Cell Biophysics
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleNWI-MOL137
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryPB (Propaedeutic)
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Science; Moleculaire Wetenschappen;
dr. J. van Rhijn
Other course modules lecturer
dr. D. Schubert
Other course modules lecturer
dr. D. Schubert
Other course modules lecturer
dr. D. Schubert
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. D. Schubert
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
KW4  (05/04/2021 to 31/08/2021)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
Aims (leerdoelen)
  • Be familiar with the most relevant mechanisms that underlie the generation of action potentials in neurons and muscle cells (Cell Biophysics Project). 
  • Be familiar with the basic molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie muscle physiology (Cell Biophysics Project). 
  • Understand how the passive and active membrane properties mediate communication between electrically active cells and, for muscle cells, recognize how this leads to controlled muscle contraction and relaxation (Cell Biophysics Project). 
  • Understand which main molecular mechanisms underlie distorted muscle control in context with skeletal muscle channelopathies (Cell Biophysics Project). 
  • Understand how at the molecular level the malfunction of ion channels eventually leads to the clinical symptoms of skeletal muscle channelopathies (Cell Biophysics Project). 
The aim of this course is to introduce students of molecular life sciences to cell biophysics, by means of bioelectricity. Bioelectricity is based on unequal distributions of ion over the plasma membrane. Due to the membrane’s specific and selective ion permeability a membrane potential is generated. The membranes of excitable cells, such as neurons or muscle cells contain voltage-dependent ion channels which enable the cells to generate an action potential. In this course we will discuss both the cell-physiological and the biophysical properties of the membrane potential and generation and transmission of the action potential. We will furthermore discuss the specific role and function of ion channels in regulating the membrane potential and excitability of cells. Eventually the students will use the acquired knowledge for interpreting molecular life sciences related problems. To this end we’ll focus on the clinical cases of inheritable skeletal muscle channelopathies. The background the students will acquire during the course will enable them to explain the causality between alterations on the molecular level all the way to the clinical phenotype. In a final patient demonstration with a clinician the MLW students as a group and interactively will diagnose a relevant patient case.  
General topics:
1.            What makes a cell “negative”? The membrane concept
2.            Active membrane properties and the action potential
3.            Muscles I: structure and function
4.            Muscles II: Muscular dysfunction due to Channelopathies

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information
The final grade for this course will be determined by: written test (80%) and lab report (20%). Both parts need to be 5.5 or higher.

Required materials
White coat and safety goggles
Lab coat is needed for the Wet lab part of the course
The syllabus for the course will be provided electronically via Brightspace

Recommended materials
Text book "Purves: Neuroscience 5th edition (or newer)" is recommended for background reading

Instructional modes
Lab course
Attendance MandatoryYes


Practical computer training
Attendance MandatoryYes

Attendance MandatoryYes

Attendance MandatoryYes

Digital Exam
Test weight4
Test typeDigital exam with CIRRUS
OpportunitiesBlock KW4, Block KW4

Test weight1
Test typeReport
OpportunitiesBlock KW4, Block KW4