המסלול בביולוגיה תאורטית ומתמטית

Theoretical and mathematical biology - MSc Study
 

1. The rationale for opening this study track

The increasing interest in theoretical and computational biology is a force that is dramatically changing the face of biological science. Mathematical approaches incorporated in experiments have become of critical importance in almost every field of biology - from Darwin's theory of revolution, through gene regulation and nerve networks, to models of ecological systems and nature conservation. The innovative experiments in biology involve broad databases, requiring in-depth mathematical and statistical analysis. From the other side, biological questions today are behind a large part of "hot" computational research, and around 30% of the heavy calculations worldwide are currently devoted to biological research. The new experimental arrays and the large databases connected to them require stringent models and statistical analyses, which have therefore become a matter of routine in biology. These new directions and challenges have changed the face of science, and many of the brightest young scientists are rising to this challenge and moving into fields such as biophysics, nanotechnology, and bioinformatics. As a result, in many life science faculties, including at Tel Aviv University, there is a critical mass of senior scientists whose work is on the interface between biology and exact sciences.
 

These changes have barely impacted the curriculum of university studies, despite the clear need and the commitment to preparing and training the next generation of young scientists. The master's degree program in theoretical and computational biology proposed here offers a new and unique way of realizing the vision. The program provides an infrastructure of unique interdisciplinary courses and research projects such as to meet the needs of graduate students with an undergraduate degree in biology or exact sciences. It is built in such a way as to ensure that by the end of their master's degree, students will have achieved a high standard in both fields. Graduates of the program will achieve the appropriate balance of core mathematical courses and biological skills to prepare them for a professional career in theoretical and computational biology. As of today, there is no program of this kind at any academic institution in Israel. The program is certain to attract many of the most promising students.

 

2. Organizational framework

The Graduate School, Faculty of Life Sciences

 

3. Target population and anticipated number of students

The program is intended for students with an undergraduate degree in biology, exact sciences, engineering, medicine, or a combination of these, who are interested in the theoretical or computational study of biological questions. Anticipated number of students: 9 - 15.

 

4. Conditions for admission

Students who have completed their undergraduate studies with a final grade of 80 or above may be admitted to the graduate program in biology in the mathematical and computational track.  Applicants wishing to study in the mathematical and computational biology track must register as master's degree students in one of the departments of the Faculty in which research in the field is being carried out. After the departmental master's degree committee approves his or her admission, the student can register for the track in that department. The program is intended for students who have completed a series of foundation courses in the fields of biology and exact sciences. It is to be expected that many of the new students will have a relevant background in only one of these fields, and the program is planned such as to enable them to make up the requirements in the course of their master's degree studies. Students will be able to take the necessary background courses as defined below in biology, exact sciences, or engineering at any time during the first year of their master's degree studies. These supplementary studies will credit the student with a maximum of 8 semester hours. The program of supplementary studies required of each student will be determined with the approval of the track committee and the advisor.

 

5. Supplementary studies in biology and mathematics

Students are required to make up the following foundation courses in biology and mathematics from the undergraduate degree program, if they have not taken them (or equivalent courses at another university) during their undergraduate degree. Usually, students who have an undergraduate degree in life sciences and/or medicine will only have to make up courses in mathematics, while students with an undergraduate degree in exact sciences or engineering will only be required to make up courses in biology. The supplementary program required for each student will be decided with the approval of the track committee and the advisor, and the supplementary studies will credit the students with a maximum of 8 semester hours. Students in the track will be able to make up the courses during the first year of their master's degree studies.
 

Biology: 3 courses:

  • Genetics (3) - 0455.2526
  • Cellular biology (4) - 0455.1510
  • Evolution (3) - 0455.2536
  • Ecology (3) - 0455.1809
  • Biochemistry - enzymology and metabolism (5) - 0455.2548
  • Introduction to molecular biology (4) - 0455.2549
  • Introduction to plant sciences (4) - 0455.1521
     

Mathematical background:

Students in the track will be required to have a background in mathematics: usually calculus, linear algebra, and probability. Students will be able to take the relevant courses in the departments / schools of mathematics, statistics, computer sciences, or engineering. The personal study program requires approval from the advisor and the committee.

 

6. Definition of requirements

  • Total study hours for the degree: 30 s/h - with thesis
  • 6.1 Required faculty courses - 10 s/h
  • Safety in the Laboratory course (during the first year of studies) – no credit
  • Guided reading and discussion in research groups – 2 s/h
  • Departmental seminar for MSc students – each student will participate in the seminar given by the Department in which he performs his research – 2 s/h each year

 

One of the courses:

 

6.2 Required courses in the track

6.2.1 Track seminar

Course name

Course no.

Degree

s/h

Selected issues in theoretical and mathematical biology

0400.4204

2

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.2.2  Three of the following courses:

Students in the track will take three of the courses from the following list,
including at least one of the "foundation courses" marked with **

Course name

Course no.

Degree

s/h

Molecular evolution

0455-3348

1

4

** Modelling of biological systems - not given in 2015/16

0421-3815

2

3

** Genetics of populations and the theory of evolution

0411-3061

1

2

Selected readings in ecology and evolution

0455-2476

1

1

Sociobiology

0455-2563

1

2

Genetics in the age of personal medicine – not given in 2015/2016

0455-3072

1

3

Predicting the structure and action of proteins

0455-3237

1

3

Introduction to structural biology

0455-3439

1

3

Systems biology

0455-3466

1

2

Algorithms

0368-2160

1

4

Computational genomics

0368-3102

1

5

Structural computational biology

0368-3105

1

4

Introduction to computational learning

0368-3235

1

3

Statistical calculation

0365-2101

1

4

Introduction to probability for statisticians

0365-1101

1

4

Introduction to statistics

0365-1813

1

5

Introduction to stochastic processes

0365-2111

1

3

Planning experiments and analyzing variance

0365-2112

1

4

Statistics for computer sciences

0365-1101

1

3

Probability for dual courses

0365-2816

1

4

Non-collaborative games

0365-3118

1

3

Regression

0365-3247

1

3

Collaborative games

0365-3308

1

3

Fossil evidence of human evolution

0111-2701

1

2

Methods in structural biology

0421-3804

2

2

Behavioral ecology

0431-3380

2

3

** Ecology of societies

0431-3086

2

2

Evolutionary ecology

0431-3833

2

2

From DNA to population

0453-3394

2

3

Principles and use of physical methods in biology

0453-4105

2

3

Identification of patterns

0368-4016

2

3

Close algorithms in combinatorial optics

0365-4150

2

3

Analysis of algorithms

0368-4222

2

3

Algorithmic game theory

0368-4483

2

3

Linear models

0365-4004

2

3

Analysis of survival

0365-4032

2

3

Information, probability and games

0365-4142

2

3

Advanced probability

0365-4212

2

3

Observational research

0365-4071

2

3

Statistical learning

0365-4063

2

3

Statistical theory

0365-2103

1

5

Issues in statistical genetics

0365-4565

2

3

Decision theory

0103-0032

2

2

New horizons in RNA processing

0114-6592

2

2

Macro ecology

0431-4616

2

2

Biological thinking

0659-5415

2

2

 

 

6.2.2 One of the following courses:

Course name

Course no.

Degree

s/h

Biostatistics

0431-4603

2

4

Statistical principles in experiments

0400-6000

2

3

Probability for sciences (in the department of statistics)

0365-2100

1

4

Another advanced course in probability or

statistics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.2.3 One of the following courses:

Course name

Course no.

Degree

s/h

Matlab programming for brain sciences

0455-2779

1

2

Python programming for biologists

0411.3122

2

2

Perl programming for biologists

0455-3065

1

3

Another programming course in the faculty of life sciences, engineering, or computer sciences (Java, C++, R, and so on)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making up to at least 9 hours of courses in the Graduate School or advanced courses in other faculties,
according to the student's research. These hours may (but do not have to) include the biostatistics course
(from section 6.2.2) or any of the required graduate courses (from section 6.2.1).

 

Making up to 30 hours of advanced courses in biology or from other faculties.
Courses from faculties other than biology, exact sciences, engineering or medicine are limited to 4 hours.

In accordance with the university's guidelines, students will be required to choose courses in such a way
that at least 75% of the 30 hours will be courses at a graduate degree level. Each student's study program
will be determined with the approval of the advisor.

 

7.   Makeup of the track committee

Prof. Lilach Hadany

Dr. Itay Mayroz

Prof. Lewi Stone 

 

 

Teachers - The research work will be carried out under the guidance of one of the track teachers with
a background in theoretical and computational biology.
Below is a list of optional advisors:

 

 

אוניברסיטת תל-אביב, ת.ד. 39040, תל-אביב 6997801
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