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Cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of hospitalisations and death globally. In the Netherlands alone, close to a million people suffer from a form of cardiovascular disease, with a daily death rate of 100 patients. In spite of many years of research we are still far from effective curing strategies. In order to improve diagnosis and to develop novel therapies to cure cardiovascular diseases, it is paramount that we understand the fundamental biology of the cardiovascular system and the mechanisms underlying its malfunction.

Studying Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Amsterdam

This track is designed around the range of research themes actively studied at the Amsterdam Cardiovascular Sciences institute (ACS). This internationally renowned institute combines all fundamental and clinical cardiovascular research within Amsterdam UMC. The program is taught at the Amsterdam Medical Center (AMC) by basic and clinical ACS scientists, also ensuring ample options for internships both at the AMC and the VUmc, but also abroad, through the extensive international network of the ACS. This dedicated track is unique in the Netherlands and will set you on a course for a career in cardiovascular research to discover the solutions of tomorrow.

Programme Outline

Year 1

The first semester comprises one general course and two track-specific courses. After these three compulsory courses you will start with the first research project (30-60 ECTS) and write a literature review (12 ECTS).


  • Course: Molecular Biology of the Cell (4 weeks)
    This basic theoretical course is the same for all Master’s tracks in the Medical Biology cluster and recaps the molecular basis of cell function, including proteins, membranes, DNA structure, cell metabolism, protein synthesis and cellular signalling.
  • Course: Heart development, function and disease (4 weeks)
    In the first week of this course the development of the heart as well as cardiac morphology in (congenital) heart disease will be addressed. Subsequently, all aspects of cardiac function, including electrophysiology, contractility and energy metabolism will be covered. Together, this first week provides a basis for the subsequent three weeks focusing on the different forms of heart disease, disease models and developments in diagnostic and therapeutic options. Each week starts with a state-of-the-art lecture providing the clinical context for the subsequent lectures, lab visits and assignments that deal with fundamental and mechanistic aspects of heart disease.
  • Course: Vascular development, function and disease (4 weeks)
    The development of the vascular system, as well as the basic aspects of the circulation, thrombosis and hemostasis are presented in the first week. Vascular disease and its multiple causes, such as atherosclerosis and diabetes, are addressed in the subsequent weeks, together with the consequences for organ function. Each week starts with a state-of-the-art lecture providing the clinical context for the subsequent lectures, lab visits and assignments that deal with fundamental and mechanistic aspects of vascular disease.

Although the track-specific courses are independent, the critical interplay between the heart and the vasculature in cardiovascular diseases will be addressed in both courses. All lectures are given by active researchers who are experts on the subject that is being addressed. These lectures will not only provide insight into the latest knowledge, but, equally important, also in what we do not yet know. As a student of this track and future researcher, you will actively participate in the seminars, symposia and other scientific events of the ACS throughout the programme. This will help you in finding the internship of your choice in the second half of the first year.

Year 2
In the second year you can opt for the regular programme by choosing elective courses (up to 18 ECTS), start a second research project or write the literature review. You may also choose to do a major or a minor.

Is Cardiovascular Sciences the track for me?

The programme is looking for students who:

  • are fascinated by the functional complexity of the heart and vasculature
  • want to meet the challenge of understanding cardiovascular diseases
  • want to gain relevant expertise in a top laboratory research team

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