Cellular Models for Brain Disorders


Course Objective

This course aims to introduce applied stem cell technologies. A rising
number studies use induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technologies to
model human genetic brain disorders. The course illustrates experimental
approaches to study brain disorders from genetic analysis, stem cell
cultures to functional assays, such as genome-wide association studies
(GWAS), iPSC cultures, neural cell differentiation, 3D organoid
cultures, and functional iPSC product characterization. The use of these
techniques is demonstrated by hands-on training and embedded in short
research projects. Stem cell cultures will be analyzed and results will
be presented and discussed in plenary sessions. Current state of genetic
and stem cell field in neuroscience will be explained in supporting

Learning objectives:
1. The student understands how human genetic studies can guide iPSC
2. The student understands the prospects and challenges of stem cell
3. The student is familiar with current state of iPSC research in the
context of genetic brain diseases, such as neuropsychiatric disorders.
4. The student can follow procedures for good cell culture practice.
5. The student can define a specific research question in a small team
and translate this into an experimental set-up with appropriate
6. The student can process obtained experimental data in a clear oral
presentation in English. The student contributes actively to the
discussion of the other presented projects.

Course Content

This is a practical course. In small work groups you will be introduced
to advanced stem cell technologies and receive hands-on training. By
executing a small research project, multi-disciplinary research
involving genetic studies and stem cell assays, will be illustrated.
Different stem cell cultures, including iPSC and 3D organoid cultures,
will be demonstrated. Theoretical background and methods will be
achieved by using examples from recent literature.

Teaching Methods

lecture, practicals, work groups and presentations.

Participation in all practicals/workgroups is obligatory. Attending the
lectures is highly recommended.

Method of Assessment

The grading will be as follows:
Final exam (lecture content): 30%
Research Report: 20%
Research Presentation: 20%
Practicals / Lab Execution: 30%

To pass the course one needs a grade that is at least 5.5 for every
part; compensation is not possible.

Entry Requirements

Are you enrolled in another program than MSc Neurosciences and would
like to participate in this course? Send an e-mail to the course
coordinator before the course starts so that your eligibility can be


Literature can be studied during the course and will be provided at the
start of the course.

Target Audience

Course for MSc Neurosciences. Are you enrolled in another program and
would like to participate in this course? Send an e-mail to the course
coordinator before the course starts so that your eligibility can be

Additional Information

A maximum of 15 students can be accommodated in the course. Preference
is given to students who participate in the Master of Neuroscience
program of the VU University Amsterdam. Course is taught in English.

General Information

Course Code AM_1218
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. V.M. Heine
Examiner prof. dr. D. Posthuma
Teaching Staff dr. V.M. Heine

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Study Group, Lecture, Practical