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Cell Membranes and Membrane Transport (CMMT)


Admission requirements

Elective course for MSc Life Science and Technology and MSc Chemistry students.

A BSc degree in Molecular Science and Technology, Life Science and Technology, Chemistry or a related discipline with a good understanding of Biochemistry and some affinity with microbiology or biotechnology.


Lipid membranes are the boundary of every biological cell and compartmentalise the chemistry of life. Furthermore, liposomal formulations have become key in drug delivery and form a basic building block for synthetic cells and organelles. Although only several nanometers thick, lipid membranes are specific barriers, impermeable to many chemicals, while membrane proteins selectively transport signals, nutrients, chemicals, toxins and biomacromolecules. This course will discuss the properties of lipid membranes and membrane transporters at the molecular level, discusses experimental techniques used in membrane research and introduces the role of lipids in applications such as drug delivery and synthetic cells. Besides a general introduction into the biochemistry of cell membranes and membrane proteins, the biophysical characteristics of lipids and detergents will be used to illustrate their behaviour and barrier properties.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • use and apply knowledge of lipids, lipid membranes and membrane proteins to analyse challenges in biochemistry, biotechnology and biomedical science.

  • work in teams to obtain and apply sources and analyse challenges in biochemistry, biotechnology and biomedical sciences around the topic of lipids, lipid membranes and membrane proteins; and to clearly present these to a multidisciplinary research audience.

  • place research challenges of lipid membranes and membrane proteins into the context of the current state-of-the-art and formulate credible solutions to these challenges.

Examples of biochemical, biotechnological and biomedical scientific topics around lipids, lipid membranes and membrane proteins are:

  • the different lipids in biology and their physiochemical properties.

  • the use of liposomes and other vesicles in the field of ‘scientific cells’ and ‘drug delivery’.

  • functional importance of membrane fluidity, liquid order and liquid disorder phases (and gel phase), transition temperature of lipid membranes and phase separation.

  • transmembrane gradients (and the related Nernst equation) and its relation to active transport of a compound across the membrane.

  • the molecular mechanism (and substrate selectivity) of different classes of transporters, for instance primary active transporters (P-type, V-type, F-type and ABC transporters), secondary active transporters, ion channels and pores.

  • the relation of different classes of transporters to health, for instance cystic fibrosis, drug resistance and transmembrane drug transport.


Schedule information can be found on the website of the programmes

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.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

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.

Mode of instruction

Lectures (8), tutorials (1), student presentations (1) and independent reading.

Assessment method

A take home essay (67%) and a group project, orally presented (33%)
To pass the module both exams must be passed (a mark of more than 5.5 for each component).

Reading list

  • Lukas K. Buehler, Cell Membranes, Garstang, Chapter 4 to 7.

  • Boal, David H..; Mechanics of the Cell, Chapter 7. Free to download for students via EBSCO Publishing : eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost)


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Prof. Dr. L.J.C. Jeuken


According to OER article 4.8, students are entitled to view their marked examination for a period of 30 days following the publication of the results of a written examination. Students should contact the lecturer to make an appointment for such an inspection session.