Brain disorders form a large and increasing burden for society and make up a large proportion of our healthcare budget. Recent advances in genetics have now shown that genetic make-up, in interaction with (early) environmental factors, is a major contributor to several neurodevelopmental, psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. However, very little is known about the pathophysiological mechanisms and neurobiological substrates involved. Neither is it clear what the precise role is of the environmental factors present early in life and during adulthood. As a result, treatment options are often limited and/or have frequent side effects.
In the track Psychopharmacology and Pathophysiology we focus on common human brain disorders such as major depression, PTSD, anxiety disorders, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, eating disorders, addiction, MS and epilepsy. These disorders will be discussed in detail during the programme.
The main aim of this track is to provide you with detailed and up-to-date information about:
1) the neurobiological mechanisms thought to underlie some of the main human brain disorders, e.g. Alzheimer's/Parkinson's disease, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, epilepsy and MS.
2) the current animal models available to study these diseases and/or test effects of (novel) pharmaca.
3) the development, selection and testing of drugs to treat brain diseases (validity, efficacy, safety). This is done with experts from the pharma industry. As risk factors for later psychopathology, focus is also on the early life period and on stress. Other key topics are nutrition, plasticity and stem cells.
The P&P track consists of three courses starting with a specialised course in Advanced Psychopathology (12 EC). This course is followed by the Methods and Techniques in Neurobiology course (6 EC). Finally, students can attend a third course Brain Programming (6 EC).
Additionally, you may sign up for the practical skills master course Laboratory Animal Course (art.9) (6EC) or for courses from the third year of the Bachelor’s programme Psychobiologie like Analysis of Neural Signals (12 EC) or Imaging the Brain (6 EC).
Please note that the ECs of Bachelor's courses are not valid for your Master's programme.
Master's thesis & research projects
During the Master’s track, every student writes a Master’s thesis (12 EC) and takes part in one or two research projects. The thesis can be organised on an individual basis, at any time during the year. Practical training during an internship is often tailor made and frequently takes place at the UvA, VUMC or in any of the UvA related institutes (NIN, AMC), other Dutch laboratories (UU, RUG, EUR, RUL, UM) or abroad. In the second year, students can choose to take courses from the other neuroscience tracks, or do an extended research project.
Next to the core curriculum, the track offers specialised seminars, master classes and a summer school the students can attend.