From Cell to Society

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Course Description

  • Course Name

    From Cell to Society

  • Host University

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

  • Location

    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Area of Study

    Biology, Sociology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Overall aims of the course (scientific and clinical): Aim of the course is to offer an in-depth overview of sex/gender and diversity aspects in medicine from cell to society, to provide an overview of sex/gender and diversity and their implications across a wide range of disciplines (e.g. basic science, pharmacology, cardiology, mental health, social medicine) and health conditions. The students practice a critical approach to existing evidence and learn the tools to apply this knowledge to medical practice. Professional development specifically aims towards the integration of learning pathways in particular: development of reflexivity, ethics (social justice), academic development (critical analysis), patient safety (drug development), professional communication.

    Learning goals: after the course students are able to
    - Describe the meaning of sex/gender and other aspects of diversity for health and illness
    - Explain the role of sex/gender and other aspects of diversity for diagnose and therapy and present examples
    - Describe and explain the role of diversity in major health issues such as coronary heart disease and lifestyle and mental health problems and apply this knowledge to patient cases
    - Describe theoretical developments and concepts in the field of gender and diversity medicine including cultural competence, bias, gender awareness, diversity
    - Explain the intersections of aspects of diversity in health and illness (intersectionality perspective)
    - Recognize and explain gender and diversity bias in research and practice and its consequences for clinical practice
    - Apply a gender and diversity lens to academic papers, research proposals, presentations

    General background
    Health disparities and inequalities exist between men and women across (socio)cultural backgrounds, class, sexual orientation, abilities and age (intersectionality framework). To date, a sex/gender and diversity perspective is insufficiently incorporated in research from fundamental research to drug trials and in medical practice. Understanding the antecedents of differences and inequalities and their connections to biological and social processes is important to improve quality of health and health care for both women and men across their intersections. In this course, we will give an in-depth overview of the relevance for clinical practice of these issues across a number of disciplines and health conditions .

    In week 1, we address sex (biological) differences in basic sciences (e.g. clinical conditions, coronary heart disease) and musculoskeletal diseases and we address sex/gender and research, including women’s exclusion from drug trials. In week 2, we address how gender (sociocultural aspects) and cultural background are related to public health issues in particular lifestyle, cardiology and we discuss sex/gender and ethnicity in pharmacological treatment. In week 3, we will focus on gender and class (incl. poverty and education) in relation to mental health particularly depression and stress. In week 4, we focus on the intersections between sex/gender, sexual orientation, and cultural/religious background and how they relate to health and health care.

    Lectures and small group practicals

    - Presentation of an article from the literature list
    - Writing a paper on gender and diversity in medicine, topic of choice
    - Final examination (open book, open questions)

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Some courses may require additional fees.


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