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MS in Bioinformatics Degree Details and Courses
This Master of Science degree is a blended program offering courses from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Whiting School of Engineering. The curriculum is designed around 2 Required Core Courses, 7 Customizable Core Courses, and 2 Elective Courses. Based on your course selections, you will earn between 36-42 credits.
Additionally, this degree program offers an optional culminating experience of a Thesis as a 12th course, for four additional credits at full tuition.
Courses offered through the School of Arts and Sciences have course numbers which begin with 410. School of Engineering (EN) offerings have course numbers which begin with 605. Any EN.605 course descriptions are available on the Whiting School of Engineering’s website.
Core Courses - Required
Complete both courses.
This course provides a comprehensive overview of the key concepts in molecular biology. Topics to be covered include nucleic acid structure and function, DNA replication, transcription, translation, chromosome structure, and the remodeling and regulation of gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Extended topics to be covered include methods in recombinant DNA technology, microarrays, and microRNA.
Students use genetic analysis and molecular biology techniques to investigate chromosome
organization, chromatin structure, functional genomics, and mechanisms of differential gene
expression. Other topics include DNA methylation, silencers, enhancers, genomic imprinting, and
microarray analysis. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology. SCI
Core Courses - Customizable
Choose 1 of these two courses:
Algorithms for Bioinformatics - EN.605.620
Foundations of Algorithms - EN.605.621
Choose 1 of these two courses:
Biological Databases and Database Tools - EN.605.652
This course explores the theory and practice of biological database searching and analysis. In particular, students are introduced to integrated systems where a variety of data sources are connected through internet access. Information retrieval and interpretation are discussed, and many practical examples in a computer laboratory setting enable students to improve their data mining skills. Methods included in the course are searching the biomedical literature, sequence homology searching and multiple alignment, phylogeny, gene prediction, protein sequence motif analysis and secondary structure prediction, and several genome browsing methods. Introductory analysis using the R programming language is introduced. Computer access is required. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry. Corequisite: 410.602 Molecular Biology. SCI
Core Course - Customizable
Choose 1 of these two courses:
Principles of Database Systems - EN.605.641
This course introduces students with a background in the life sciences to the basic computing concepts of the UNIX operating system, relational databases, structured programming, object-oriented programming, and the Internet. Included is an introduction to SQL and the Python scripting language. The course emphasizes relevance to molecular biology and bioinformatics. It is intended for students with no computer programming background but with a solid knowledge of molecular biology. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology. SCI
Core Courses - Customizable
Choose 4 of these courses:
• Semantic Web - EN.605.643
• Neural Networks - EN.605.647
• Principles of Bioinformatics - EN.605.651
• Computational Genomics - EN.605.653
• Computational Drug Discovery and Development - EN.605.656
• Statistics for Bioinformatics - EN.605.657
• Modeling and Simulation of Complex Systems - EN.605.716
• Computational Aspects of Molecular Structure - EN.605.751
• Systems Biology - EN.605.755
• Applied Machine Learning - EN.705.601
Large-scale DNA sequencing efforts have resulted in increasingly large numbers of DNA sequences being deposited in public databases. Assigning annotations, such as exon boundaries, repeat regions, and other biologically relevant information accurately in the feature tables of these sequences requires a significant amount of human intervention. This course instructs students on computer analytical methods for gene identification, promoter analysis, and introductory gene expression analysis using software methods. Additionally, students are introduced to comparative genomics and proteomic analysis methods. Students will become proficient in annotating large genomic DNA sequences. This course covers customizing genome browsers with novel data. Next-generation sequence analysis is covered through sequence quality control and assembly and analysis of ChIP-seq and RNA-seq data. Students complete two large sequence analysis projects during the course. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry; 410.602 Molecular Biology; 410.633 Introduction to Bioinformatics or equivalent. SCI
Many protein-related bioinformatics databases, query tools, and data analysis software tools have been developed to organize and provide biological annotations for proteins to support sequence, structural, functional, and evolutionary analyses in the context of pathway, network, and systems biology. This course provides a working knowledge of various computer-based tools for protein science research. Topics include protein database searching, protein physicochemical properties, secondary structure prediction, statistical verification, post-translational modification (PTM) and networks analysis, protein-protein interaction (PPI) prediction, and bioinformatics approaches in proteomics. Also covered are graphic visualization of the different types of three-dimensional folds and predicting three-dimensional structures by homology methods, machine learning, and neural network analysis. Computer laboratories complement the material presented in lectures.
Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry or equivalent; 410.602 Molecular Biology; 410.633 Introduction to Bioinformatics or equivalent; 410.634 Practical Computer Concepts for Bioinformatics.
This course will provide a practical, hands-on introduction to the study of phylogenetics and comparative genomics. Theoretical background on molecular evolution will be provided only as needed to inform the comparative analysis of genomic data. The emphasis of the course will be placed squarely on the understanding and use of a variety of computational tools designed to extract meaningful biological information from molecular sequences. Lectures will provide information on the conceptual essence of the algorithms that underlie various sequence analysis tools and the rationale behind their use. Only programs that are freely available as either downloadable executables or as Web servers will be used in this course. Students will be encouraged to use the programs and approaches introduced in the course to address questions relevant to their own work. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.633 Introduction to Bioinformatics. SCI
The recent revolution in DNA sequencing technologies has transformed biology within a few short years, decreasing the cost and difficulty of sequencing dramatically to the point where the “$1,000 human genome” is in sight. Armed with complete genome sequences, biologists need to identify the genes encoded within and the variation in these genes between individuals, assign functions to the genes, and put these into functional and metabolic pathways. This course will provide an overview of next-generation sequencing technologies in the historical context of DNA sequencing, the pros and cons of each technology, and the bioinformatics techniques used with this sequence information, beginning with quality control assessment, genome assembly, and annotation. Prerequisites: 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.633 Introduction to Bioinformatics, 410.634 Practical Computer Concepts for Bioinformatics. SCI
This course will introduce students to various methods for analyzing and interpreting transcriptomics data generated from technologies such as oligonucleotides or two-channel microarrays, qRT-PCR, and RNA sequencing. Topics will include scaling/normalization, outlier analysis, and missing value imputation. Students will learn how to identify differentially expressed genes and correlate their expression with clinical outcomes such as disease activity or survival with relevant statistical tests; methods to control for multiple testing will also be presented. An introduction to linear and nonlinear dimensionality reduction methods and both supervised and unsupervised clustering and classification approaches will be provided. Open source tools and databases for biological interpretation of results will be introduced. Assignments and concepts will make use of publicly available datasets, and students will compute and visualize results using the statistical software R. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.645 Biostatistics, 410.634 Practical Computer Concepts for Bioinformatics, or an undergraduate computer programming course. SCI
The next generation of array and sequencing technologies provides the ability to investigate large quantities of genomics information with higher sensitivity, greater throughput, and lower costs. This also introduces new challenges in data management, novel algorithmic approaches, and general interpretation. This course builds on the topics in 410.671 Gene Expression Data Analysis and Visualization to address analysis of both genetic variation and genomics content, including splice variants, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with family-based and case/control genome-wide association, copy number variation, somatic and germline single nucleotide variants, tumor clonality and ploidy estimates, and transcription factor binding sites. Data types will include array, RNA sequencing, and DNA sequencing (targeted and whole exome) with sequence assembly methods presented,?such as de novo and reference-based.?Prerequisites: 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.633 Introduction to Bioinformatics, 410.671 Gene Expression Data Analysis and Visualization. SCI
The emerging field of metagenomics allows for the study of entire communities of microorganisms at once, with far-reaching applications in a wide array of fields, such as medicine, agriculture, and bioremediation. Students will learn the principles of metagenomics through the exploration of published project data and guided readings of recent literature. Using data from the Human Microbiome Project, students will explore practical analysis tasks, including sequence assembly, gene prediction and annotation, metabolic reconstruction, taxonomic community profiling, and more. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.633 Introduction to Bioinformatics, 410.634 Practical Computer Concepts for Bioinformatics. SCI
With the advent of rapid, low-cost whole-genome sequencing, the field of personalized medicine is growing from a niche field to becoming the new standard of practice in medicine. Already, oncology makes use of genomic sequencing to inform treatment decisions based on tumor types, and patients are seeking knowledge about their genetic and environmental risk factors to make informed health decisions. This class explores the evolving field of personalized medicine, examining genomics as well as proteomics, metabolomics, epigenetics, and the microbiome. Students will read and discuss new developments in pharmacogenomics, rare and complex diseases, genomics for the healthy person, and the ethical, economic, and social implications of these new technologies. These topics will be approached with a view toward application in clinical practice. Prerequisites: 410.602 Molecular Biology; 410.633 Introduction to Bioinformatics. SCI
Elective - Biotechnology Course
Choose 1 course from this set of Biotechnology Electives:
This course covers cell organization and subcellular structure. Students examine the evolution of the cell, chromosome, and plasma membrane structures and behaviors, as well as the mechanics of cell division, sites of macromolecular synthesis and processing, transport across cell membranes, cell dynamics, organelle biogenesis, and cell specialization. Students are also introduced to the experimental techniques used in cell biology to study cell growth, manipulation, and evaluation. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry or equivalent.
Students examine cell-to-cell signaling that involves hormones and receptors, signal transduction pathways, second messenger molecules, cell adhesion, extracellular matrix, cell cycle, programmed cell death, methylation of DNA, modification of chromatin structure, and mechanisms of the cell. The roles that defects in signal transduction pathways play in the development of cancer and other disease states will be stressed. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry or equivalent; 410.602 Molecular Biology or equivalent; 410.603 Advanced Cell Biology or equivalent.
In this course, students learn to use the tools of modern genomics to elucidate phenotypic
variation within populations. The course uses human disease (from simple Mendelian disorders to common, complex disorders) to exemplify the types of studies and tools that can be used to
characterize cellular pathophysiology as well as to provide genetic diagnostics and therapies.
Students become facile with linkage analysis, cancer genetics, microarray analysis (oligo and DNA arrays), gene therapy, SNP studies, imprinting, disequilibrium mapping, and ethical dilemmas associated with the Human Genome Project. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology. SCI
This course covers molecular and cellular immunology. Topics include innate immunity, adaptive immunity, the development and function of B cell and T cell antigen receptors, the major histocompatibility complexes, innate effector mechanisms, humoral and cellular immune responses, and regulation of immune responses. Special topics include immunomodulation, immunodeficiency diseases, autoimmunity, evasion and subversion of the immune system by pathogens, immunotherapies, and vaccines. Students are also introduced to the applied aspects of immunology, which include protein and cellular-based immunoassays. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry; 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.603 Advanced Cell Biology I. SCI
This course is an overview of microorganisms important to clinical diseases and biotechnology. Students are introduced to the general concepts concerning the morphology, genetics, and reproduction of these microbial agents. Lectures focus on individual organisms, with emphasis on infectious diseases, biotechnology applications, molecular and biochemical characteristics, and molecular and serological identification methods. Students will also discuss the impact that biotechnology, particularly genomics, will have on the development of antibiotics and vaccines as treatments and preventive measures. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.603 Advanced Cell Biology I. SCI
This course covers the advanced study of viruses with regard to the basic, biochemical, molecular, epidemiological, clinical, and biotechnological aspects of animal viruses primarily, and
bacteriophage, plant viruses, viroid’s, prions, and unconventional agents secondarily. Specific areas of virology, including viral structure and assembly, viral replication, viral recombination and
evolution, virus-host interactions, viral transformation, gene therapy, antiviral drugs, and vaccines, are presented. The major animal virus families are discussed individually with respect to classification, genomic structure, viroid structure, virus cycle, pathogenesis, clinical features,
epidemiology, immunity, and control. The viral vectors and their application in biotechnology are
discussed. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.603 Advanced Cell Biology I. SCI
This course begins by reviewing receptor binding and enzyme kinetics. Various cellular receptors and their physiology are discussed, as are the pharmacological agents used to define and affect the receptor’s function. Students study the pharmacology of cell surface receptors and intracellular receptors. Also considered are the drugs that affect enzymes. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.603 Advanced Cell Biology I, 410.604 Advanced Cell Biology II. SCI
Because of recent advances, powerful diagnostic tests now detect genetic diseases, and there is
promise of gene replacement therapy. In this course, students cover general genetic principles, DNA tools for genetic analysis, cytogenetics, gene mapping, the molecular basis of genetic diseases, animal models, immunogenetics, genetics of development, genetics of cancer, and treatment of genetic diseases. Molecular methods of analysis are emphasized. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.603 Advanced Cell Biology I. SCI
In this course, students learn about how gene therapy can be used to treat or prevent genetic disease in the human population. This course is centered around how disease-causing variations in the human genome, including inherited diseases, mutations, epigenetic modifications, and viral infections, can be targeted using molecular technologies. Students will learn about the benefits and limitations of gene therapy and the bioethical concerns involved with this field of research and medicine. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry or equivalent, 410.602 Molecular Biology or equivalent, 410.603 Advanced Cell Biology or equivalent. SCI
This course focuses on emerging infectious diseases from many different perspectives. The maladies addressed range from diseases that have reappeared in altered genetic forms, such as the influenza virus and West Nile virus, to the lethal hemorrhagic fever caused by the Ebola virus. Also discussed is the threat of recombinant and ancient infectious agents, such as Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, which can be used in biological warfare weapons. Opinions from noted scientists and leaders concerning emerging diseases and the prospects for battling them successfully provide scientific and social perspectives. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.603 Advanced Cell Biology I. SCI
This course provides students with knowledge of the fundamental principles of the molecular and cellular biology of cancer cells. The course explores the role of growth factors and signal transduction mechanisms, oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, tumor viruses, and angiogenesis in tumorigenesis and metastasis. Special topics include cancer prevention and the array of cancer therapies, which include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, stem cell transplant, and immunotherapies. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry or equivalent, 410.602 Molecular Biology or equivalent, 410.603 Advanced Cell Biology or equivalent, 410.604 Cellular Signal Transduction. SCI
This course covers basic concepts and practical applications of modern laboratory diagnostic techniques. Topics include the principles of testing methodology, quality assurance, and the application of molecular methods to the clinical and research laboratory. The test methods to be covered include nucleic acid-based methods, such as hybridization, amplification, and sequencing, non-nucleic acid methods, such as HPLC, GLC, and protein analysis, and technologies such as PFGE, ribotyping, RFLP, and serological testing methodologies. In addition to the test procedures, students are exposed to aspects of statistics, quality control, and regulatory issues, as well as applications of these methods to the diagnosis and prognosis of human disease. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology. SCI
Through a case study approach, this course will cover the basic design issues of clinical trials, specifically targeting protocol, case report forms, analysis plans, and informed consent. The design of a specific trial will be studied to illustrate the major issues in the design of a study, such as endpoint definition, control group selection, and eligibility criteria. The course will also cover the analysis plan for a study, including approaches that are central to clinical trials, such as stratified analysis, adjustment factors, and “intention-to-treat” analysis. The planned analytical techniques will include the analysis of correlated data (i.e., clustered data and longitudinal data), survival analysis using the proportional hazards (Cox) Regression model, and linear models. A semester-long project will include the creation of a protocol, case report forms, and informed consent. Prerequisites: 410.645 Biostatistics or equivalent (recommended), 410.651 Clinical Development of Drugs and Biologics (recommended). SCI
This laboratory course introduces students to methods for manipulating and analyzing nucleic acids. Students gain extensive hands-on experience with plasmid purification, restriction mapping, ligations, bacterial transformations, gel electrophoresis, and applications of the polymerase chain reaction. This course is not recommended for students with substantial experience in these methodologies. Prerequisites: 410.602 Molecular Biology. SCI
This course will use hands-on instruction in automated bioassay systems for high-throughput screening as an entry point to covering pertinent aspects of HTS, such as data manipulation, storage, and analysis; liquid handling robotics, microtiter plate washing, manipulation, and barcoding; HTS assay detectors; and automated devices for assay setup, validation, and visualization. Cost considerations, HTS amenable assay systems, and miniaturization and scale-up will also be discussed. Prerequisites: 410.601 Biochemistry, 410.602 Molecular Biology, 410.603 Advanced Cell Biology, and 410.696 Bioassay Development. SCI
Students in Center for Biotechnology Education (CBE) MS programs have the opportunity to enroll in an independent research course. This elective course is an option after a student has completed at least eight graduate-level courses and has compiled a strong academic record. Prior to proposing a project, interested students must have identified a research topic and a mentor who is familiar with their prospective inquiry and is willing to provide guidance and oversee the project. The research project must be independent of current work-related responsibilities as determined by the project mentor. The mentor may be a faculty member teaching in the biotechnology program, a supervisor from the student’s place of work, or any expert with appropriate credentials. Students are required to submit a formal proposal for review and approval by the biotechnology program committee. The proposal must be received by the instructors ideally one month prior to, and no later than one week after, the beginning of the term in which the student wants to enroll in the course. Students must meet with a member of the program committee periodically for discussion of the project’s progress, and a written document, poster, and oral presentation must be completed and approved by the program committee and project mentor for the student to receive graduate credit. Additional guidelines can be obtained from the AAP administrative office.
Prerequisites: All core courses for your degree program and four additional courses.
Elective – Computer Science Course
Choose one course from this representative list. Other courses may be considered with adviser approval, including 605. courses in the Elective Courses section listed above.
Foundations of Software Engineering – 605.601
XML Design Paradigms – 605.644
Data Visualization – 605.662
Principles of Enterprise Web Development – 605.681
Agile Development with Ruby on Rails – 605.684
Mobile Application Development for the Android Platform – 605.686
Software Systems Engineering – 605.701
Large Scale Database Systems – 605.741
Machine Learning – 605.746
Evolutionary Computation – 605.747
Independent Research Project in Bioinformatics – 605.759
Big Data Processing Using Hadoop – 605.788
Optional 12th Course Culminating Experience
This option extends the 11-course degree program to 12 courses. Also, "Biostatistics" and "Independent Research in Biotechnology" must be taken as Biotechnology electives before this course can be taken.
Students wishing to complete a thesis may do so by embarking on a two-semester thesis project, which includes the 410.800 Independent Research Project and 410.801 Biotechnology Thesis courses. This project must be a hypothesis-based, original research study. The student must complete 410.800 Independent Research Project and fulfill the requirements of that course, including submission of a project proposal, final paper, and poster presentation, before enrolling in the subsequent thesis course. For the thesis course, students are required to submit a revised proposal (an update of the 410.800 proposal) for review and approval by the faculty adviser and biotechnology program committee one month prior to the beginning of the term. Students must meet with the faculty adviser periodically for discussion of the project’s progress. Graduation with a thesis is subject to approval by the thesis committee and program committee and requires the student to present his/her project to a faculty committee both orally and in writing. Prerequisites: Successful completion of 410.800 Independent Research Project and 410.645 Biostatistics.