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This track focuses on all aspects of developmental biology and their clinical applications. Scientists in the field of clinical embryology, reproductive medicine, molecular hematology and cellular therapy will introduce you to state-of-the-art knowledge and techniques, as well as to the ethical and legal framework of contemporary and future possibilities regarding therapeutic approaches. This track is a collaboration between the Faculty of Science, the Amsterdam UMC (location AMC) and Sanquin and will be taught at the last two locations.

Programme Outline

Year 1

The first year contains one general course and two track-specific courses. After these three obligatory courses you start with the first research project (30-60 ECTS) and 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 signaling.
  • Course: Shaping a human (4 weeks)
    In this first track-specific course, you will be introduced to the science behind human embryonic development and reproductive medicine. Recaps on gametogenesis and embryology will bring your knowledge up to speed. Topics that will be covered during this course, through lectures, working groups, journal clubs and practicals, include fertility preservation and treatments, stem cell biology, signaling pathways in (mal)development and (3D) imaging of the developing human body. Genetic modification techniques, such as CRISPR-Cas9, and their ethical implications will be explored in working groups and a debating session.
  • Course: Making and shaping blood cells (4 weeks)
    In the second track-specific course, the focus will be on the development of new blood cells and how in-depth knowledge of this process can be clinically applied. Hematopoietic development in the bone marrow will be covered from a scientific, translational and diagnostic perspective. Moreover, the programme will address novel advances in blood cell generation in vitro from induced pluripotent stem cells. Ethical dilemmas that arise from this new approach will also be examined. Understanding the generation and use of blood cells will be achieved through lectures, journal clubs, interviews and debates, but also through site visits to the blood bank and the Laboratory for Cellular Therapy. Finally, more in-depth knowledge is obtained by writing a grant application on one of the addressed topics, which also adds valuable experience in effective communication to obtain research funding.

Year 2

In the second year you can opt for the regular programme by choosing elective courses (0-18 ECTS), start a second research project or write a literature review. You may also choose to do a major or a minor. Both the AMC and Sanquin offer internship opportunities and additional courses in a great variety of specialisations, though elective courses and internships can also be carried out elsewhere.

Is Developmental and Therapeutic Biology the track for me?

The programme is looking for students who:

  • are interested in all aspects of human cell, tissue and organ development and differentiation
  • like to explore the clinical applications of developmental and reproductive science
  • would like to understand better how fundamental research can be translated into cellular therapy
  • are not afraid to face the ethical implications of genetic modification
  • like to improve both their oral and written communication skills
  • are fascinated by the miracle of life!

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