What is Computational Biology?

Computational Biology provides students with a unique set of skills. It combines the rigor of traditional computer science with the data analysis, machine learning, and modeling skills required to understand a complex natural system. It teaches students to think computationally and provides a deep understanding of biology so that students emerge as experts in biomedical problems.

The Computational Biology Program prepares students to directly contribute in one of the many stimulating jobs in areas like biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, or health care industry startups. It prepares them to deal with large, complex, imperfect data sets, a skill that is needed not just in biology but in a wide host of fields, from high-powered finance to data science.

For students considering health care professions, majoring in computational biology provides extensive interdisciplinary training relevant to genomic medicine and personalized and precision medicine. This prepares students well for the changing landscape of health care practice.

 

Bachelor of Science in Computational Biology

The Computational Biology Program at CMU-Q provides an important grounding in both natural and computational sciences. Following the curriculum from Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science, the program emphasizes the importance of framing biological problems in computational terms, and finding computationally rigorous solutions to those problems.

The curriculum is intensive and interdisciplinary, with core coursework in computer science, biology, computational biology, mathematics and general science. The program includes major-specific and general electives, allowing students to shape their degree program according to their interests and goals.

Areas of study

The Computational Biology Program at CMU-Q provides an intensive, interdisciplinary education that enables students to solve biological problems using computational methods.

Big data and machine learning

In this data-driven world, many applications, businesses, and scientific disciplines must collect, store, clean and analyze massive amounts of data to extract critical information. Students learn machine learning techniques to extract information, create large-scale database management systems, and leverage cloud systems and architectures to process this information.

Cutting-edge applications

Many applications have become so popular that they are now sub-disciplines within the world of computer science. These include web applications, natural language processing that enables human to machine communication and automated translation, and computational biology that uses the power of computer science to analyze and understand different biological systems.

Phage genomics research

Students are introduced to biological investigation through research in bacteriophage genomics. The enormous diversity of bacteriophages—viruses that infect bacteria—make them important models for the study of gene structure, function and regulation, population genetics and evolution. Students will use the techniques of DNA isolation, next generation sequencing and computational analysis to identify bacteriophage species and conduct a comparative genomic study.

Computational approaches to molecular and cellular biochemistry

Students are trained in laboratory techniques that are critical to the field of experimental computational biology. This includes microbial and eukaryotic genetics and cell culture, molecular biology techniques such as genetic engineering and next-generation sequencing and design methods drawn from various disciplines of computer science, and applied mathematics that are useful in biological applications.

Theory and logic

Knowing how to program is the first step; knowing how to program well is the next challenge. The theory and logic courses at CMU-Q explore areas such as sequential and parallel algorithms, complexity, languages and automata and graph theory.

Sample plan

What will I do with my degree?

Computational biology is an emerging field that provides students with a unique set of skills. Graduates are prepared to directly contribute in challenging fields in basic research, as well as the health care, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

Careers for computational biology graduates

  • Population genetics scientist
  • Machine learning specialist
  • Pharmaceutical researcher
  • Biomedical imaging specialist
  • Genomics research scientist
  • Bioinformatics researcher
  • Data scientist
  • Software developer

Where do graduates work?

Computational biology is an emerging field that provides students with a unique set of skills. Graduates are prepared to directly contribute in challenging fields in the health care, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

How do graduates in computational biology further their studies?

Students completing the program will be ideally prepared for Ph.D. programs in any of a range of biomedical areas, including Computational Biology, Systems Biology, or Quantitative Biology. Students who choose to complete pre-med requirements will be very well-prepared to attend medical school; the next generation of physicians will need to better understand the computational approaches needed for automated medical testing, automated medical imaging, and the revolution in personalized medicine.

In 2018, the first graduate from CMU-Q’s Computational Biology Program finished her master’s degree at Harvard University, and began her PhD at University of Oxford.

Noora Al-Muftah

“I have so many great memories from Carnegie Mellon, from the hilarious situations my friends and I encountered on trips to Pittsburgh and Tokyo, to the feeling of being part of a community when a former professor recognizes me and asks how I am doing.”

Noora Al-Muftah, Class of 2016

Program at a Glance


Standard completion time

4 Years


Minimum units required for degree:

360 units

Computer Science: 125, Mathematics: 49, Technical Communication: 9, Science/Engineering: 36, Humanities/Arts: 63, Minor requirement/Electives: 74, Computing @ Carnegie Mellon: 3, First-year seminar: 1,


Admission requirements
All applicants are required to meet the following academic and subject prerequisites.


Application deadline
Fall Semester: February 1


Research opportunities

Research opportunities

Students at CMU-Q have many opportunities to engage in research: they have the option of a senior thesis project, independent study guided by a faculty mentor, and summer research opportunities in a variety of laboratories within Carnegie Mellon University and Education City.

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Academic Enrichment

Academic Enrichment

Computational biology students at CMU-Q can choose from an extensive slate of academic enrichment opportunities that enhance their work in the classroom.

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General Education

General Education

General Education includes mandatory and elective classes in a wide range of academic areas, including Arabic, architecture, chemistry, design, English, history, math and physics.

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What will your day look like?

What will your day look like?

Take a look at a day in the life of a student at Carnegie Mellon Qatar.

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Meet the Faculty

Valentin Ilyin

Valentin Ilyin

Associate Teaching Professor, Computational Biology

Khaled Harras

Khaled Harras

Program Director, Computer Science
Associate Teaching Professor, Computer Science

Kemal Oflazer

Kemal Oflazer

Associate Dean, Research; Area Head, Computer Science; Teaching Professor, Computer Science

Saquib Razak

Saquib Razak

Associate Teaching Professor, Computer Science

Gianni Di Caro

Gianni Di Caro

Associate Teaching Professor, Computer Science

Mohammad Hammoud

Mohammad Hammoud

Assistant Teaching Professor, Computer Science

Christos Kapoutsis

Christos Kapoutsis

Assistant Teaching Professor, Computer Science

Giselle Reis

Giselle Reis

Assistant Teaching Professor, Computer Science

Ryan Riley

Ryan Riley

Associate Teaching Professor, Computer Science

Upcoming Events

Spring 2019 Dean's List Ceremony

12:00PM - 1:00PM