Computational and Quantitative Biology PhD

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    Computational Biology is a novel emerging discipline at the forefront of Computer Science, Physics, Engineering and Biology aimed at posing the main open questions for the understanding of the molecular basis of life as diseases in algorithmic terms. This involves the modeling of biological systems as sets of interacting entities and the definition of integration strategies from multiple source of information to obtain more comprehensive models. Given the complexity of the underlying phenomena and the huge amount of data currently generated by modern “omics” technologies, Computational and Quantitative Biology are the ideal arena to develop and apply novel state-of-the-art machine learning models, exploratory algorithms for big data and computational statistics methodologies together with advances Systems Biology approaches in order to drive the next discoveries in the Life Science.
    The main objective of the Computational Biology PhD joint program is to train the next generation of scientists who are both passionate about developing novel computational strategies for molecular biology and are committed to functioning at a high level in both computational and biological field. The program emphasizes multidisciplinary competency, interdisciplinary collaboration, and transdisciplinary research, and offers an integrated and customizable curriculum that consists of two semesters of formal teaching courses and experimental work tailored to each student’s background and interests, research rotations with faculty mentors spanning computational biology’s core disciplines, and dissertation research.


    First year

    The time to degree of the Computational Biology program is three years. The first year of the program is aimed at gaining competency in computational biology, biological sciences, and bioinformatics. Separate curricula are designed for students who graduated in Chemistry and Life Sciences and for those with ed in Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics backgrounds. The definition of student-specific first year curriculum will be agreed with the Faculty advisor committee. Specifically all first-year students must:

    • Perform three rotations with Core faculty, 2 months each
    • Complete course work requirements
    • Attend the computational biology seminar series

    Laboratory Rotations

    Entering students are required to complete three laboratory rotations of two months each during their first year in the program to choose a PhD Advisor under whose supervision dissertation research will be conducted.


    Second-year and beyond

    At the beginning of the second year, students begin full-time dissertation research under the supervision of their dissertation advisor. Students are required to continue to participate annually in the computational biology seminar series.

    Qualifying Examination

    Students are expected to take and pass an oral Qualifying Examination (QE) by the end of of their second year. Students must present a written dissertation proposal to the QE committee.

    The Dissertation

    Dissertation projects will represent scholarly, independent and novel research that contributes new knowledge to Computational Biology by integrating knowledge and methodologies from both the biological and computational sciences. Students must submit their dissertation to the Faculty Advisory Committee. At least two independent reviewers will be nominated by the Committee for a preliminary evaluation of the Dissertation. After a maximum of two rounds of review, and acceptance the Dissertation can be defended in front of a Committee nominated by the Faculty Advisory Committee. The students who want to access to the Dissertation Defence must have at least one paper formally accepted as first author in an International Journal with Impact Factor.


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