Our Division of Psychiatry is internationally recognised as a world-class clinical research and teaching centre.
We focus on the mechanisms underlying the development of major psychiatric disorders, including autism, bipolar disorder, depression, dementia and schizophrenia.
Expertise and studies
We have a particular expertise in longitudinal, clinical and biological studies of large cohorts of people at high risk of psychotic disorders drawn from across Scotland. Our studies include:
In psychiatric genetics, we take part in international genome wide association studies and focus on analyses of candidate genes including DISC-1, NDE-1 and DLG-2.
We also have a major focus on the functional genetics of psychiatric illness and have investigated the effects of variation in genes, such as DISC-1, on brain structure and function, as well as their programming during development in stem cell models.
We have demonstrated, for the first time, that structural and functional MRI changes precede the onset of psychosis and could be used as a diagnostic aid.
We have also demonstrated that imaging can be used to separate autism from learning disability in people of matched IQ.
We have made substantial progress in the discovery of genes, including DISC-1, associated with psychosis and have played a leading role in understanding how genetic variation alters brain structure and function and risk for mental illness.
The principal methods used are state-of-the-art structural and functional imaging techniques and genetic studies. We are also involved in a number of clinical trials of novel therapeutic interventions.
Major conditions of interest
Our major interests (that straddle the disciplines of Neurology and Psychiatry) include:
We are also closely involved in two philanthropically funded Specialist Centres of Excellence:
Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences
The Division of Psychiatry is a part of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences (CCBS) in the Edinburgh Medical School. CCBS integrates laboratory and clinical research to study the causes, consequences and treatment of major brain disorders.
Postgraduate students are mentored and supported by at least two supervisors and receive long-term guidance from their thesis committee.
We offer a transferable skills programme and project-specific courses, including opportunities to become involved in science communication and public engagement. In addition, the Division provides clinical case demonstrations and specialist seminars.
We offer well-characterised cohorts of patients and expertise in a wide variety of techniques to study biological aspects of psychiatric disorders.
The PG Dip programme equips students with a critical understanding of psychological models of psychosis and the skills to deliver high quality and creative cognitive behavioural interventions. The shorter PG Cert programmes focus on clinical skills, for clinicians, or on theoretical background for researchers, academics and non-practitioners.
The courses have been developed with the South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and designed in accordance with the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence Schizophrenia Guideline psychological therapy recommendations (NICE, 2003, 2014).
The purpose of the courses is to improve the delivery of cognitive behavioural interventions for people with psychosis. CBTp is a complex therapeutic intervention and requires of independent practitioners an advanced theoretical understanding of cognitive models of psychosis and specialist post-qualification skills in relationship building, assessment, formulation and intervention. Our courses train students in each of these requirements, enabling them to develop competence then mastery in therapy delivery, and to provide consultancy, training and supervision to others.
The courses are modular, following a credit framework. Two clinical skills modules build from early therapy activities (Engagement, Assessment & Formulation – Module 1) through to intervention and specialised applications (Intervention & Supervised Practice; Module 2). Two academic modules develop students’ critical appraisal of the theory underlying psychological models of psychosis (Theoretical background I: Psychological Models, Module 3) and the evidence base for interventions (Theoretical Background II: Interventions, efficacy & future directions, Module 4). Diploma students complete all four modules; clinical skills certificate students complete Module 1 and Module 2 only; theoretical background certificate students complete Modules 3 and Module 4 only.
Case supervision is strongly emphasised on the clinical programmes. Weekly morning supervision sessions take place in small groups (four to five) on the teaching day with all supervision carried out by the programme team. Additional close supervision (listening to audiorecordings of therapy sessions) is a course requirement.
The programmes deliver the clinical skills and theoretical background to work creatively and effectively with people with a schizophrenia spectrum diagnosis.
The Postgraduate Diploma in CBT for psychosis (CBTp) is designed for qualified mental health practitioners and covers both the clinical skills and theoretical background required to become an innovative and successful practitioner of CBTp. We recommend completion of the programme on a part-time basis, over two years. A fast-track one year full time option is available for students with previous experience of relevant clinical work and masters level study.
The Postgraduate Certificate in Therapy Skills emphasises the clinical skills component of the programme, for mental health practitioners who are primarily concerned with clinical practice, rather than academic development. The Postgraduate Certificate in Theoretical Background is designed for people without a mental health qualification, for researchers or academics, or as an introduction to CBTp. Students attend seminars and workshop teaching in order to acquire a detailed understanding of psychological models and interventions, together with their evidence base, but clinical supervision is not usually provided. Certificate programmes are offered on a part-time basis over a calendar year.
The course begins with three introductory intensive one-day workshops, which aim to provide students with an overview of the model, therapeutic style and content of initial sessions. This is usually a refresher for more experienced students and sets the scene for identifying students' individual learning targets and goals. Teaching modules are examined by assignments – audio recordings, case reports and practice portfolios for the clinical modules; essays and research presentations for the academic modules. Clinical students will be required to work with at least four clients for at least 16 sessions from assessment to completion or termination of therapy over the duration of the programme.
You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and examinations.
Examination (50%) | Coursework (30%) | Practical (20%)
King’s College is regulated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England
This module will prepare you to achieve the relevant learning outcomes required by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to be eligible to apply for annotation as a Pharmacist Independent Prescriber.
The module is structured around GPhC standards and the Competency Framework for all Prescribers. These support Pharmacist Prescribers to deliver safe and effective care. The skills and knowledge you will gain will enable you to make a difference to patients’ lives and play an important role in the future of pharmacist independent prescribing.
Teaching covers the learning outcomes required by the General Pharmaceutical Council. The subject matter is delivered at Master’s Level (SCQF Level 11) and covers therapeutics, pharmaceutical care planning, clinical skills, consultation skills and public health.
Modules and delivery order may change for operational purposes. The University regularly reviews its courses. Course content and structure may change over time. See our course and module disclaimer for more information.
The module comprises three elements: online learning, a period of teaching and training on-campus and a period of learning in practice.
The module is delivered almost entirely by distance-learning using a range of web-based learning materials. There is a mandatory one week on-campus period at the university when you will study elements of the module which are more effectively taught and assessed face-to-face such as communication and history-taking, consultation skills and the development and synthesis of treatment plans for individual patients. During the residential week there are also highly relevant presentations from a number of external experts.
The residential week for the January intake is at the start of May; the September intake has its residential week in January.
Presentation of module materials is based on the principles of adult learning theory which stress the importance of involving the learner at all stages of the learning process. This is fully compatible with the philosophy of continuing professional development (CPD), encouraging you to:
The January intake is a stand-alone Pharmacist Independent Prescribing module open to all. The September intake is available via two routes:
There are a number of assignments and preparatory tasks that must be completed prior to and after the residential week. You must also complete at least 90 hours learning in practice. Workloads and other commitments will vary making it impossible to specify the actual number of hours per week.
Typically students are assessed each year:
The Disability & Dyslexia Centre advises and supports students who disclose a sensory or mobility impairment, chronic medical condition, mental health issue, dyslexia and other specific learning differences. Applicants are encouraged to arrange a pre-entry visit to discuss any concerns and to view the facilities.
Staff Delivering on This Course
Staff delivering this module are practiced pharmacist academics and practitioners with active links to national and international pharmacy bodies including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Faculty, the General Pharmaceutical Council, the Canadian Pharmaceutical Association and the Chamber of Pharmacists of Austria and Germany External experts also contribute to the one week residential period where we cover aspects of the module which are better delivered face-to-face.
The Module Coordinator is your central point for information and support. You will be supported by university staff including e-tutors and some practising clinical pharmacy practitioners, who review learning materials, provide real-life case scenarios and participate in the marking of some practice related assessments. E-tutors facilitate discussion and learning within the module and bring a unique practice-related perspective to learning.
We aim to provide you with feedback within 20 working days of hand-in for all written exams, coursework and practical exams.
Study Skills Support
The Study Support Team provides training and support to all students in:
Become a qualified dramatherapist with this unique programme at Roehampton. It offers a practical and clinical approach, underpinned by Ritual Theatre theory, for working with others to impact healing and a positive change through drama.
The MA Dramatherapy programme at Roehampton offers unique training within the Ritual Theatre process of dramatherapy. Drawing heavily on the theatrical observations of Peter Brook and the experiments of Jerzy Grotowski, as well as anthropological notions of “rites of passage” and the importance of “myth”, the programmes offers a clearly structured developmental process for the clinical application of dramatherapy at various levels.
On this course, you will learn to facilitate an in-depth therapeutic process for a range of client groups, and devise therapeutic performances and workshops. You will also undertake an original piece of research into dramatherapy practice. The course is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and leads to a nationally-recognised professional qualification.
The programme consists of three stages, which offers a clearly structured developmental process for the clinical application of dramatherapy. In Stage One, you will be introduced to basic theatre skills and use these creatively to work with established stories and characters. This progresses into an exploration of the personal identifications that we have with stories and myths, and an understanding of the deep foundations within many cultural traditions of using ritual, drama and performance for the enhancement of health. In Stage Two, the focus moves on to employing drama and theatre processes as vehicles for exploring our own inter-personal and internal ‘dramas’.
Stage Three is where you will conduct your own piece of practical investigation or research into the literature and theory-base of dramatherapy practice. The Dramatherapy programme will provide you with a broad range of skills enabling you to pursue your own research interests across a wide spectrum of dramatherapy practice and theory.
You will study a range of topics including how to crafting therapeutic drama stories, understanding the individual and group process, Ritual Theatre, working with myths, paratheatrical explorations and the art of structure when working in dramatherapy.
Our research areas include individual dramatherapy in schizophrenia; perception and evaluation of therapeutic outcomes from therapist and client perspectives; the role of race, culture and gender; dramatherapy and “mentalisation” with borderline personality disorder and complex trauma; therapeutic scenarios and resistance; creativity and destructiveness; the dramatherapist; and the multidisciplinary team.
Alongside the experiential focus of the training, the programme also aims to develop the necessary understanding and reflective capacity required to practice as a professional dramatherapist. This is achieved through workshops, lecture series and clinical application seminars, as well as through assessed clinical placements.
We also offer introductory courses which provide a useful background to those working in related professions or anyone simply wishing to find out more about the work. For information on our Introduction Courses, Summer Schools and Foundation Course in Dramatherapy, see the Psychology Short Courses.
Full-time mode (2 years)
Part-time mode (3 years)
Compulsory and Required modules
Compulsory and/or required modules may change when we review and update programmes. Above is a list of modules offered this academic year.
Optional modules, when offered as part of a programme, may vary from year to year and are subject to viability.
Dramatherapists are employed across the spectrum of health and social care, education and forensic services. Dramatherapists may also operate in private therapy, training and consultancy practice.
We also offer weekend introductory courses, 5 day Summer Schools, and 20 week part time evening Foundation Courses which provide a useful background in related professions. For more information, see our Psychology Short Courses.
Sign up to the King's Postgraduate Health & Life Sciences Open Evening - Wednesday 14 March 2018.
New Master's Scholarships available. Find out more and apply.
This is a unique course for international and UK-based psychiatrists, paediatricians and psychologists, as well as allied professionals leading to enhanced clinical and research skills in child and adolescent mental health. Our Child and Adolescent Mental Health course is taught by leading figures in the field and offers comprehensive content with strong research and clinical focus.
We are proud to have been awarded an IoPPN Excellence Award in 2017 for student satisfaction in the Postgraduate Taught Education Survey (PTES).
Our Child and Adolescent Mental Health course is specifically designed for international and UK-based psychiatrists, paediatricians, and psychologists, as well as allied professionals who wish to develop their knowledge, skills and research methodologies in child and adolescent psychiatry, child development, therapeutic interventions and service models. You will develop clinical skills and be able to contribute to culturally-sensitive and clinically-effective services through relevant research, including health service development research.
You will be taught research methodology and statistics, issues relating to child development, aetiology of child and adolescent disorders, the psychological and physical treatments for emotional, behavioural and developmental disorders in children and young people. You will complete a research project, which could use quantitative or qualitative methodologies. You will also develop your skills in diagnosis, formulation and planning therapeutic interventions, service design, monitoring and evaluation. Clinical placements within CAMHS teams may also be arranged.
You will be taught through a mix of lectures, seminars and tutorials.
You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and examinations.
King’s College London is regulated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England
UK and international graduates return to clinical practice with enhanced skills and knowledge in child mental health.
This course is for people already working in a healthcare setting (in areas including psychiatry, clinical and forensic psychology, occupational therapy, social work, nursing, general medical practitioners) who are interested in delivering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in clinical settings. It will provide sufficient theoretical and skills training and can develop your career as a therapist and the service you provide.
CBT is the model of psychotherapy most tested by research trials for a range of mental and even physical disorders, ranging from depression, anxiety and phobias to eating disorders, schizophrenia and chronic pain. Healthcare professionals are increasingly required to demonstrate a flexible, multidisciplinary approach to make the best use of skills and resources.
The NHS actively promotes provision of evidence-based management. CBT is the evidence-based psychotherapy par excellence. It can be effective as a stand-alone treatment and can also be used in conjunction with other medical or psychological treatments. The model is versatile and creative and its techniques can be used selectively in general medical, psychological and nursing practice, as well as informing whole courses of integrated treatment.
This course will help you refine your CBT skills, empower you to use the model in a range of clinical situations, and focus on the development of a respectful and pro-active relationship with patients. The therapeutic alliance is central to the delivery of CBT and the course will teach you to forge a positive collaborative relationship with patients as a means of improving and maintaining the patient’s mental health.
The teaching and learning methods used will encourage participative and independent learning and you will arrange to see patients one day per week. Assessment methods will include essays, audio recordings of therapy sessions, case studies and supervisor assessments. Class sizes are usually around 30 for the PgCert and 15 for the PgDip. The course is delivered by staff of NHS Lothian and Greater Glasgow.
You will attend a 10-day induction block followed by a four day teaching block in the first week of every month. Links with industry/professional bodies On completion, you can apply to be accredited by the BABCP (British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies) in due course.
15 credits: CBT for Anxiety and Depression/ Principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy/ Research Skills in CBT/ Advanced CBT for Anxiety Disorders/ Introduction to Complex Adaptation of CBT 30 credits: Application of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy If studying for the MSc, you will also complete a dissertation of a research project within a chosen specialist area of CBT. The components of the dissertation will include: a research proposal; a literature review; and a paper for publication.
There is a growing demand for therapists specifically trained in this field. This course will enable you to develop your career and the service you provide.
Whole genome sequencing has opened up a new era of studies into the molecular and cellular basis of human disease. This unique research-led masters course provides training to future scientists in the production and use of animal models for basic research into disease mechanisms and for therapeutic studies.
The new molecular genetic and cellular approaches to understand human disease and disease processes in model systems are well established in our department, with some of the world’s foremost research in these areas being conducted in Sheffield. As the research base broadens and industry begins to adopt new technologies, the demand for this type of specialist training is strong across the healthcare industry and academia. As a graduate, you will gain high-level employment opportunities.
Graduates with skills in stem cell and regenerative medicine are in demand. Your degree will prepare you for a career in research in academia or industry, or in a clinical-related field. Our graduates are working all over the world – from the UK to China, India and the USA – and over half go on to doctoral study.
The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) rates us No 1 in the UK for research in this field. Our international reputation attracts highly motivated staff and students. Sheffield is a vibrant place to take a masters based on pioneering research.
Regular seminars from distinguished international experts help you to connect your studies to the latest developments. We’re also part of collaborative research groups for developmental biology, cell biology, physiology, pharmacology, neuroscience, models of human disease, stem cell science and regenerative medicine.
Our three research centres focus on translating laboratory research to the clinical environment: Bateson Centre, the Centre for Stem Cell Biology, and the Centre for Membrane Interactions and Dynamics.
We have a long track record of groundbreaking discoveries. These include breakthroughs in human stem cells for hearing repair, and the generation of animal models for Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, muscular dystrophies and their use for therapeutic studies.
We have purpose-built facilities for drosophila, zebrafish, chick and mouse genetics and for molecular physiology. Other facilities provide all the tools you’ll need to examine and analyse a range of cellular structures. We have an electron and a light microscopy centre, a PCR robotics facility, a flow cytometry unit and an RNAi screening facility.
There are lectures, practical classes, tutorials and seminars. In small group teaching classes you’ll discuss, debate and present on scientific and ethical topics. Laboratory placements within the department provide you with one-to-one attention, training and support to do your individual research project. Assessment is by formal examinations, coursework assignments, debates, poster presentations and a dissertation.
Our teaching covers ethics, practical scientific skills and an overview of the current literature. You’ll also develop useful career skills such as presentation, communication and time management.
You will gain an insight into how to use CBT creatively and collaboratively with clients and how to assess, formulate, provide interventions and evaluate your work with clients. This course focuses on interventions with clients who have anxiety and depression right through to people with addictions, personality disorder and schizophrenia as well as other complex needs. There are opportunities to study new developments in CBT, family interventions and how CBT is used with people who have physical health issues.
This course runs part-time for half a day per week over three years, or full-time for two half days per week.
Depending on your level of experience and professional interests you can choose to study a variety of modules.
Learning is delivered via blended learning methods including seminars and master classes, critical analysis of case studies, relevant literature and research and reflection on practical applications. Use of video/audio, role play and skills assessment are essential to this course in years one and two to ensure competency of the student in practising CBT. The use of Blackboard as a learning resource is also an important element in all of the modules on the course. It is anticipated that a generous part of this work will be focused on enhancing self-awareness and using CBT tools and techniques on the self using self-help texts and interactive activities. It is anticipated that if the students can use some CBT tools on themselves that this increases self-awareness of their own interpersonal issues and also assists in practicing methods on themselves prior to using these with clients.
Find out more about certain aspects of counselling with our short two minute psychotherapy lectures from Dr Mark Widdowson, lecturer in counselling and psychotherapy at the University of Salford.
This Masters has been designed to meet the growing need for people to have the skill set to work with clients with complex needs or mild to moderate mental health issues.
Many of our students already have jobs, but inform us that this course enhances their level of employment, or offers a new career pathway. Examples of job titles in the NHS are CBT lead for mental health trust and cognitive behavioural psychotherapist/therapist.
This course has been created after request from the North West Strategic Health Authority. Some students will be able to use the Service Level Agreement to fund these modules. Other students will self-fund or request funding from their employer.
Sign up to the King's Postgraduate Health & Life Sciences Open Evening - Wednesday 14 March 2018.
New Master's Scholarships available. Find out more and apply.
Our unique Early Intervention in Psychosis course provides worldclass specialised training in the early identification and clinical treatment of psychosis, focusing on the detection and management of early symptoms. This approach is highly effective in reducing the long-term impact of psychotic illness. You will learn the relevant skills in early intervention and other areas of mental health. You will also acquire transferable skills training, including career planning and progression, personal statement and CV writing, interviewing, public speaking and presenting scientific data to a lay or non-specialist audience.
People who experience a psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychotic depression, can and do recover. However, long-term recovery is dependent on the timely delivery of effective treatment.
The MSc Early Intervention in Psychosis develops your academic and clinical skills in the identification and treatment of psychosis. Early intervention is an evidence-based, holistic and person-centered approach that is highly effective in reducing the long-term impact of psychotic illness on the individual and their families. It has now become an integral part of mental health services in the UK and worldwide. The course combines biological, psychological and social perspectives, reflecting the multi-faceted nature of the illness. You will learn through classroom teaching and a clinical placement in an early intervention service within the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. The knowledge and experience acquired on this course are relevant and applicable to all areas of mental health.
Our course is designed for students who want to develop their academic and clinical expertise and experience before applying for clinical psychology training. It is also ideal for mental health professionals (eg doctors, clinical psychologists, nurses) aiming to enhance their career prospects. Furthermore, it provides a robust foundation for students who aim to conduct further research at PhD level in the future.
You will be taught by mental health professionals with extensive experience in delivering early intervention in psychosis and academics who have carried out pioneering research in this area.
You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and examinations.
Examination (72.5%) | Coursework (22.5%)| Practical (5%)
The expertise and experience acquired on this MSc are relevant and applicable to all areas of mental health. Therefore, after completing this programme, you will be in a strong position to pursue a career in mental health. Most of our students go on to clinical psychology training (e.g. DClinPsy), other clinical training (e.g. IAPT) or a research position (e.g. PhD). Clinicians completing this programme have enhanced their career and/or obtained clinical research positions.
This Masters is ideal for those who have an undergraduate degree in Psychology or a related discipline and would like to build more knowledge and skills highly valued both in academic research and the clinical professions. The MSc is an ideal platform from which to progress to PhD studies, particularly in Cognitive or Social Neuroscience. Students will also be well-equipped should they wish to undertake further professional training in Clinical Psychology, or a related discipline.
This Masters degree bridges three research and clinical disciplines:
The major aim of this programme is to provide you with a thorough grounding in the neuroscience that underpins human cognitive brain function, clinical, social and affective interaction, and neuropathology.
Teaching will comprise of seminars, lectures, computing and statistics classes, and supervision of an individual research project. Your learning experience during the programme will be enhanced by an invited speaker’s programme of external experts who work in Clinical, Social or Cognitive neuroscience.
You will have access to all the facilities and laboratories in the Psychology Department. Check our labs facilities in the Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit (CRNU), the Baby lab, the Autism Research Group (ARG), the Human Memory Research Group, etc. For a full list of facilities visit the Psychology Department.
Our members have experience with a wide range of neuroscientific techniques, including neuropsychological testing, psychophysics, electrophysiology, and neuroimaging methods. We have particular strengths in the use of Electroencephalography (EEG), Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and Transcranial Electric Stimulation (a weak current applied to the scalp), in addition to measures of human behaviour (e.g. response times, response errors, and eye movements) and physiological measures (e.g. galvanic skin response and heart rate).
We test neurologically normal individuals, special populations (e.g. people with synesthesia) and people with expertise or acquired skills (e.g. dancers, musicians, athletes), as well as people with brain damage (e.g. neglect or split-brain patients), psychiatric diagnoses (e.g. schizophrenia), sensory deficits (e.g. visual and hearing impairments) and developmental disorders (e.g. dyslexia or autism).
We facilitate clinical internships through our specialist research Centre for Psychological Wellbeing and Neuroscience (CPWN) and with the local Mind centre.
Teaching will be comprised of lectures, seminars, group work and discussions, workshops and tutorials, reports, computing and statistics classes and the individual research dissertation.
You will undertake independent study, supported by the teaching and learning team, and will receive detailed feedback on your coursework. You will be provided with assessment and grade-related criteria which will outline your intended learning outcomes, along with the skills, knowledge and attitudes you are expected to demonstrate in order for you to complete an assessment successfully. You will also be assigned a personal tutor as your primary contact, who will advise you on academic matters and monitor your progress through the programme.
You will find a supportive vibrant research environment in the Department. The course is taught by academics, who are internationally recognised experts in their field with different backgrounds in clinical, social and cognitive neuroscience.
Check out what is going on in our laboratories and at the Center for Psychological Wellbeing and Neuroscience (CPWN).
Find our more about our work on our Facebook group.
Your learning will be assessed through essays, examinations, oral presentations, research methods projects and interpretation of statistical analyses, formal research proposals and a dissertation.
The programme consists of eight taught modules worth 15 credits each with around 30-34 hours of face-to-face contact, supported by online resources and an empirical research project (worth 60 credits).
You will learn about the latest advances in clinical, social and cognitive neuroscience and develop an appreciation of the reciprocal nature of research and practice in these domains. For example how insights from functional neuroimaging inform our understanding of neurological disorders and how clinical observations inform neurocognitive modelling.
This course will provide you with knowledge and skills highly valued both in academic research and the clinical professions. The MSc is an ideal platform from which to progress to PhD studies, particularly in Cognitive or Social Neuroscience. You will also be well-equipped should you wish to undertake further professional training in Clinical Psychology, or a related discipline.
The knowledge and skills you will acquire in this programme are highly valuable, whether you choose to pursue further research or an applied occupation. They will enhance your employability prospects in a wide range of sectors including the pharmaceutical industry, neuromarketing, the computing industry, science and the media, science and the arts, business or education.
The only Master’s specialisation in the Netherlands covering the function of our epigenome, a key factor in regulating gene expression and in a wide range of diseases.
Our skin cells, liver cells and blood cells all contain the same genetic information. Yet these are different types of cells, each performing their own specific tasks. How is this possible? The explanation lies in the epigenome: a heritable, cell-type specific set of chromosomal modifications, which regulates gene expression. Radboud University is specialised in studying the epigenome and is the only university in the Netherlands to offer a Master’s programme in this field of research.
The epigenome consists of small and reversible chemical modifications of the DNA or histone proteins, such as methylation, acetylation and phosphorylation. It changes the spatial structure of DNA, resulting in gene activation or repression. These processes are crucial for our health and also play a role in many diseases, like autoimmune diseases, cancer and neurological disorders. As opposed to modifications of the genome sequence itself, epigenetic modifications are reversible. You can therefore imagine the great potential of drugs that target epigenetic enzymes, so-called epi-drugs.
In this specialisation, you’ll look at a cell as one big and complex system. You’ll study epigenetic mechanisms during development and disease from different angles. This includes studying DNA and RNA by next-generation sequencing (epigenomics) and analysing proteins by mass spectrometry (proteomics). In addition, you‘ll be trained to design computational strategies that allow the integration of these multifaceted, high-throughput data sets into one system.
- Radboud University combines various state-of-the-art technologies – such as quantitative mass spectrometry and next-generation DNA sequencing – with downstream bioinformatics analyses in one department. This is unique in Europe.
- This programme allows you to work with researchers from the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life sciences (RIMLS), one of the leading multidisciplinary research institutes within this field of study worldwide.
- We have close contacts with high-profile medically oriented groups on the Radboud campus and with international institutes (EMBL, Max-Planck, Marie Curie, Cambridge, US-based labs, etc). As a Master’s student, you can choose to perform an internship in one of these related departments.
- Radboud University coordinates BLUEPRINT, a 30 million Euro European project focusing on the epigenomics of leukaemia. Master’s students have the opportunity to participate in this project.
As a Master’s student of Medical Epigenomics you’re trained in using state-of-the art technology in combination with biological software tools to study complete networks in cells in an unbiased manner. For example, you’ll know how to study the effects of drugs in the human body.
When you enter the job market, you’ll have:
- A thorough background of epigenetic mechanisms in health and disease, which is highly relevant in strongly rising field of epi-drug development
- Extensive and partly hands-on experience in state-of-the-art ‘omics’ technologies: next-generation sequencing, quantitative mass spectrometry and single cell technologies;
- Extensive expertise in designing, executing and interpreting scientific experiments in data-driven research;
- The computational skills needed to analyse large ‘omics’ datasets.
With this background, you can become a researcher at a:
- University or research institute;
- Pharmaceutical company, such as Synthon or Johnson & Johnson;
- Food company, like Danone or Unilever;
- Start-up company making use of -omics technology.
Apart from research into genomics and epigenomics, you could also work on topics such as miniaturising workflows, improving experimental devices, the interface between biology and informatics, medicine from a systems approach.
Or you can become a:
- Biological or medical consultant;
- Biology teacher;
- Policy coordinator, regarding genetic or medical issues;
- Patent attorney;
- Clinical research associate;
Each year, the Molecular Biology department (Prof. Henk Stunnenberg, Prof. Michiel Vermeulen) and the Molecular Developmental Biology department (Prof. Gert-Jan Veenstra) at the RIMLS offer between five and ten PhD positions. Of course, many graduates also apply for a PhD position at related departments in the Netherlands, or abroad.
- Systems biology
In the Medical Epigenomics specialisation you won’t zoom in on only one particular gene, protein or signalling pathway. Instead, you’ll regard the cell as one complete system. This comprehensive view allows you to, for example, model the impact of one particular epigenetic mutation on various parts and functions of the cell, or study the effects of a drug in an unbiased manner. One of the challenges of this systems biology approach is the processing and integration of large amounts of data. That’s why you’ll also be trained in computational biology. Once graduated, this will be a great advantage: you’ll be able to bridge the gap between biology, technology and informatics , and thus have a profile that is desperately needed in modern, data-driven biology.
- Multiple OMICS approaches
Studying cells in a systems biology approach means connecting processes at the level of the genome (genomics), epigenome (epigenomics), transcriptome (transcriptomics), proteome (proteomics), etc. In the Medical Epigenomics specialisation, you’ll get acquainted with all these different fields of study.
- Patient and animal samples
Numerous genetic diseases are not caused by genetic mutations, but by epigenetic mutations that influence the structure and function of chromatin. Think of:
- Autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
- Cancer, in the forms of leukaemia, colon cancer, prostate cancer and cervical cancer
- Neurological disorders, like Rett Syndrome, Alzheimer, Parkinson, Multiple Sclerosis, schizophrenia and autism
We investigate these diseases on a cellular level, focusing on the epigenetic mutations and the impact on various pathways in the cell. You’ll get the chance to participate in that research, and work with embryonic stem cell, patient, Xenopus or zebra fish samples.
See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/medicalbiology/epigenomics