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Genome (in)stability, cancer and ageing


Admission requirements

  • Successful completion of How To Write A Research Proposal is strongly recommended.

  • The course will be given at second year Master level. An introductory review on DNA repair and Mutagenesis describes basic starting-level knowledge of the field, and can be obtained from the coordinator.


Period: March 4 – March 28 2013

Content of the course:
The stability of our genome is under constant threat, while some instability is required to enable evolution. Key players in maintaining genome stability are protein complexes involved in DNA replication, DNA repair, DNA damage signalling, cell cycle control and apoptosis. Defects in these systems may lead to increased mutations, chromosomal instability and ultimately to cancer while these systems also play crucial roles in cellular senescence and organismal aging. In this course you will get insights in these processes but also in how fundamental scientific research is conducted.


  • Week 1 and 2: acquire essential basic knowledge through introductory lectures given by experts in the field and through self-study assignments and workgroups. You will study and discuss key reviews, read and present recent literature, get practicals of available techniques and meet patients with defect in genome maintenance pathways.

  • Week 3 and 4: study a specific defect in genetic stability or a particular syndrome. By critical reading students will review in a written report and oral presentation the present state of the art and discuss missing and conflicting data. Students write a short proposal for an experiment and defend this proposal for a panel of researchers.
    This course will particularly work on:

This course will particularly work on:

Research competences:
Defining a research question, writing a research proposal, choosing appropriate techniques.
Professional competences:
Collaborating with peers, digesting of other people’s opinions, reflecting on personal actions

Course objectives

The student will acquire:

  • an overall understanding into the processes that safeguard genome stability and the consequences for fitness and disease.

  • deep knowledge of a specific subject related to the course topic

  • insights in the conduct of mechanistic, biomedical research

  • the ability to convey this knowledge and discrepancies in views to the other students

Mode of instruction

Plenary sessions, self study assignments, work groups; active participation in symposium.

Assessment method

Written report of a literature study; research proposal; student behaviour (motivation, independency, oral reporting, participation in practicals and discussion; oral presentation).