During the past century unprecedented advances have been made in the area of biochemistry and metabolic diseases. The human genome has been sequenced and is now being studied for the regulation of gene expression, protein function and metabolism.
In addition, genomes of many major pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella and certain Escherichia coli strains have been sequenced as well as those from medically important yeasts such as Candida albicans. These microorganisms can all cause life threatening infections. The question is which of the genes in the genome of the microorganisms are expressed when and why. In other words, given the external environment how does the (micro)organism interact with it and how does it regulate its own homeostasis in the face of the environmental challenge? Microorganisms are also often used as model systems for higher eukaryotes.
The first three months of the programme will provide students with a basic understanding of the biochemistry and molecular biology of cells through compulsory courses. The first course is Molecular Biology of the Cell. Students will be given training in the analysis of chemical structures, structure function relationships and innovative, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics-based measuring systems.
The second course is Biomedical Systems Biology. You are given the opportunity to get acquainted with state of the art systems biology approaches for the study of response of biological (micro)organisms to environmental stress.
In the third month, you follow the newly developed Biotechnology course. This course will introduce students to a wide range of aspects related to devising and designing the upstream component of biotechnological processes.
The remainder of the programme provides elective courses and major practical training, whereby students carry out two research projects. One of these will cover a fundamentally oriented aspect of biochemistry and metabolic diseases, such as the basis of infectious processes or the developmental biology of organisms with mutations in their cellular anabolic machinery (i.e. mitochondrial biogenesis). Subsequently, a more medically oriented topic will be investigated, such as the genetic basis of human storage diseases and its cure, and the curing of major infectious diseases, e.g. Candida albicans infections in operation patients and AIDS patients.
Generally we advise to do the first traineeship at the Science faculty's Swammerdam Institute of Life Sciences (SILS) to get a proper grip on the necessary experimental approaches. Finally, in the last two months of the MSc track a theoretical paper on a topic in Medical Biochemistry and Biotechnology is offered by the participating groups of the Faculty of Science (SILS), the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands Cancer Institute and Sanquin Research. This topic may have NO overlap with the topics that were studied during the traineeships.
Is Medical Biochemistry and Biotechnology the track for me?
The programme is looking for students who:
- are interested in metabolic disorders and human functioning at the molecular and cellular level in the maintenance of health and development of disease.
- have a keen interest on how (micro) organisms interact with their environment and when which genes are expressed to deal with changing environmental conditions.
- want to cover topics ranging from prevention of metabolic disorders to microbial food safety, medical infections and obesity development with linked chronic disorders such as diabetes type 2 and atherosclerosis.
- enjoy doing laboratorial experiments,
- are enthusiastic, creative and accurate.