The Center for Neurogenomics and cognitive research (CNCR) offers unique education in Neurosciences for students in different phases of their scientific career: Bachelor, Master and PhD students. These training opportunities in Neurosciences are organized by excellent teachers at the VU campus, accompanied by other universities in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other EU countries. The CNCR education program provides an excellent, multicultural and inspiring environment for a new generation of integrative neuroscientists. We deliver skilled Neuroscientists, prepared for future challenges in neuroscience with optimal career opportunities. They will have the ability to contribute to developing strategies for treating, and possibly even preventing brain disorders.

VU Bachelor- and Master training opportunities
Bachelor courses
At the VU, we participate in major bachelor curriculi.

These include:
– Biomedical Sciences
– Biology
– Biological Psychology
– and Health and Life Sciences.

Biomedical Sciences:
Two different tracks are offered at this course:
Neurosciences track: This specific track is under the coordination of Hylke Vervaeke, teaching manager of Neuroscience and Education at the faculty of Earth and Life Sciences (FALW).
Behavioural Genetics track: This track is under coordination of Dorret Boomsma, Faculty of Psychology en Education.
In addition to Neuroscience education, we are actively involved in Genetics and Genomics training in the Biomedical Sciences in FALW. We teach basic bachelor courses e.g. Medical Genomics (supervisor Matthijs Verhage) and specialization courses e.g. Human Genetics (supervisor Peter Heutink). For excellent medical students involved in the honours programs, we are developing translational programs to built new bridges between medical and research training (at the VUmc).

Master courses
The “Research Master of Neuroscience‚ program is an internationally oriented two-year master, specialized in neurosciences,. (Inter)national students with various bachelor backgrounds can enter this program. We aim at an Integrative Neurosciences approach, including all levels of analysis from molecules up to behavior.
The link from genes (genotype) to behavior (phenotype) will be studied in experimental animal models, whereas the reverse genetic approach requires human phenotyping in relation to genotyping and genetic epidemiology as well as systems biology approaches. In this kind of research environment, system neurosciences, neurophysiology and neurogenomics expertise meet.

Exchange Honours Master of Neurosciences
Every year, the exam committee (CNCR, Erasmus Department of Neurosciences and the Netherlands Institute for Neurosciences) will admit a selection of students to an exchange honours master program for second year students interested in the field of Neuroscience. All three participating institutes offer a unique, internationally oriented master.
The aim of this program is to select master students with PhD potential, providing them with an excellent research environment during their second year of master training and potentially a subsequent 3 or 4 year PhD program. The exchange master program is unique in the Netherlands and one of the first ‘top master’ programs ever started. It will be highly personalized with tailor made training opportunities within some of the best neuroscience and genetics departments in the Netherlands and abroad. Only excellent students from the Master of Neurosciences programs of EUR or VUA (after 1 year of training) and/or similarly qualified students from other universities are admitted. For admission and application see the following link

PhD Training opportunities in Amsterdam and Rotterdam
The Graduate School Neurosciences Amsterdam Rotterdam (ONWAR) offers a training program for PhD candidates performing their PhD research in the field of neuroscience at the
-Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam (VU University Amsterdam and VU University Medical Centre)
– the University of Amsterdam
– the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (KNAW)
– and the Department of Neuroscience, ErasmusMC Rotterdam.

The joint efforts of this integrated PhD training are in close collaboration with the Neuroscience Institute Netherlands (NIN) and gives free way to young talent, recruited both from within and from outside the Netherlands.
The aim of the training program is to provide graduate students with an adequate overview of the neurosciences, allowing them to be involved in multidisciplinary brain research and to increase their national and international career opportunities.
To achieve these goals, the training program consists of a PhD research project, related courses and broad-spectrum courses for further general scientific knowledge. The latter include training in presentation skills, grant writing and in-depth courses on the physiology and pathology of the CNS.

An overview of all courses organized by ONWAR can be found at

EU training opportunities
PhD training in Europe is under dynamic rearrangement between different collaborating partner universities of different consortia. The Federation of European Neuroscience Societies offers a good portal to get access to information on summer school programs in Europe. At the CNCR, we offer facilities to several International Training Networks, such as Neuromics and BrainTrain. In addition, we are well connected in the so-called ENI network and the European Neuroscience Campus Network (see

The Neuromics Marie Curie Early Stage Training program is hosted by the CNCR and offered young scientists 9 early stage research training projects in the Basic program (9 months – 1 year), from which we recruited 5 PhD student positions for the Advanced program. The programme provided in-depth expertise training as well as basic training to appropriately and systematically approach complex biological questions at different levels of analysis from genome up to behaviour. There are strong technology-driven interactive elements between the various projects. All students, except for those with a natural language talent, will follow Dutch courses in order to be able to mingle more in a social setting. This integral training programme ensures a good overview of the functional Neurogenomics field and its current developments. The research projects dealt with the elucidation of gene/protein cascades and the dynamic properties of the encoded proteins involved in complex neuronal traits. Genotype-phenotype relationships important for the functioning of the brain have been established, allowing discovery of genes underlying neurological disorders in humans. Trainees have become familiar with techniques ranging from gene discovery through gene- and protein profiling, expression cloning and genetic linkage analysis, to visualization of gene products by cellular imaging techniques. The experiments were performed on cell-lines, cell or organotypic cultures from rodent brain or patient material. The projects in the Basic and Advanced programme were part of two research topics that dealt with specific aspects of basic and disease models of synaptic functioning (Protein cascades at the synapse, and Synaptic protein cascades in models of disease).

The projects aim is to train 15 young researchers for a period of three years. Of the fifteen selected researchers, five young researchers will be stationed in Amsterdam (at the CNCR and Sylics), but all early stage researchers will move from one country to another and from public organisations to private companies. The early stage researchers’ career will in this way prospect in both the public and private sector. With a built up international network and three years of working experience, the trained researchers will receive a BrainTrain certificate, and will be offered to extend their project one more year to receive their PhD degree.
An important feature of the BrainTrain project is that young researchers will benefit from the exchange of knowledge and expertise as well as the variety of workshops, courses and conferences organized in Europe and Japan by the BrainTrain consortium.
The consortium is consists of a collaboration between the CNCR and Swedish, British, German, Italian, Belgian, French and Japanese research groups. Of the CNCR, the groups of Matthijs Verhage, Peter Heutink, Huib Mansvelder, Oliver Stiedl and Guus Smit participate in BrainTrain, while the spin-off company Sylics is involved as well. BrainTrain builds on knowledge of genome information and exploits innovative technologies and infrastructure to integrate this to unravel the (dys)function of living neurons, networks and the whole brain. Local specialists offer network-wide training and meetings. Our existing EU funded resources (IP EUsynapse, NeuroCypres, Neuromics EST, and EUROSPIN) will provide an excellent, multicultural and inspiring environment for a new generation of integrative neuroscientists.
For more information about the outline of the project see: To see who the partners in the project are, click here.

In 2009-2010, we have started the European Neuroscience Campus Network (see hyperlink The ENC-Network (coordinated by our NCA director, Arjen Brussaard) is a new partner organisation of Neuroscience Centers in Europe that creates unique exchange opportunities at all levels of education.
Within the ENC network, five leading organizations in Europe are involved (Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam, Bordeaux Neuroscience Institute, European Neuroscience Institute Göttingen, Neuroscience Center Zürich and Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology Coimbra) which offer unique training possibilities and create new opportunities for brain research, from molecule to bedside.
In total, we intend to recruit over 50 new PhD students up until 2014.

Career development plan
For each EU trainee, a career development plan has been set out, tailored to the individual needs of the trainee in relation to the research project. It contains courses/workshops at the scientific and general (scientific) level. Obligatory items for first year-students comprise the poster presentation workshop, which is part of the annual PhD retreat of the graduate school ONWAR. All students are involved in writing scientific papers, abstracts for scientific meetings and to present work at scientific (inter)national meetings. For each trainee, the progress is monitored both through the successful participation in courses and workshops, as well as in the participation in scientific discussions and presentation of work at “pizza meetings‚, the “CNCR seminar meetings‚ and the Dutch Neuroscience meeting.