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Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences: Drug Discovery and Safety

Drug Discovery and Safety is a specialisation of the Master’s programme Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences of Leiden University. This specialisation offers scientific training on and hands-on experience with a range of state-of-the-art techniques, required for the discovery and characterization of novel drug targets and the synthesis and optimization of new drugs. Research Project 1 will be conducted at the division Drug Discovery & Safety of the LACDR on one of the research themes described below.

To effectively design new drugs, understanding the mechanism by which potential drug targets affect the development and progression of disease at the molecular level is essential. The division unravels these mechanisms, particularly in the area of (breast) cancer metastasis, drug resistance and drug safety. After screening of candidate drug targets using a ‘systems microscopy’ approach, promising targets are evaluated in clinically relevant models and patient material, in close collaboration with clinical centers.

The division is also working on the design, synthesis and evaluation of new compounds that modulate G protein-coupled receptor activity (GPCRs). Essential is that these compounds meet specific requirements that enable them to work effectively as medicinal agents. To this end, a ‘chemical biology’ approach is pursued in which synthetic chemistry, new developments in bio- and cheminformatics, biochemistry/molecular biology and pharmacology are combined. Finally, the interaction with their targets is modelled and evaluated at atomic resolution for a more rational approach of drug design.

Programme BPS research components

  • the Introduction Course Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences in the specialisation area corresponding to the division at which Research Project 1 is performed (6 EC).

  • a Research Project 1 of 47 EC in one of the research groups of the division BioTherapeutics including 5 EC for a thesis and 2 EC for an oral presentation

  • one of the lecture series listed below (4 EC)

  • the course Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation (3 EC)

  • a Literature Study at one of the research groups (other than the research group of the RP1) of the LACDR.

  • a Research Project 2 of 35 EC at a pharmaceutical company, research institute, medical centre or university (abroad), including 5EC for a thesis (a colloquium of 1 EC is optional and if done, part of the electives space of 18 EC).

  • Electives of 18 EC total.

First and Second Year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Mandatory courses:

Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation 3
Introduction Course 6
Literature Study 7

Research Project 1 at the division of Drug Discovery and Safety of the LACDR

Research Project 1 - Practical Work 40
Research Project 1 - Thesis 5
Research Project 1 - Oral Presentation 2

Research Project 2

Research Project 2 - Practical Work 30
Research Project 2 - Thesis 5

The MSc programme of Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences offers the following Lecture Series in the academic year 2022-2023 (one of these is mandatory):

Advanced Computational Methods in Drug Discovery: AI and Physics Based simulations 4
Atherosclerosis 4
Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry 4
Drug Delivery 4
Novel chemical modalities in drug discovery 4
Biophysics and Bioengineering for Pharmaceutical Sciences 4
Blood-Brain Barrier: Drug Transport to the Brain 4
Capillary Electrophoresis-Mass Spectrometry for Metabolomics 4
Quantitative Pharmacology 4
Signal Transduction and Hallmarks of Cancer 4
Model organisms in cancer drug discovery and development 4
Novel Concepts in Molecular Pharmacology 4
Pharmaceutical Outcome Research – Scientific key in the Life Cycle of Pharmaceutical Interventions 4
Regulation of Drug Safety 4

Optional courses in the academic year 2022-2023 (list is not restrictive):

Research Project 2 - Oral presentation 2
Student assistantship bachelor research assignment 5
IP Law in Science 5
Science Methodology (SCM) 4
Ontwerp, analyse en productzorg van biologicals 4
Science and the public: contemporary and historical perspectives 6
Computational Techniques for Chemical Biology (CTCB) 6

Please Note

If you start in September 2022, you need to pass the 'Introduction Course' (6EC) and 'Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation' (3EC).

If you started in or after September 2021, you need to pass the 'Introduction Course' (4EC) and 'Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation' (3EC).

Attended Lectures and Colloquia 1

Meer info

Course Schedules are published on Blackboard. An overview of Exam Dates as well as Class numbers for enrolling for courses and exams in uSis can be obtained here

General outline of the MSc programme of the research specialisation Drug Discovery and Safety:

Level EC
Introduction Course Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences: Drug Discovery and Safety 500 6
Research project 1, at the division of Drug Discovery and Safety
- practical work 600 40
- thesis 600 5
- oral presentation 600 2
Research project 2, (preferably in another discipline of BPS, not restricted to the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences)
- practical work 600 30
- thesis 600 5
Literature study plus thesis 500 7
Lecture series 1 (in BPS) 500 4
Course Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation 500 3
Optional courses or traineeships 400–600 (max 12 EC < 400) 18

Attending more than one lecture series of BPS is optional and may be part of the programme component ‘Optional courses’.

Career Orientation

Career preparation in master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences

In addition to offering you a solid university education, Leiden University aims to prepare you as well as possible for the labour market, and in doing so contribute to the development of your employability. In this way, it will become easier for you to make the transition to the labour market, to remain employable in a dynamic labour market, in a (career) job that suits your own personal values, preferences and development. 'Employability' consists of the following aspects that you will develop within your study programme, among others:

1. Discipline-specific knowledge and skills
Knowledge and skills specific to your study programme.

2. Transferable skills
These are skills that are relevant to every student and that you can use in all kinds of jobs irrespective of your study programme, for example: researching, analysing, project-based working, generating solutions, digital skills, collaborating, oral communication, written communication, presenting, societal awareness, independent learning, resilience.

3. Self-reflection
This concerns self-reflection in the context of your (study) career, including reflecting on the choices you make as a student during your studies, what can you do with your knowledge and skills on the labour market?
In addition, reflecting on your own profile and your personal and professional development. Who are you, what can you do well, what do you find interesting, what suits you, what do you find important, what do you want to do?

4. Practical experience
Gaining practical experience through internships, work placements, projects, practical (social) assignments, which are integrated into an elective, minor or graduation assignment.

5. Labour market orientation
Gaining insight into the labour market, fields of work, jobs and career paths through, for example, guest speakers and alumni experiences from the work field, career events within the study programme, the use of the alumni mentor network, interviewing people from the work field, and shadowing/visiting companies in the context of a particular subject.

Employability in the curriculum

During the master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences (BPS), we want to provide you with the best possible preparation to enter the job market after graduation.

The major part of the master BPS programme involves on-the-job training during research projects and internships. This not allows training of discipline-specific knowledge and skills, but also teaches students to work in a professional environment and fosters the development of an extensive set of transferable skills.

In addition, in the course Advanced Academic Skills and Career Orientation (AASCO, 3 EC) that runs over the 2 years of the master programme students are explicitly trained in several aspects of academic skills and are stimulated to make self-directed, conscious choices for their own professional development and preparation for a successful start of their career on the job market.

Activities contributing to career orientation
All years

  • Science Skills Platform with a Personal and Professional development domain

  • Information on career prospects of graduates of our programme and alumni career paths in the Brightspace module “Master Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences”

  • Guest lectures by (guest) lectures provided by professionals pharmaceutical companies at the Leiden BioScience Park

  • Career Events (e.g. Science Career Event, L.P.S.V. „Aesculapius” Career Day, K.N.P.S.V. Profession Day, BCF Career Event)

  • Symposia of LACDR and study association L.P.S.V. „Aesculapius

  • Workshops and Career Colleges Science Career Service

  • Entrepreneurship workshop series focused on research valorisation for societal challenges

  • Bio Science Park Excursion

First year

  • Introductory meeting with the study advisor

  • Meetings with student mentors

  • Career Symposium with presentations by alumni

  • Career Orientation reflection assignment 1 – You are here!, to reflect on current profile, expectations and need for orientation

  • Career Orientation reflection assignment 2 – On Track!?, to reflect on your academic and personal development

  • Career Orientation reflection assignment 3 – Choosing direction, to evaluate how the career orientation activities helped you to develop a view on the career perspectives of a Bio-Pharmaceutical scientist.

Second year

  • Voluntary Career Orientation reflection assignment 4 – Dream Job Ahead!, to learn how to write an application letter and Curriculum Vitae for the dream job that you aspire after your graduation.

Activities to prepare for the labour market co-curricular or outside the curriculum

Every year, also various activities take place, alongside and outside of the BPS study programme, which contribute to your preparation for the labour market, especially where it concerns orientation towards the work field/the labour market, (career) skills and self-reflection. These may be information meetings on decision moments within your programme, but also career workshops and events organised by the BPS programme, the faculty Career Service, your study association L.P.S.V. „Aesculapius”, or other organizations.

Career Service, LU Career Zone and career workshops calendar

Faculty Career Service The Career Service of your faculty offers information and advice on study (re)orientation and master's choice, (study) career planning, orientation on the labour market and job applications.

Leiden University Career Zone Leiden University Career Zone is the website for students and alumni of Leiden University to support their (study) career. You can find advice, information, (career) tests and tools in the area of (study) career planning, career possibilities with your study, job market orientation, job applications, the Alumni Mentor network, job portal, workshops and events and career services.

Workshops and events
On the course calendar you will find an overview of career and application workshops, organised by the Career services.