Course Syllabus

The marriage of computer science and biology was the key to tremendous advances in biomedical research over the past ~50 years.  Computers have transformed biology from a largely observational science, to a data-driven field, enabling new high-throughput technologies for interrogating biological systems. At the same time, biology has inspired the development of algorithms and software tools able to handle the specific features of biological data, and in particular the inherently 'messy' nature of biological systems.  Today, tremendous advances in both computers and biological sciences are promising to fundamentally transform healthcare, as well as our understanding of health, disease, and life in general. 

In this course we will introduce several problems of interest to the biomedical community and will describe how these problems can be addressed computationally.  In particular we plan to focus on 4 major threads:

  • An introduction to modern biology
  • The human genome project
  • Cancer
  • The study of human-associated microbes


The workload for this intensive winter-term class will consist of reading assignments and data analysis exercises using existing computational tools.  We may also issue small programming assignments.

Grading will be based on a mix of the homework assignments and final exam in the class in the following percentages:

Homework assignments: 40%
Final exam: 60%

Class communication

We will use Piazza for this class.  More information about homeworks as well as discussions about the class material will take place on our Piazza page

Attendance policy

This course follows the University's attendance policy. In short, if you will miss class for any reason you should let me know in advance, unless this is not possible (e.g. sudden illness). In any case, please let me know as soon as you are aware that will not be able to attend a class (e-mail is OK). I will work with you to help you catch up on homework or exams if you have to miss any of the lectures.

Illness/emergency preparedness

See for more information.

If you are sick, don't come to class - no need to get others sick. 
Please report sickness on and by email to me.

Academic integrity

I expect that the students taking this class fully adhere to the Code of Academic Integrity. Please read this document in full if you have not already done so. In addition, the University suggests that you sign the Honor Pledge on every examination you turn in. Please read the relevant excerpt from the Code of Academic Integrity (reproduced below).

Honor Pledge

  • On every examination, paper or other academic exercise not specifically exempted by the instructor, the student shall write by hand and sign the following pledge:

    I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination.

    Failure to sign the pledge is not an honors offense, but neither is it a defense in case of violation of this Code. Students who do not sign the pledge will be given the opportunity to do so. Refusal to sign must be explained to the instructor. Signing or non-signing of the pledge will not be considered in grading or judicial procedures. Material submitted electronically should contain the pledge; submission implies signing the pledge.

  • On examinations, no assistance is authorized unless given by or expressly allowed by the instructor. On other assignments, the pledge means that the assignment has been done without academic dishonesty, as defined above.

  • The pledge is a reminder that at the University of Maryland students carry primary responsibility for academic integrity because the meaningfulness of their degrees depends on it. Faculty is urged to emphasize the importance of academic honesty and of the pledge as its symbol. Reference on syllabuses to the pledge and to this Code, including where it can be found on the Internet and in the Undergraduate Catalog, is encouraged.

Course Summary:

Date Details