Instructor Insights pages are part of the OCW Educator initiative, which seeks to enhance the value of OCW for educators.
This page focuses on the course 7.91J Foundations of Computational and Systems Biology as it was taught by Profs. Christopher Burge, David Gifford, and Ernest Fraenkel in Spring 2014.
This course is an advanced undergraduate/graduate survey course in computational biology.
- It is not a systems biology course, but topics important for analyzing complex systems will be presented.
- It is not a synthetic biology course, but there is a guest lecture by George Church related to synthetic biology.
- It is not an algorithms course; expertise in designing and analyzing algorithms is not assumed. The essential ideas behind a variety of algorithms will be discussed, but details of implementation are not addressed. Students will have the opportunity to implement at least one bioinformatics algorithm in the homework.
Course Goals for Students
- To develop an understanding of foundational methods in computational biology
- To enable students to contextualize and understand the basis of a good portion of the research literature in this growing field
- An additional goal for graduate students: to gain exposure to research in this field
Possibilities for Further Study/Careers
- Graduate studies in computational biology
- Careers in biotechnology
Students should have a strong background in either molecular biology or computer science. Depending on which course number the student enrolls in, there are different specific requirements.
Every spring semester.
The different versions of this course have different grading schemes. For example, this was the grading scheme for graduate students in biology, biological engineering, and health sciences & technology:
Breakdown by Year
Juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in this course.
Breakdown by Major
Students from biology, biological engineering, computer science, and health sciences & technology enrolled in this course.
During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:
Met two times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 26 sessions total.
Met once a week for 1 hour per session. Optional attendance.
Out of Class
- Work on assignments and the project.
- Study for the exams.