Quantitative Biology and Systems Biology

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MSc Coordinator of the Master in Quantitative Biology and Systems Biology

Prof. Dr. Christof Aegerter (aegerter * physik.uzh.ch)

Study Coordinator

Dr. Karin Isler (studienkoordination * biol.uzh.ch)



The increasing role of quantification in biology, and particularly in the field of systems biology, makes it essential for students to be capable of describing biological phenomena in quantitative terms. These basic skills are covered in two complementary areas. Firstly, students are taught computer-aided and mathematical skills – including, in particular, the standard statistical analysis methods employed in bioinformatics and the computer-aided evaluation of data by means of image recognition, etc. Mention should also be made here of (non-computer-aided) data analysis of the kind employed in physics. Complementary problems, such as working out a quantitative model and solving it (on the computer), provide the basis for acquiring mathematical skills. The modeling methods used here are not only of fundamental importance for systems biology but also for evolution, ecology and immunology. Secondly, students are familiarized with experimental methods and their backgrounds. These include the latest quantitative methods in genomics and proteomics, as well as physical methods and the background to these. Particular mention should be made here of the imaging methods (microscopy and fMRI); this area also takes in the methods used in biomechanics and crystallography and, in the case of ecology and behavioral research, state-of-the-art tracking methods too.



The program is centered around the two complementary blocks described above. A wide range of block courses and special lectures are provided, and students can focus on different aspects (modeling/experimental methods/genomics and proteomics) depending on the topic chosen for their Master's thesis.


BIO 513 Master's thesis (60 ECTS); BIO 520 (10 ECTS).

Students must obtain at least 16 ECTS from the following list, choosing at least two modules from each of the following two blocks. In addition, the module BIO 338 Introduction to Scientific Writing (0 ECTS, one day in September or February) is mandatory for all Biology Master’s students. The module should be taken before writing the Master’s Thesis. Furthermore, the students must discuss the modules selected with their supervisor and include them in the learning agreement.

Block 1, computational methods:

BIO 206 06 ECTS Modelling Cultural Evolution
BIO 219 02 ECTS Biomedical Imaging and Scientific Visualization
BIO 220 06 ECTS Linear Models in R: from LM to GLMM
BIO 330 06 ECTS Modelling in Biology
BIO 369 02 ECTS An introduction to computer programming and agent-based modelling using R
BIO 390 03 ECTS Introduction to Bioinformatics
BIO 445 06 ECTS Quantitative Life Sciences: from Infectious Diseases to Ecosystems
BME 334 06 ECTS Applied Statistics for Biomedicine and Biology: Advanced Linear Models
ESC 201 05 ECTS Einsatz der Computersimulation in den Naturwissenschaften I
ESC 202 05 ECTS Einsatz der Computersimulation in den Naturwissenschaften II
MAT 141 05 ECTS Lineare Algebra für die Naturwissenschaften
STA 121 05 ECTS Statistical Modeling
STA 402 05 ECTS Likelihood Inference
STA 426 05 ECTS Statistical Analysis of High- Throughput Genomic and Transcriptomic Data
UWW 270 07 ECTS Quantitative Analysis


Block 2, experimental methods:

BCH 304 06 ECTS Protein Biophysics
BCH 404 04 ECTS Advanced Proteomics (Blockkurs ETHZ)
BIO 208 06 ECTS Morphometric Analysis
BIO 254 03 ECTS Functional Genomics
BIO 294 06 ECTS Bioinformatics for Comparative and Evolutionary Genomics
BIO 321 06 ECTS Modern Microscopy in Life Science Research
BIO 325 06 ECTS Systems dynamics in cell and developmental biology
BIO 407 06 ECTS Practical Microscopy
BIO 416 03 ECTS Microscopy
BME 321 01 ECTS Design of Experiments
BME 330 06 ECTS Quantitative Biomedicine
BME 331 06 ECTS Highly Multiplexed Imaging
SPI 301 05 ECTS Computergestütztes Experimentieren I
SPI 302 05 ECTS Computergestütztes Experimentieren II

Other recommended modules:

BCH 420 02 ECTS Advanced Protein Engineering
BCH 630 03 ECTS Protein crystallography and electron microscopy
BIO 348 06 ECTS Concepts in Modern Genetics
BIO 351 06 ECTS Principles of Evolution: Theory
BIO 364 03 ECTS The Physics of Life
BME 361 06 ECTS Randomised Trials
ETHZ 06 ECTS Computational Systems Biology ETHZ 636-0007-00L
ETHZ 04 ECTS Biophysics and Macromolecular Mechanisms ETHZ 551-1402-00L
ETHZ 04 ECTS Modeling Course in Population and Evolutionary Biology  ETH 701-1418-00L


Prof. Dr. Aegerter Christoph
Prof. Dr. Bascompte Jordi
Prof. Dr. Basler Konrad
Prof. Dr. Bodenmiller Bernd
Prof. Dr. Brunner Damian
Prof. Dr. Greber Urs
Prof. Dr. Grossniklaus Ueli
Prof. Dr. Hahnloser Richard
Prof. Dr. Held Leonhard
Prof. Dr. Helmchen Fritjof
Prof. Dr. Kurtcuoglu Vartan
Prof. Dr. Müller Anne
Prof. Dr. Pelkmans Lucas
Prof. Dr. Robinson Mark
Prof. Dr. Shimizu Kentaro
Prof. Dr. Stoop Ruedi
Prof. Dr. Trkola Alexandra
Prof. Dr. Von Mering Christian
Prof. Dr. Wanger Andreas
Prof. Dr. Zipfel Cyril
Prof. Dr. Zollikofer Christoph