Applications of Fluorescence in the Life Sciences

Hands-On Experience and Practical Application
Fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy have become common techniques in cell biology and biophysics. This is due to the incredibly high sensitivity and selectivity of fluorescence, combined with its non-invasive nature. In particular, the development of super-resolution microscopy (Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 2014) and the introduction of fluorescent proteins (Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 2008) have brought about a leap forward in the study of intracellular processes. It is now possible to localize a single fluorescently labelled protein molecule inside a living cell with nanometric accuracy.
Course levelAdvanced Bachelor/Master, open to PhD staff and professionals
Session 2 14 July to 28 July 2018
Recommended course combination 
Session 1: Nature and Nurture: Twin Research and Human GeneticsNeurodegenerative Diseases: From Lab to Patient and Back
Session 3: Out of my Mind: Embodied Cognition, Mechanistic Explanation and Mental Disorder
Co-ordinating lecturerDr Y. J. M. Bollen, Prof. Dr H. Lill
Other lecturers    To be announced
Form(s) of tuitionLectures, group work
Form(s) of assessment    Written examination
ECTS    3 credits
Contact hours45
Tuition fee€1.150
Students and professionals in the field of life sciences wanting to learn more about fluorescence techniques. For example for later use in research. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please let us know. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students and professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds.
High school-level knowledge of physics and chemistry.

This course begins by discussing the theoretical basis of these phenomena, but its main focus is their practical application. We explain and give you hands-on experience with a broad range of techniques in this field, including absorption spectroscopy, various types of fluorescence spectroscopy (polarization, FRET, etc.) and fluorescence microscopy (confocal, TIRF, lifetime imaging, etc.). Their use in modern biophysics and cell biology research is further illustrated with the help of case studies from our own lab and from recent literature.


Visit to Museum Boerhaave, the Dutch national museum for the history of science and medicine in Leiden.

At the end of this course you:

  • Understand how electromagnetic waves interact with matter.
  • Are familiar with various fluorescence-based experimentation techniques in the life sciences, and know which to use for a particular kind of research question.
  • Can evaluate results obtained using such techniques.
  • Can interpret and judge current literature describing related experimental work in cell biology or biophysics.
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