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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, as well as induced pluripotent stem cells (facultative course with limited capacity), 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, 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 and pharmacodynamic computational models 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. For the final course of the minor students choose between a course

  1. in stem cell biology in drug research, providing fundamental and applied aspects in the differentiation of stem cells and their use in drug research (NB limited capacity of 10 students), or

  2. on pharmacotherapy, in which various aspects, such as symptoms, (patho)physiology, drug targets and mechanism of action, are discussed, that determine effective drug therapy for a specific set of diseases (NB only taught in Dutch).

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 2 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, Biomedical Sciences, Bioinformatics and Life Science & Technology with an interest in computational modelling. 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 '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 (i.e. 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.


This is a selection minor with early registration deadlines.

Application occurs via EduXchange (LEI/TUD/EUR), between April 3rd and April 16th 2023 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.

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 EduXchange. Students from Leiden University can register for either Part 1 or 2 via uSis (4000KCAD1N for Part 1, class number = 14810 and 4000KCAD2N for Part 2, class number = 14811), TUD and EUR students must register for either Part 1 or 2 via the Minor Coordinator. All students outside Leiden University, TUD or EUR should always apply via the Minor Coordinator between April 3rd and April 16th 2023.

Please note that all non-LEI and non -LST students must send a transcript of their grades to the Minor Coordinator before April 16th 2023 to check the admission requirements.


Minor Coordinator: Dr. J.B. Beltman and Dr. M. Huigsloot


The Minor Computational Approaches to Disease, Signaling and Drug Targets starts on September 4th 2023 at 9.00 am and will end on February 2nd 2024.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.