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Glycobiology in Health and Disease


Admission requirements

  • Basic knowledge of Immunology, Pathogen-Host interactions, Cell Biology and Biochemistry.

  • Students should have some laboratory research experience (cell culture, biochemistry techniques).


Period: 1 February 2021 - 19 February 2021.

This advanced course will provide you with detailed insights and practical working knowledge of the emerging field of glycobiology, which is rapidly becoming indispensable in translational and fundamental biomedical research.

Glycobiology is the discipline that encompasses the study of glycans and glycoconjugates that are found intracellular, on the surface and in secretions of all cells and organisms, including cancer cells, immune cells and pathogens. Glycans are key determinants in cell-cell interactions, in adhesion and signalling via glycan-binding receptors, as regulators or targets of innate and adaptive immune responses, and in many other biological processes. Moreover, glycosylation is highly regulated and subject to changes induced by physiological, immunological and pathological triggers. Glycobiological mechanisms are therefore central to many disorders and diseases, raising a strong interestin glycobiology and its exploitation as a source for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes.

In this course, you will gain essential knowledge of glycobiology (how does it work) and the glycosciences (how can we study it) and apply glycobiology approaches in practice to address research questions in immunology, cell biology and host-pathogen interactions.

Programme (putative)
Week 1: An introduction to glycobiology

  • basic concepts of glycosylation and glycobiology

  • approaches and tools to assess and manipulate glycosylation (in cells/organisms and at the molecular level)

  • key roles of glycosylation in selected biomedical research areas: molecular immunology, cancer, host-pathogen interactions

Students will be instructed by:

  • Interactive lectures and tutorials/demonstrations by experts from the glycobiology field

  • Journal club style self-study assignments and moderated discussions

  • Short web-based video courses in glycosciences & glycobiology

Week 2: In-lab trainings
Students will choose between research projects offered in the departments involved in the course. At least 3 projects will be on offer in the general areas glycobiology & inflammation, , glycobiology & infectious disease). During these two weeks the students will closely collaborate with PhD students and post-docs involved in the research chosen by the student. This intensive in-lab training period consists mainly of hands-on practical work and is aimed at providing the practical skills necessary to conduct a short research project in the field of glycobiology, as well as to develop insights into why and how glycans can play central roles in biology and biomedicine.

Week 3 Translational glycobiology and developing a project hypothesis.
Students will interview tutors and researchers from the different departments involved to assess the need for glycobiological approaches in current research programs. Under supervision of the tutors the students will integrate the theoretical and practical knowledge acquired in the first weeks of the course into a hypothesis and associated research plan in order to develop a proposal for incorporating a glycobiology approach into actual and relevant research questions within the LUMC.

This training period will end with an interactive mini-symposium in which all student groups will present and discuss their proposals. The written version of the advisory research plan has to be handed in no later than the first Monday after the end of the course.

Course objectives

The student will obtain insight and detailed knowledge into:

  • concepts of glycobiology as part of biomedical research

  • the specific molecular tools available for glycobiology

  • the role that glycans play in immunology, cancer, and host-pathogen interactions

  • the translational potential of glycobiology: why glycans can be targets for immunotherapy, biomarkers, vaccines, etc.

  • the current challenges in biomedical glycobiology

The student will learn to:

  • formulate hypotheses regarding current challenges in glycobiology,

  • implementing (chemical/biological) tools presented during the course into actual research

  • assess glycan targets for therapy of infectious and immunological diseases

The overall objectives of the course include a detailed understanding of the complex glycan-mediated interactions between molecules (glycoproteins, antibodies, lectins), cells (immune cells, cancer cells) and organisms (host/pathogen), as well as the understanding of available cutting-edge biochemical and biological tools that can be used for the study of glycobiological processes. The course will provide detailed insights into complex glycan-medicated interactions in immunology, cancer, cell biology and host-pathogen interactions including important aspects and examples of applications in clinical research and practice.

Glycobiology is a fascinating and innovative scientific area. It is expected that glycobiology will become one of the main innovative and cutting-edge disciplines in fundamental and translational biomedical research.

This course will train the students in particular in:

Research competences:
Critically gathering and assessing knowledge reported in the scientific literature and by others, formulating and motivating one’s own opinions. In-lab training related to a research project, defining a research question, writing a research plan, analyzing data with tutors, choosing appropriate techniques, integrate different (glycobiological) approaches in the design of a research question, design methods, and implement (glycobiology) research tools, formulate new research questions and approaches

Professional competences:
Commitment, motivation and drive, collaborating with peers. Work at and integrate several assignments, different topics during the course. Presenting and writing reports and well-defined research plans.


All course and group schedules are published on our LUMC scheduling website or on the LUMC scheduling app.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, self-study, work groups, in-lab training, research assignment.

Assessment method

The final mark (maximum score: 10) for this module will be calculated as follows below. All aspects must be at least sufficient (scores of >5.5) and active participation during the Journal clubs and lectures is required.

  • 15% for the Journal Club

  • 40% for the in-lab training and presentation of in-lab research data

  • 15% for the oral presentation of the research proposal

  • 30% for the written research proposal

We will assess active participation for all activities during the course and review the in-lab training, written report and oral presentation of the research proposal. Active participation includes your performance in the laboratory, presence/discussion at oral presentations by tutors and fellow students, and prepared oral performances. The assessment plan see is included in the course book.

Reading list

Will be distributed during the course.


Registration for FOS courses, H2W, Scientific Conduct, How to start, Course on Animal Science , and CRiP and Adv concepts courses takes place in lottery rounds in the beginning of July. After the lottery rounds: if you want to register for a course you are kindly asked to contact the student administration at