07 08 Master of Molecular Life Sciences

This programme is accredited by the NVAO,
the Dutch-Flemish accreditation organisation,
which is a member of ECA, the European
Consortium for Accreditation.
Master of
Molecular Life Sciences
Programme Structure
Infectious Diseases
Major Project
HAN BioCentre
Summer Course
Duration and Study Load
Admission Criteria
Future Prospects
Studying in Nijmegen
Andrea Thiele
Programme manager
The Master’s degree from HAN University is an internationally recognized
degree. Students taking our programme can acquire this degree in one year
on a full-time basis (12 months) or in two years on a part-time basis
(24 months). Upon successful completion of all the required courses and
study projects, the student is awarded the title of Master of Molecular
Life Sciences. Such a Master’s degree opens doors to a promising career
or further study at PhD level.
The programme is strongly focussed on applied research and is divided into
five modules: Introduction, Infectious Diseases, Carcinogenesis, Biotechnology
and Major Project. The programme does not only concentrate on scientific
knowledge, but also on developing R&D (Research and Development) skills
in order to teach the students to perform high-quality research in a methodologically responsible manner.
I grew up in a country that no longer exists: the German
Democratic Republic. I had just turned 16 when the Berlin
wall fell. This exciting and unforgettable event had a big
impact on the further development of my life. Never allowed
to travel far during my childhood, I got quite excited
about meeting people from other countries and cultures,
travelling and living abroad. Biochemistry was an obvious
choice: I had always been very interested in science and
had received secondary education with a strong focus on
science subjects. During my studies and my PhD project
in the field of immunobiology I realized how exciting
research is. This was what I wanted to do: solving puzzles
every day! I also quickly found out that scientific studies
and research work are easy to combine with living abroad.
I followed parts of my studies in Scotland, did an internship at Procter & Gamble in England, spent some time as
a PhD student in Switzerland and worked as a Postdoc in
Utrecht, The Netherlands.
More details about these modules can be found in this brochure.
The Master’s programme has been integrated with the contract research activities
of the HAN BioCentre.
In conclusion, with the combination of research and education we offer you
the optimal start for a professional career.
- Focus on applied research
- Interdisciplinary
- International
- Training research skills
- Can be combined with research activities
at the HAN BioCentre
During my time as a Postdoc investigating the molecular
mechanisms involved in the development of cancer, I felt
I was missing something. But what was it? When a student
came to do her internship with me, I soon realized what it
was: teaching! The warm feeling I got from the discussions
with her, explaining, seeing her knowledge grow and
motivating her after the first disappointments in science
was something I thoroughly enjoyed. I applied for a
position at the HAN BioCentre in which I could combine
my broad interest in science, my new passion for teaching
and working in an international environment. Since April
2006, I work as a lecturer, programme manager and project
leader at the HAN BioCentre. My main tasks are to design
and give lectures in the Master’s programme in Molecular
Life Sciences, to organize the course contents and to
individually guide students through the programme.
Moreover, I am involved in the contract research performed
at the HAN BioCentre.
Programme Structure
The programme is devided into five modules. Knowledge and skills obtained in one module
are the basis for the study programme of the following module.
Infectious Diseases
In the introduction module, you will
improve your theoretical knowledge of
cell biology and molecular biology up to
the required level. This is achieved by
following a personal study route designed
by your tutor and yourself after an initial
assessment. The theoretical principles
and techniques of cell and molecular
biology will be studied in lectures, workshops and discussions with the tutor.
Furthermore, you will train your skills in
designing experiments and analysing
scientific papers. The module starts with
a discussion on the scientific method and
the requirements for performing scientific
experiments successfully. Subsequently,
you will analyse published scientific studies
and design experiments yourself. An exam
represents the final assessment of this
module, giving an indication as to whether
the student has reached the level required
for continuing with the next module of the
study programme.
In this module you will acquire knowledge
of the interactions between microorganisms and man, animal and plant,
the role micro-organisms play in the
origin of diseases, and the spread and
epidemiology of infectious diseases.
The module starts with a week of guest
lectures by scientists involved in frontier
research on infectious diseases. They work
at well-established research institutes
such as Erasmus University (Rotterdam);
Leiden University; Wageningen University;
TNO Defense, Security and Safety; Radboud
University Nijmegen; etc. The topics
include malaria, influenza, SARS, HIV,
ebola, avian influenza, BSE and bioterrorism.
Techniques to diagnose malaria are also
trained in practice.
This module also comprises lectures on oral
and written scientific presentations and
corresponding exercises. At the end of the
module, you will give a presentation and
write a review article on the present state of
knowledge concerning a specific infectious
disease. Your theoretical knowledge will be
examined by means of a written assessment.
In the Carcinogenesis module, you will
acquire knowledge of the molecular
mechanisms that are involved in cancer
development. In addition, you will familiarize yourself with diagnostics and the
treatment of cancer.
As in the Infectious Diseases module, guest
lectures by experts in the field are integral
part of the programme. During an intensive
week of lectures, the following aspects will be
highlighted: the processes involved in the
development of cancer (such as DNA repair,
cell cycle regulation, apoptosis), mechanisms
involved in the spread of tumours, micro-array
analysis in cancer research and diagnosis,
cancer mouse models as well as recent
developments in cancer therapy. In addition
to theoretical insights, the course provides
you with practical experience in micro-array
data analysis and genome profiling.
A higher level will be reached by training
research skills. You will develop your own
research plan to drive a clearly defined
project forwards. Furthermore, you will use
the acquired knowledge and your creativity
to design a strategy for developing a new
drug. Familiarization with patent strategies
completes this module. Your theoretical
knowledge will be examined by means of a
written assessment.
The Final Award: Your Master’s Degree
in Molecular Life Sciences
Major Project
In the Biotechnology module you acquire
knowledge of the methodology for modifying the genetic make-up of living cells
and of fermentation technology. Through
genetic modification of micro-organisms,
new products can be produced (e.g.
vitamins, antibodies, enzymes for medical
or chemical applications). Furthermore
desired characteristics can be introduced
or undesired characteristics eliminated.
Genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics,
and metabolomics are relatively new
scientific methods with a great impact on
recent developments in biotechnology. These
methods are used to characterize and compare
strains under different conditions. Once a
recombinant strain has been developed the
production levels and characteristics of the
new strain are analysed during large-scale
fermentation processes.
The following subjects are taught in this
module: gene expression in prokaryotic and
eukaryotic cells, expression vector design,
various gene expression systems (e.g. for
E.coli, Lactobacillus, and Aspergillus);
bottlenecks in heterologous production
of proteins, and production analysis during
fed-batch fermentation processes. In
addition you will learn more about project
management and the writing of research
In the final six months you will work on
an individual basis on a major project in a
research centre of a university, university
medical centre, company, or at the HAN
BioCentre. During this period you will
be supervised by staff members of HAN
University and by a coach from the
institute where you conduct your project.
In this module you will prepare a research
proposal for your major project. You need to
prove not only that you possess integrated
knowledge of Molecular Life Sciences and
the required technical skills and attitude,
but also that you are able to manage
projects. Moreover, you will be requested
to demonstrate your competences in communication, reporting and presentation. During
and after the practical research period, you
will be writing your major project report.
The results will be presented in a viva-voce
examination for a panel, which includes
both supervisors and an external examiner.
If you pass this exam successfully, you will
be awarded the degree of Master of Molecular
Life Sciences.
Foto: Ralph Schmitz
HAN BioCentre
Shufen Ko (Amy)
Full-time student
Just like in my first Master’s programme, which I took
at a maritime university, I could have obtained this
Master’s degree in Taiwan. But, during an information
day of HAN University in Taiwan, I became very interested
in the Dutch way of education. In Taiwan you have to
listen, but here you have to think for yourself. That
was different and therefore difficult for me. Especially
the bioinformatics classes were a challenge, because I
had never had them before. I did my Major Project at a
laboratory of Radboud University Nijmegen. The research
I did was done on frogs. In the future, the acquired
knowledge can be used for human beings.
The HAN BioCentre is a contract research organization (CRO) in the fields
of Life Sciences and Chemistry. As a Master’s student working on research
projects at the HAN BioCentre, you will be able to further develop your
practical and research skills. Supervised by the Centre’s staff, you will
perform interesting scientific research in the fields of molecular biology
and fermentation technology. Literature studies and project discussions
with companies or the HAN BioCentre staff and other students will be part
of your tasks. More information can be obtained from our website
Before I took this programme, I had worked for five years.
The money I earned and a donation from my parents
enabled me to live and study one year in the Netherlands.
This was the first time I studied outside Taiwan. In the
beginning I missed my mother a lot, but thanks to ‘skype’
(free internet phone service) I could solve this problem.
Immediately after my graduation I went back home for
a holiday with my family. Next, I improved my English
and I am now looking for a PhD project, hopefully in
cancer research. Maybe I will return to Europe and the
Netherlands again.
Summer Course
Kees van den Hondel
Professor Life Sciences
This summer course is a prerequisite for both international as well as Dutch
students that have no demonstrable experience in molecular biology techniques and want to attend the international Master’s programme in Molecular
Life Sciences. This course can also be taken on a stand-alone basis without
making a commitment to the Master’s degree.
Usually, the study of gene expression and gene regulation in an organism will
start with the cloning of genes in appropriate expression vectors, followed
by the expression analysis on the protein and/or mRNA level. Needless to
say that knowledge and skills of practical molecular biology techniques are
required for performing research in the field of gene expression and gene
regulation. This intensive course will provide you with the theoretical and
practical knowledge of the numerous techniques involved in molecular
biology today.
The course consists of three months in which the following aspects will
be highlighted in theory and practical laboratory experiments:
• Cloning techniques (such as DNA isolation, restriction enzyme analysis,
agarose gel electrophoresis, ligation, transformation of E. coli, PCR,
Southern blot analysis etc.).
• Bioinformatics (such as restriction enzyme analysis, primer design,
blast search etc.).
• Protein analysis (such as protein isolation, Western blot analysis,
enzyme activity analysis, protein purification, etc.).
• RNA analysis (such as RNA isolations, Northern blot analysis and RT-PCR).
After the study Biochemistry I focussed my attention on
molecular-biological and molecular-genetic research of
bacteria performed at the University of Nijmegen and
Utrecht. I went to contract research organization TNO
to use the knowledge I had obtained at Nijmegen and
Utrecht to set up and apply genetic modification systems
for filamentous fungi. Since 1997 I work as a professor in
molecular microbiology at the Institute of Biology of the
University of Leiden. At present my researchgroup still
works on filamentous fungi.
When a start was made to set up the programme
Master of Molecular Life Sciences at the HAN University,
I made a contribution to this with a lot of enthusiasm.
Since the programme started in 2003 I give lectures for
several modules of this programme with much pleasure.
In september 2006 I have been appointed as part-time
professor in Life Sciences at the HAN University.
Since the start of the HAN BioCentre I also used my
experience at scientific research, education, acquisition
and performing contract research to contribute to its
success. The attraction of working at the HAN BioCentre,
is that we let students contribute to projects that we carry
out for the Small and Middle size Enterprises (SME’s).
In this way the students can already gain experience
during their study in applied research in a realistic working environment. An additional advantage of the HAN
BioCentre is that new technologies and knowledge will
be gained which subsequently will be introduced in our
Bachelor’s and Master’s programme. In this way we will
keep the programme up-to-date and we will always deliver
students who have state of the art skills enabling easy
employment in research. For me it is always special to
teach young people and watch them become enthusiastic
for fundamental and applied research and last but not
least to see them obtain nice jobs in the future.
Rianne Siebelink-Stoter
Part-time student
When I finished my HLO education, I knew one thing
for sure: I never wanted to go back to school! But after
working for 3 years as a research technician at the VU
University Medical Center in Amsterdam, I changed my
mind: I was ready for a new challenge. In the ‘VAP Visie’
magazine I read about the Master’s programme in
Molecular Life Sciences. It was offered at my old familiar
school and just perfect for me. My department was willing
to pay the tuition fees and I was just in time to enrol in
the programme in November 2004.
It wasn’t always easy to combine work and studies, but I
got a lot of support from my institute. I was allowed to
go to school during working hours and I was sometimes
even allowed to work on my assignments on the job.
At first I looked up to my fellow students. Most of them
had a molecular background. But in spite of my medical
prior education I did not experience more difficulties than
my classmates, and because of that I think I did a very
good job.
I liked the fact that the programme was very practical.
The subjects were very up-to-date, especially the Infectious
Diseases module with subjects such as SARS, avian
influenza (H5N1) and bioterrorism. How to apply for
grants and patents, develop medicines and write my
own research proposal were subjects that appealed to
me. Guest speakers from the field were invited for each
module, which made the subjects more real.
Skilled academic and personal advisors guide you through the difficulties you
may encounter during the course. We have an open-door policy for all our
students, and provide foreign students with ‘buddies’ to help them ease into
life in the Netherlands. The classes are small (about 20 students).
and study load
You can follow the course programme on a part-time (24 months) or full-time
(12 months) basis, both types lead to the same postgraduate diploma. If you
have no demonstrable skills in molecular biology techniques, you can take
our summer course (3 months full-time) prior to the Master’s programme.
The programme is scheduled mainly in daytime education and fully taught in
English. The total study load comprises 72 European Credit Transfer System
(ECTS) credits (one ECTS credit is equivalent to 28 hours of study). If so preferred,
the modules can be taken on a stand-alone basis without making a commitment
to the full degree. This last option leads to a postgraduate certificate and
makes the system exquisitely versatile.
The programme brought me more knowledge of molecular
biology, both theoretically and practically. I did my Major
Project at the Cellular Biochemistry department of the
NKI (Dutch Cancer Institute) in Amsterdam. I presented a
poster with my results during an international conference
(ESTRO) in Leipzig, Germany. My intention is to publish
part of those results in a scientific journal. My position
has definitely improved thanks to this programme.
Admission Criteria
Christien Lokman
Associate Professor Life Sciences
The Master’s programme in Molecular Life Sciences can be followed by all
who have successfully completed a Bachelor’s programme in Life Sciences,
Biology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Bioinformatics or Medical Science
(in the Netherlands: HLO). Laboratory technicians with other equivalent
degrees (e.g. MTA/BTA/CTA/Biologielaborant(in) in Germany, T.E.I. in
Greece, BTS in France, analityk medyczny/ technik farmaceutyczny in Poland,
Biologisch/Chemische Laborant in Switzerland) can join the programme after
having demonstrated their knowledge and skills in an assessment.
The applicant must have demonstrable practical experience in Molecular
Biology Research or have attended the 3-month summer course prior to
the programme.
The course contents require that the applicant has a good working knowledge
of English (TOEFL 550, IELTS 6.0 or equivalent score).
Finally, an academic panel will examine whether all requirements have been
fulfilled before approving the enrolment application.
You can opt for different packages, which include university fees, costs of
living, and costs of accommodation, visa, insurance, books and study materials.
For further details, please send an e-mail to Corina van den Bergh
(corina.vanden[email protected]).
Registration is easy. Simply download the registration form from the internet
site www.hanuniversity.nl (foreign students) or www.han.nl (Dutch students),
or send an e-mail request for a form to Corina van den Bergh
([email protected]).
If the number of applicants exceeds the number of available places, the
allocation of the places will be based on the order of receipt of the registration
About twenty years ago I graduated from the HLO
Bachelor’s programme in Biotechnology (HLO = Higher
Laboratory Education). Molecular genetics and biochemistry were my favourite subjects. I was therefore very
pleased when I acquired a position as a technician in this
field at the contract research organization TNO. At TNO
I was involved in research on gene expression in lactic
acid bacteria. Although this subject was very interesting
I realized after a few years that I wanted to be involved
in research at a higher level. I wanted to decide myself in
which direction my project should go. I wanted to present
the results on international conferences myself. I wanted
to write the scientific publications of my project myself.
In short, I wanted to be a scientific researcher instead of
a technician. At that time there was no part-time Master’s
programme such as the Master’s programme in Molecular
Life Sciences. A full-time Master’s programme was not
an option because I needed to earn my own living. I was
very lucky because the head of the department offered me
a position as a PhD student. Nowadays it is very difficult
to find a PhD position when you don’t have a Master’s
degree. But fortunately there are full- and part-time
Master’s programmes available today. So if you want
to deepen your knowledge and develop your research
skills up to a scientific level, Molecular Life Sciences is
just the right Master’s programme for you. This Master’s
programme focuses on applied research in the disciplines
of Infectious Diseases, Carcinogenesis and Biotechnology,
and offers ample opportunities for an exciting career in
scientific research. Upon successful completion of the
Master’s programme you can opt for a research position at
a university (e.g. in a PhD research project) or company
(e.g. project manager, head of a department). The effort
I put in my own scientific development resulted in a career
path from technician, to project manager, to associate
professor. I’m sure you can do this too!
Future Prospects
Sanela Svraka
Part-time student
I noticed an advertisement in a paper or magazine and I
thought it was a nice programme. Thereupon I attended
an information day. The lecturers were very straightforward and sincere. Anyway, the programme appealed
to me a lot and in fact I decided that day to sign up for
this programme.
Before I took the programme I finished the Bachelor’s
programme at the Institute for Applied Sciences of HAN
University, and worked for a year as a technician at RIVM.
The combination of study and work is good, but good
planning is required to finish all the assignments in time.
There was a lot of personal contact with the lecturers and
they were very accessible. This was very motivating and
helped me to know what to do and how to do it.
Upon successful completion of the Master’s programme graduates can opt for
research positions in industry or at a university (e.g. PhD research project).
Examples are:
- Pharmaceutical companies: Development of new medicines
- Biotechnological companies: Improvement and development of
production processes (production of enzymes, antibodies, metabolites
etc. by living organisms such as bacteria, fungi, yeast, plants)
- Research institutes: multidisciplinary research projects in Molecular Life
Sciences commissioned by companies or government agencies
- Academic research
- Forensic DNA laboratories: DNA research
- Food technology: improvement and development of products
Another possibility is to start up your own company in the field of Life Sciences.
When I finished the programme, I continued as a PhD
student because I thought this was important for my
personal development. I learned a lot from the programme
and I noticed that the programme was very detailed, a
thing I hadn’t realized during the programme.
Studying in Nijmegen
Martijn van Hal
Part-time student
Nijmegen, the oldest city in the Netherlands, is situated on a range of hills
near the river Waal. About 20,000 students make Nijmegen a real student
town. The variety in degrees and courses offered by colleges and the university
attracts many students from all over the world. Everyone feels at home in
The citizens of Nijmegen are proud of their city where past and present go
hand in hand, for example, in the shape of historic buildings and modern
architecture. The waterfront with the silhouette of the city centre in the
background is a splendid sight.
Your study will keep you busy, but will undoubtedly also allow you some
time to get acquainted with the city. Nijmegen is renowned for its pleasant
atmosphere. Enjoy a meal in one of the many restaurants or spend a night
in town in a trendy or traditional bar. In the summer you can enjoy the warm
evenings in the many pavement cafés.
If you like culture, Nijmegen is also the place to be. Film, theatre or music,
Nijmegen has it all. And if you like to relax outdoors, you can go for a hike in
the surrounding ‘Rijk van Nijmegen’. The city is also known for its international
walking event ‘the four-day marches’ and its Summer Festival.
For more information about Nijmegen, please consult:
I am very positive about the career opportunities I
encountered doing the Master’s programme. During the
course I had two job promotions and, later on, having
graduated from the programme, I was offered a job as
a scientific project manager for USP (upstream processing)
in the Biotechnology division. For this position the Master’s
degree was a requirement. I started this job in January
Corina van den Bergh
Course Coördinator
Besides that I want foreign students to feel at home in
our university and in Nijmegen. I can imagine how it feels
like leaving your home and go to a foreign country to
study. So, also when there are problems, when someone
needs a doctor and does not know where to go to, or more
simple things like when someone needs a second hand
bike, I will be happy to help them out. Because that is the
thing I like the most about my job: working with and for
For foreign students of our Master’s programme there is
also a Social Programme. To get a Master’s degree you
have to study very hard but it is also important to do some
nice things in your free time and meet some new people.
For example, we offer possibilities to visit typical Dutch
places, we try to make students part of our Dutch traditions
and students can join activities of our university.
Maybe we will meet each other in the future.
If you already have questions after reading this brochure,
please e-mail me at [email protected].
HAN BioCentre
Mail address - P.O.Box 6960, 6503 GL Nijmegen, Netherlands
Office - Laan van Scheut 2, 6525 EM Nijmegen, Netherlands
Location of Study - HAN Institute of Applied Sciences
Laan van Scheut 2, 6525 EM Nijmegen, Netherlands
T +31 (0)24 353 19 78
F +31 (0)24 353 19 90
Information days are held regularly, both in the Netherlands
and abroad. Visit our website for dates and locations.
Foreign visitors
Dutch visitors
In August 2005 I started my job as course coördinator
at the HAN BioCentre. My job is to take care of the organization of all the courses and workshops for the (HAN)
Institute of Applied Sciences. Another large part of my job
consists of the organization of the programme Master of
Molecular Life Sciences and I am the contact person for all
students of this programme. Both Dutch as well as foreign
students can contact me for all kinds of information.
They can ask me anything about the course, the module
schedules, tuition fees, insurance, housing, etc. When
students need help with more complicated things like
residence permits or other IND matters I will also be there
to help.