Program in Quantitative and Computational Biology
Coleen T. Murphy (spring)
Director of Graduate Studies
Peter Andolfatto, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Bonnie Bassler, Molecular Biology
William Bialek, Physics
David Botstein, Molecular Biology
Cliff Brangwynne, Chemical and Biological Engineering
Curtis Callan, Physics
Hilary Coller, Molecular Biology
Iain Couzin, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Edward Cox, Molecular Biology
Benjamin A. Garcia, Molecular Biology
Zemer Gitai, Molecular BiologyThomas Gregor, Physics
John Groves, Chemistry
Michael Hecht, Chemistry
John Hopfield, Molecular Biology
Leonid Kruglyak, Chair, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Laura Landweber, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Simon Levin, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Manuel Llinás, Molecular Biology
Coleen Murphy, Molecular Biology
Joshua Rabinowitz, Chemistry
Joshua Shaevitz, Physics
Stanislav Shvartsman, Chemical and Biological Engineering
John Storey, Molecular Biology
David Tank, Molecular Biology and Physics
Olga Troyanskaya, Computer Science
Eric Wieschaus, Molecular Biology
Ned Wingreen, Molecular Biology
Haw Yang, Chemistry
The Program in Quantitative and Computational Biology (QCB) is intended to facilitate graduate education at Princeton at the interface of biology and the more quantitative sciences and computation. Administered from The Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, QCB is a collaboration in multidisciplinary graduate education among faculty in the Institute and the Departments of Chemistry, Computer Science, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Biology, and Physics. The program covers the fields of genomics, computational biology, systems biology, biophysics, quantitative genetics, molecular evolution, and microbial interactions.
Who should apply: QCB@Princeton aims to educate the next generation of leaders at the interface of biology with math, physics, chemistry, and computation. We recognize, however, that undergraduates need not have developed skills in both quantitative science and biology to be future leaders. Accordingly, we strongly encourage applications from those with stellar backgrounds either in quantitative science or biology, and the desire to learn the other. As quantitative skills reliably translate well across disciplines, we particularly encourage applications from those with undergraduate degrees in math, physics, chemistry, or computer science. Students receive a stipend and tuition is covered throughout the program.
- An Outstanding Tradition: Chartered in 1746, Princeton University has long been considered among the world’s most outstanding institutions of higher education, with particular strength in mathematics and the quantitative sciences. Building upon the legacies of greats such as Compton, Feynman, and Einstein, Princeton established the Lewis-Sigler Institute of Integrative Genomics in 1999 to carry this tradition of quantitative science into the realm of biology. Under the direction of renowned geneticist David Botstein, the Institute immediately received an NIH Center Grant in Systems Biology, which was renewed successfully in 2009.
- World Class Research: The Lewis-Sigler Institute and the QCB program focus on attacking problems of great fundamental significance using a mixture of theory and experimentation. To maximize the chances of paradigm shifting advances, there is an emphasis on studying molecular networks of central importance to biology, such as transcription and metabolism, in tractable model organisms, including bacteria, yeasts, worms, and fruit flies.
- World Class Faculty: The research efforts are led by the QCB program’s 30 faculty, who include a Nobel Laureate, 8 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 4 Howard Hughes Investigators, and over a dozen early career faculty who have received major national research awards (e.g., NSF CAREER or NIH Innovator).
- Personalized Education: A hallmark of any princeton.education is personal attention. The QCB program is no exception. Lab sizes are generally modest, typically 6 – 16 researchers, and all students have extensive direct contact with their faculty mentors. Many students choose to work at the interface of two different labs, enabling them to build close intellectual relationships with multiple principal investigators.
- Stimulating Environment: The physical heart of the QCB program is the Carl Icahn Laboratory, an architectural landmark located adjacent to physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics on Princeton’s main campus. Students have access to a wealth of resources, both intellectual and tangible, such as world-leading capabilities in DNA sequencing, mass spectrometry, and microscopy. They also benefit from the friendly atmosphere of the program, which includes tea and cookies every afternoon. When not busy doing science, students can partake in an active campus social scene and world class arts and theater events on campus.
- Two core courses: MOL 515 and COS/MOL 551
- QCB Evening Research Presentations (QERPs)
- Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course
- Three additional courses from the lists below, including at least one each from the Quantitative and Biological courses
- Research rotations (a minimum of two required)
- Oral general exam
- At least two semesters of teaching
- Completion of thesis (progress overseen by thesis committee)
QERPs (QCB Evening Research Presentations) is a QCB research colloquium that has been developed for first year QCB graduate students, held on Thursday evenings during the fall term. The colloquium will give students an opportunity to hear about the work our faculty are doing, and is intended to help students with their lab rotation decisions. Students will also get the chance to enhance their skills of orally presenting scientific material to an audience by giving presentations in two distinct formats. One presentation will be on a paper written by a future QCB seminar speaker and the second will be on the students' lab rotation experiences. To complete this requirement, students must attend the weekly QCB seminar series.
For incoming students who are able to arrive on campus early, we have instituted an optional, intensive, inquiry-based introduction to advanced molecular biology technology (e.g. microarray, imaging, ultra-high-throughput sequencing, etc.) combined with a hands-on-the-keyboard introduction to computational biology methods. This course, MOL 500, is held during the month of August before students start as official graduate students in September.
The course of study for each student must be approved by Leonid Kruglyak, the Director of Graduate Studies in the beginning of their first year. Course substitutions are possible with the permission of the DGS.
Quantitative Courses (choose one)
- CHM 515 Biophysical Chemistry I
- CHM/MOL 550 Contemporary Problems in Molecular Biophysics
- EEB 519 Theoretical Ecology
- MOL 510 Introduction to Biological Dynamics
- MOL 536 Advanced Statistics for Biology
- PHY 561/2 Biophysics
- COS 511 Foundations of Machine Learning
- COS 557 Analysis and Visualization of Large-Scale Genomic Data Sets
- QCB/CHE 511 Modeling Tools for Cell and Developmental Biology
Biological Courses (choose one)
- EEB 504 Fundamental Concepts in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior II
- EEB 507 Recent Research in Population Biology
- MOL 504 Biochemistry
- MOL 505 Molecular Biology of Prokaryotes
- MOL 506 Molecular Biology of Eukaryotes
- MOL 507 Developmental Biology
- MOL 516 Genetics of Multicellular Organisms
- MOL 520 Cellular Organization and Dynamic
- MOL 523 Molecular Basis of Cancer
- MOL 525 Intercellular Signaling and Signal Transduction
- MOL 528 Developmental Genetics of Invertebrate Organisms
- MOL 545 Advanced Microbial Genetics
- MOL 559 Viruses: Strategy & Tactics
- CHM/QCB 541 Chemical Biology II
Selected undergraduate courses of interest
(Note: these do not count towards course requirements)
- APC 350 Methods in Differential Equations
- CHE 448 Introduction to Nonlinear Dynamics
- COS 226 Algorithms and Data Structures
- EEB 320 Molecular Evolutionary Genetics
- EEB/MOL 414 Genetics of Human Populations
- MAT 309 Probability and Stochastic Systems
- ORF 406 Statistical Design of Experiments
- QCB 301 Experimental Project Laboratory in Quantitative and Computational Biology
QCB 501 Topics in Ethics in Science
Michael T. Kelly
Discussion and evaluation of the role professional researchers play in dealing with the reporting of research, responsible authorship, human and animal studies, misconduct and fraud in science, intellectual property, and professional conduct in scientific relationships. Participants are expected to read the materials and cases prior to each meeting. Successful completion is based on regular attendance and active participation in discussion. This half-term course is designed to satisfy federal funding agencies' requirements for training in the ethical practice of scientists. Required for graduate students and post-docs.
QCB 511/CBE 511 Modeling Tools for Cell and Developmental Biology
Stanislav Y. Shvartsman
Using a number of real biological systems, course demonstrates how mathematical models of complex natural systems can organize large amounts of data, provide access to properties that are difficult or impossible to measure experimentally, and suggest new experimental tests of proposed regulatory mechanisms. Participants will demonstrate these ideas in the context of cell and developmental biology. For QCB program students, quantitatively inclined molecular biology students, and physics, chemistry and engineering students interested in quantitative biology. An extension of MOL 510.
QCB 541/CHM 541 Chemical Biology II
Joshua D. Rabinowitz, Tom Muir
A chemically and quantitatively rigorous treatment of metabolism and protein synthesis, with a focus on modern advances and techniques. Topics include metabolic pathways and their regulation; metabolite and flux measurement; mathematical modeling of metabolism; amino acid, peptide and protein chemistry; protein engineering and selected applications thereof.