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Disease, Signalling and Drug Targets


The Minor Disease, Signalling and Drug Targets (DSDT) is focused on basic scientific research required for discovery of new drug targets and development of new drugs. Cancer and Cardiovascular disease are discussed as important examples of progressive diseases which contribute substantially to morbidity and mortality in the ageing population.
Chronic progressive diseases result from changes at the cellular level that disturb the biology of healthy tissue. Dissection of the primary molecular mechanisms that underlie both the initiation as well as progression of disease processes leads to the identification of novel targets for drug intervention. The regulation of cell biological processes occurs by complex, cell specific signal transduction cascades both within affected cells as well as between different cell types in the affected tissue and/or organism.

Goal of this Minor is to provide insight into general signal transduction pathways and how these pathways are altered in disease. It also shows how these alterations in signaling can be dissected using state-of-the-art (molecular biological) techniques and how fundamental research of these processes can be used for the discovery of new drug targets.

Moreover, this minor also shows how insights in the changes in molecular pathways of disease constitute the basis for the identification of biomarkers that can be used for monitoring disease progression in patients. This is important for the development of new drugs aiming at modification of disease progression. Mechanism-based pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and disease progression models are presented which, in combination with new biomarkers, constitute a novel scientific basis to assess the effects of novel drug treatments in clinical trials.

When foreign students follow the Minor, all lectures and exams will be in English; students may however answer in Dutch.

Admission requirements

Admission criteria apply to this Minor (see Appendix 3 of the Education and Exam regulation BSc Programmes (OER)). This Minor is particularly suitable for students in Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biology, Biomedical Sciences and Life Science & Technology who have successfully completed their first-year examination (Propedeuse). In addition, the course ‘Thema Effecten van Geneesmiddelen 1’, ‘Life Sciences’, or an equivalent course must have been successfully completed before the start of the Minor.

This Minor consists of integrated courses and is meant to deepen the insight into the role of signaling in development of disease as well as therapeutic intervention. The programme cannot be split into two parts of 15 EC.

Minimum/maximum capacity: 10/40. Since DSDT is a popular minor, a placement procedure applies when the number of applicants exceeds 40. This procedure is described below.


Application occurs via uSis, between May 1st and June 15th 2016 and all students will remain on a waiting list in uSis until final placement. The class number required to enroll in uSis can be found (from beginning of April) via the Faculty Website Sign up for classes


  • Students from Leiden University of aforementioned programmes including all LST-students must register via uSis

  • Non LST-students from the Technical University Delft (TUD) or the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) may register via the Application Form (available on this website from May 1st until May 31st 2016). For this category of students a maximum of 13 places is available in the minor DSDT. From June 1st on, these students can register via the Minor Coordinator.

  • All students outside Leiden University, TUD or EUR should always apply via the Minor Coordinator between May 1st and June 15th 2016.

In view of the high number of applications on May 1st, the Minor Disease, Signalling and Drug Targets has a special placement procedure for students who register in uSis on May 1st between 00.00.01 o’clock and 08.59.59 o’clock:

  • All students who register in uSis on May 1st between 00.00.01 o’clock and 08.59.59 o’clock will be treated as if they registered at the same time and will be named ‘Group 1 DSDT’.

  • All students who register in uSis on or after May 1st at 09.00.00 o’clock will be named ‘Group 2 DSDT’.

  • ‘Group 1 DSDT’ has priority over ‘Group 2 DSDT’.

  • Within 5 working days after May 1st, all students in ‘Group 1 DSDT’ will be assigned a random number (in the presence of the Educational Coordinator BFW/BPS and a student member of the Department Teaching Committee) and they will be reordered based on the assigned random number resulting in a so called ‘Lottery List DSDT’. Placement in the Minor DSDT is based on the ‘Lottery List DSDT’, i.e. the student that has been assigned number one on the ‘Lottery List DSDT’ will be admitted first and the highest number will be admitted last. The ‘Lottery List DSDT’ will be made available to all students involved. Please note that the basic admission requirements as described above always apply.

  • Students with a number on the ‘Lottery List DSDT’ from 1 to 26 (inclusive) are admitted directly if they meet the admission requirements.

  • Students with number 27, or a higher number, on the ‘Lottery List DSDT’ may be placed in the order dictated by the ‘Lottery List DSDT’ when less than 33% TUD or EUR students are admitted or whenever a position becomes available.

  • Students in ‘Group 2 DSDT’ are placed when a position in the minor becomes available and the position cannot be filled by a student from ‘Group 1 DSDT’. Placement of students from ‘Group 2 DSDT’ is according to the original order of registration on the uSis waiting list (admission requirements as described above always apply).


Coordinator: Prof. Dr. B. van de Water


  • The Minor Disease, Signalling and Drug Targets starts on September 5th 2016 at 9.00 a.m. in a lecture room at the Gorlaeus Laboratories.