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Computational Approaches to Disease, Signaling and Drug Targets


The Minor Computational Approaches to Disease, Signaling and Drug Targets (CADSDT) is focused on fundamental scientific research required for discovery of new drug targets and development of new drugs. Since computational modelling approaches are increasingly important in disease and drug research, the first part of the minor focusses on modelling skills and computational thinking. In the second part of the minor students learn how disease- and drug-induced alterations in signaling pathways can be used for the discovery of new drug targets and the development of personalized drug treatments.

Chronic progressive diseases such as cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, or cardiovascular disease 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 diseases can lead 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 and between different cell types in the affected tissue and/or organism. The interactions of drugs with the biological system can also be studied at these different levels.

The goal of this Minor is to provide insight into general signal transduction pathways, how these pathways are altered in disease and upon modulation with pharmacological agents and how fundamental research of these processes can be used for the discovery of new drug targets. Importantly, a large part of the Minor focuses on exploiting computational approaches to achieve these goals (which are practiced by hands-on exercises). For example, it shows how these alterations in signaling can be dissected using modeling of network dynamics as well as bio- and cheminformatics approaches. Furthermore, this Minor 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 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)). The Minor CADSDT may be split into two parts of 15 EC as shown below but courses cannot be taken separately as an elective course. This Minor as a whole is particularly suitable for students in Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biology (& Informatics), Biomedical Sciences and Life Science & Technology. Students in Mathematics, Informatics and Molecular Science & Technology with a strong interest in and basic knowledge of Biology are welcome to apply for Part 1 of the Minor. All students need to have successfully completed their first-year examination (Propedeuse). An additional admission requirement applies to Part 2 of the Minor: students must have successfully completed the course ‘Thema Effecten van Geneesmiddelen 1’, ‘Life Sciences’, or an equivalent course before the start of Part 2 of the Minor CADSDT.

There are max. 10 places available for students who follow only a single 15 EC part of the Minor (e.g. either Part 1 ór Part 2), and the remaining 30 places are available for students who follow all courses of the Minor. Minimum/maximum capacity in total: 10/40.


Application occurs via uSis, between May 1st and June 15th 2018 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 2018). For this category of students a maximum of 13 places is available in the minor CADSDT. From June 1st on, these students can apply 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 2018.


Coordinator: Prof. Dr. B. van de Water and Dr. M. Huigsloot


The Minor Computational Approaches to Disease, Signaling and Drug Targets starts on September 3rd 2018 at 9.00 a.m. in a lecture room at the Gorlaeus Laboratories and will end on February 1st 2019.