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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 selection 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.
For Part 1, students may be invited for an interview with the Minor coordinator; students may be asked to study selected parts of text books before the start of Part 1 of the Minor.
For Part 2, or the Minor as whole, students must have successfully completed the course ‘Thema Effecten van Geneesmiddelen 1’, 'Fysiologie van ADME', or an equivalent course. In addition, they must evidently have sufficient knowlegde in the area of genetics, cellular biochemistry and (bio)pharmacy; students may be invited for an interview with the Minor coordinator. Students may be asked to study selected parts of text books before the start of Part 2 of the Minor.

There are max. 7 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 33 places are available for students who follow all courses of the Minor. Minimum/maximum capacity in total: 10/40.


NEW From 2020-2021 on, this is a selection minor with early registration deadlines.
Application occurs via uSis (LEI) or Osiris (TUD/EUR), between April 1st and April 15th 2020 and all students will remain on a waiting list until final placement. For TUD/EUR students a maximum of 5 places per university are available in the minor CADSDT. The class number required to enroll in uSis can be found (from beginning of March) via the Faculty Website Sign up for classes
In case you want to follow only Part 1 ór Part 2 (15 EC each), please do not register for the entire 30 EC minor via uSis or Osiris. Students from Leiden University can register for Part 1 ór 2 via uSis (4000KCAD1N for Part 1 and 4000KCAD2N for Part 2), TUD and EUR students must register for Part 1 ór 2 via the Minor Coordinator. All students outside Leiden University, TUD or EUR should always apply via the Minor Coordinator between April 1st and April 15th 2020.


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


The Minor Computational Approaches to Disease, Signaling and Drug Targets starts on August 31st 2020 at 9.00 am (check Brightspace modules of Introduction to Computational Thinking and other courses of Part 1 for detailed schedules, incl. on campus activities and teaching platforms used) and will end on January 29th 2021.