication for each seminar). For each paper, two students will give a presentation and two students will write a short review that addresses the strong and weak aspects of the study.
2) After each lecture, the students will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the lecture content with the guest seminar speaker. These discussions should also provide new ideas about how the different model systems can be used for drug target identification, target validation and drug discovery.
3) At the end of the course the students will have 4 days to prepare for the essay exam, which will consist of 8 questions. Each question will consist of 3-4 parts.

Reading list

Will be announced during the course.

Course objectives

The aim of this course is to give an in-depth view of how model organisms are invaluable for the discovery and validation of novel drug targets in oncology, and for the development of novel anticancer drugs. The course will exist of presentations by expert speakers. You will study selected papers of the speakers in detail and will discuss the papers in literature discussions before the seminars.

Assessment method

  • Written review of selected research paper (15%)

  • Presentation of selected research paper (15%)

  • Essay exam (70%)


The course is taught in April through May 2019, details to be announced via Blackboard.


Application via uSis. Registration closes 1 month before the start of the course or earlier when the maximum number of students is reached.


The enrollment limits for this course are: a minimum of 5 students and a maximum of 24 students.