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
Do you have a clear and specific interest in cancer, stem cells or developmental biology? Join our programme and combine research in oncology, molecular developmental biology and genetics. Discover the mysteries of embryonic growth, stem cells, signalling, gene regulation, evolution, and development as they relate to health and disease.
Given that fundamental developmental processes are so often impacted by disease, an understanding of these processes is vital to the better understanding of disease treatment and prevention. Adult physiology is regulated by developmental genes and mechanisms which, if deregulated, may result in pathological conditions.
Become an expert on molecular and cellular aspects of development and disease and create a better understanding of processes underlying cancer and developmental biology. Use techniques and applications of post-genomic research, including single cell and next generation sequencing, proteomics, metabolomics and advanced microscopy techniques.
The Master in Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences (MCLS) is research oriented and takes a multidisciplinary approach to study related to health and disease in cells and organisms. By the end of the programme you will gain sufficient fundamental knowledge to start working on applications in the field of medical and biotechnological issues. These applications may include the development of new medicines and vaccines, new strategies for crop improvement, or the development of enzymes to be used in industry.
MCLS is the ideal Master’s programme if you are interested in molecules as the basis of life and disease and if you want to know how chemistry, biology, biomedical sciences, and physics contribute to our understanding of how these molecules work. The interplay of molecules in cells and organisms is the central focus of the programme.
The Dutch Master's Selection Guide (Keuzegids Masters 2017) ranked this programme as the best in the field of Chemistry in the Netherlands.
You will develop extensive knowledge about cellular processes such as cellular signaling, membrane biogenesis and intracellular transport. You will also learn skills and methods to study the molecules involved in these processes by using biochemistry, structural biology, cell biology, biophysics, computational biology, proteomics and genomics. The programme offers you the flexibility to choose any specialisation within the field of molecular and cellular life sciences.
Within this Master’s programme you can choose one of four tracks:
Aspiring to contribute to the development of new therapies for metabolic, infectious and immunological diseases or cancer? Radboud University's internationally acclaimed Research Master's programme in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease provides an excellent foundation for a career in academic or commercial research.
Only by dissecting the molecular mechanisms that trigger and advance diseases and dysfunctions can we design effective treatments and medicines. The Research Master's in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease (MMD) offers you an intensive two-year programme that provides you with in-depth knowledge and research experience of disease-related molecular mechanisms. In addition, you will acquire skills such as academic writing and presentation skills and learn how to successfully apply for grants and market yourself.
As an MMD student you will be part of the unique research community that is found within the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (RIMLS). Like you, RIMLS researchers have a strong passion for research. They will assist you throughout the programme with guidance and expertise, supporting you in acquiring knowledge and developing excellent research skills. The RIMLS is one of the research institutes of the Radboud university medical center, so their research is closely linked to the clinic and thus aimed at translating results into treatments for patients. Examples include the translation of insights into the biology of antigen-presenting cells into new immunological cancer therapies and understanding the mutations underlying blindness into the development of gene therapies for patients with inherited blindness.
See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/mmd
- You will follow a broad biomedical programme that allows you to specialise in your specific field-of-interest.
- You will have intense daily contact with established researchers.
- You will participate in group-oriented education and be part of a small group of highly motivated national and international students.
- A personal mentor will help you to reflect on your study programme and career perspective.
- You will do two 6-months research internships one of which will be abroad.
- There is a 92% pass rate of MMD students within the two years.
- International MMD students can apply for scholarships from the Radboudumc Study Fund.
There is considerable demand for experts in the molecular biomedical sciences as well as in their application to the development of treatments for diseases such as cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, and metabolic diseases.
Graduates in MMD are equipped with cutting-edge knowledge of multidisciplinary research in the mechanisms of disease and in state-of-the-art diagnostic methods and technologies. During the programme, you will develop a highly critical, independent approach to problem-solving. You will also acquire the basic management skills needed to lead R&D projects in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.
Most of our graduates will enter an international PhD programme to continue with research in academia or industry.
The MSc Molecular Mechanisms of Disease aims to provide all skills and knowledge necessary to rapidly enter an international PhD programme. In the Netherlands and many places in Europe, it is impossible to start a PhD programme directly after obtaining a Bachelor's degree. This research Master’s programme seriously increases your chances for obtaining an excellent PhD training position by giving you a mature perspective and a broad range of experimental approaches. In fact, over 90% of our graduates has started a (funded) PhD project.
The Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (RIMLS) recruits about fifty PhD students a year. MMD graduates are excellent candidates for these positions. Furthermore, the Radboud university medical centre offers the opportunity for its research-oriented Master's students to write their own research project. The best candidates are awarded a fully funded four-year PhD studentship at the department of their choice.
The molecular regulation of cellular processes is crucial for human development, and maintenance of health throughout life. It's evident that cellular malfunction is the cause of common multi-factorial diseases such as diabetes, immune and inflammatory disorders, renal disease, cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases as well as obesity and cancer.
The Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (RIMLS) Graduate School plays a key role in developing new therapies for the fight against such diseases. RIMLS aims to improve diagnostics and develop new treatments by generating basic knowledge in the molecular biomedical life sciences and translating it into clinical application and experimental research in patients.
The RIMLS – which is part of Radboud university medical center – offers an exclusive Master's programme in Molecular Mechanisms of Disease. Top researchers and clinicians teach the programme.
The MMD programme is organised along three major educational themes which reflect the main research areas present in the RIMLS and which each include both a fundamental and a disease-related aspect:
- Theme 1 Infection, Immunity and Regenerative Medicine / Immunity-related Disorders and Immunotherapy
- Theme 2 Metabolism, Transport and Motion / Metabolic Disorders
- Theme 3 Cell Growth and Differentiation / Developmental Disorders and Malignancies
See the website http://www.ru.nl/masters/mmd