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Cracking the code of living systems

Understand life and health at a molecular level

Bioinformatics and Systems Biology is a joint degree programme from VU Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Courses are taught at both universities. VU and UvA jointly issue a degree to graduates. As a Bioinformatics and Systems Biology student in Amsterdam, you benefit from the expertise, networks and research projects at both universities and affiliated research institutes.

The programme guarantees that, upon successful completion of the study, you can communicate effectively with your colleagues, irrespective of your focus on experimental or computational disciplines. You will get a basic introduction to molecular cell biology, biomathematics, biostatistics and programming.

During the Master's programme, you can choose between two specialisations, Bioinformatics or Systems Biology, or choose both.

Bioinformatics deals with large-scale data analysis, like DNA-sequencing experiments. Programming, algorithms and machine learning are important elements. Bioinformatics is extensively used within the field of biomedicine, but also in many other areas of molecular biology. 

Systems Biology encompasses modelling large biological networks, in combination with experiments to probe the system. Mathematical modelling, structured large-scale experiments and statistical analysis are important elements in the specialisation. Systems Biology is extensively used in bioengineering and biomedicine.

Excellent international reputation
The programme has an excellent international reputation. Research groups with extensive experience in a broad range of experimental and theoretical research lead the programme.

Integrated programme
The programme truly integrates a Bioinformatics and Systems Biology perspective. Your compulsory courses will tackle research problems within both fields. You may opt to take elective courses with an in-depth focus on a single discipline, such as molecular biology or machine learning.

You will study current issues, challenges and opportunities in both topics.  There are ample opportunities for interesting and challenging internships, in hospitals (such as in oncology and clinical genetics), at biotech companies, at seed breeding companies, in the pharmaceutical industry, in data science and, of course, at bioinformatics and systems biology groups at universities.

Supervision 
You will be assigned a mentor who will support you during the entire programme. Moreover, one of the staff members will supervise your practical coursework and internships.

Which specialisation do you choose?

In the first year in particular, much attention is paid to the basic principles of both bioinformatics and systems biology.

Students with a major in Bioinformatics expand their knowledge in sequence analysis, next generation sequencing, prediction and simulation of protein structures and medical applications of Bioinformatics. Students with a major in Systems Biology expand their knowledge with models of biological networks, experimental verification of models, relevance of systems biology for research and synthetic biology.

In the second and final year students will have two research internships, one in the field of bioinformatics and one in the field of systems biology.

Summary

In the Bioinformatics specialisation track, you will follow three additional profile courses in which you will learn how to write algorithms that can align sequences, design complex bioinformatics workflows to process molecular profiling data, predict how protein folds given only their sequence, simulate protein molecules, and apply machine learning effectively on large-scale molecular profiling datasets in biomedicine.

These profile courses are compulsory for the Bioinformatics specialisation: Major Bioinformatics 

  • Fundamentals of Bioinformatics
  • Introduction to Systems Biology
  • Biosystems Data Analysis
  • Research Project BSB
  • Algorithms in Sequence Analysis
  • Structural Bioinformatics
  • Bioinformatics for Translational Medicine
  • Medicine

You can read more about the programme and course descriptions in the study guide.

Summary

The Systems Biology specialisation track comprises three additional profile courses. In these courses, you will learn how to model large metabolic pathways, how to deal with large and heterogeneous experimental datasets, how to set up experiments to probe biological systems and how experiment modelling and data analysis should be combined.

These profile courses are compulsory for the Systems Biology specialisation:

  • Fundamentals of Bioinformatics
  • Introduction to Systems Biology
  • Biosystems Data Analysis
  • Major Systems Biology Research Project BSB
  • Basic Models of Biological Networks
  • Systems Biology in Practice
  • Statistics with R

You can read more about the programme and course descriptions in the study guide.

  • Bioinformatics

    Summary

    In the Bioinformatics specialisation track, you will follow three additional profile courses in which you will learn how to write algorithms that can align sequences, design complex bioinformatics workflows to process molecular profiling data, predict how protein folds given only their sequence, simulate protein molecules, and apply machine learning effectively on large-scale molecular profiling datasets in biomedicine.

    These profile courses are compulsory for the Bioinformatics specialisation: Major Bioinformatics 

    • Fundamentals of Bioinformatics
    • Introduction to Systems Biology
    • Biosystems Data Analysis
    • Research Project BSB
    • Algorithms in Sequence Analysis
    • Structural Bioinformatics
    • Bioinformatics for Translational Medicine
    • Medicine

    You can read more about the programme and course descriptions in the study guide.

  • Systems Biology

    Summary

    The Systems Biology specialisation track comprises three additional profile courses. In these courses, you will learn how to model large metabolic pathways, how to deal with large and heterogeneous experimental datasets, how to set up experiments to probe biological systems and how experiment modelling and data analysis should be combined.

    These profile courses are compulsory for the Systems Biology specialisation:

    • Fundamentals of Bioinformatics
    • Introduction to Systems Biology
    • Biosystems Data Analysis
    • Major Systems Biology Research Project BSB
    • Basic Models of Biological Networks
    • Systems Biology in Practice
    • Statistics with R

    You can read more about the programme and course descriptions in the study guide.

Internships

In the final year of your Master, you will do two research projects. This can be an individual project or group projects, such as iGEM or the Tesla minor.

Research topics
Typical research topics include: Sequencing workflows, molecular profiling, molecular pathway analysis, drug sensitivity predictions, structural variant analysis, microbial evolution, biomarker discovery, sequence analysis algorithms, data science, tissue modelling, biophysical simulation, metabolic pathways, gene regulatory networks, modelling of signal transduction, stochastic modelling and experimental projects with a strong quantitative approach or biochemical simulations.

Institutes
You can conduct your research projects in hospitals (for example, in the fields of oncology and clinical genetics), at biotech companies, at seed breeding companies, in the pharmaceutical industry, in the food industry, in data science and of course at bioinformatics and systems biology groups at universities.

Change your future with the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology programme

Change your future with the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology programme

After completing the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Master's programme, you will be skilled in scientific research. You will be able to think abstractly on a high level. Also you will learn to deal with rapid and exciting scientific developments in these research areas.

Explore your future prospects
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