Methods in Cancer Biomarker Research

Ph.D. -course

Course description

Course content

The course covers theoretical and practical aspects of molecular cancer biomarkers and how these can be studied in patient samples and material from various types of experimental models. The course will focus on methods to study tissue samples, blood samples, urin samples, and other biologic materials, like immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, PCR-techniques and sequencing, Western blot and ELISA, microarray methods, proteomics, circulating tumor cells and DNA, flow cytometry, bioinformatics and biobanks. Changes in nucleic acids and proteins in different settings will be covered.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing this course the candidate should have:

Knowledge regarding

  • Evaluation of the expediency and application of basic methods in biomarker research on tissue samples, such as immunohistochemistry protocols and in situ hybridization.
  • Good understanding of:

    • PCR techniques and sequencing strategies
    • Western blot and ELISA techniques
    • Microarray analysis
    • Proteomics
    • Circulating and disseminated tumor cells
    • Flow cytometry
    • Cell free DNA analysis
    • Bioinformatics strategies
    • Biobanking
    • Image Mass Cytometry


  • Can formulate problems, plan and carry out research on cancer biomarkers.
  • Be able to assess the expediency and application of different methods in biomarker cancer research.
  • Be able to communicate relevant literature and methods concerning molecular cancer biomarkers

General Competency

  • Be able to evaluate how knowledge about molecular cancer biomarkers can help in understanding tumor biological mechanisms and as a guide to improved diagnosis, targeted treatment and follow up of cancer patients.

Credits (ECTS)

5 study points (125-150 hours student work time).

Course location

Language of instruction
Course registration and deadlines
Registration in Studentweb for internal students.
Master's degree or equivalent education level is required, with the exception of students on the Medical Student Research Programme.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Medical or health related educational background or PhD project related to medical / health related research.
Part of training component
Recommended as part of the training component for all candidates affiliated with the Research School for Cancer Studies (RSCS).
Form of assessment

To pass the course, the candidate must:

  • Participate during at least 90% of the course.
  • Participate actively in the group.
  • 10-15 min long oral presentation to the other participants about an assigned scientific paper.
  • Pass a three hour multiple choice exam. The exam will be evaluated by the course-coordinator.

Grading scale:

pass / fail.

Course overlap
Overlap with BMED320 with 3 ECTS reduction.
Who may participate
The course is primarily intended for PhD candidates who are affiliated with the Centre for Cancer Biomarkers (CCBIO), but is also open to other students, PhD candidates and students at the Medical Student Research Program.
The course is planned to be held next time in the fall 2024.
Reading list

Biomarkers of the tumor microenvironment: basic studies and practical applications by LA Akslen, RS Watnick (2022) 612 pages.

Cancer Biomarkers: Minimal and Noninvasive Early Diagnosis and Prognosis by Debmalya Barh, Angelo Carpi, Mukesh Verma and Mehmet Gunduz (2014) 973 pages.

Cancer Biomarkers by Alexandros G Georgakilas (2012) 382 pages.

(Total 1967 pages).