The master in Bioinformatics and modelling is open to a large range of students, from biologists to informaticians. The master aims at giving to the students an overview of various aspects of Bioinformatics and Biomodelling. It includes both theoretical and practicals courses, which are organized around 3 main topics:
  • Genomics, proteomics and evolution
  • Biophysics and structural bioinformatics
  • modelling biological systems

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    Genomics, proteomics and evolution

    Genomics investigates the collection of genetic material in an organism. The goal here is to sequence this material to obtain a complete picture of the DNA and then identify a subset of genes that are relevant or interesting from a particular perspective. One can compare complete sequences to understand the evolutionary relationships between species, identify genetic defects that or examine other matters like the regulatory regions that govern the expression of the genes inside the cell.

    Proteomics on the other hand is concerned with the study of the proteome, i.e. the collection of all proteins in the cells of organisms. It also includes investigations into the interaction between proteins, what changes they may experience and their role within the cell. The complexity of this field (next to their large numbers) lies mostly in the fact that they are only expressed at certain points in the life of a cell, they can be located anywhere in the cell and they can be transformed by other post-translational processes.

    As already indicated, both the genetic and proteomic information can be used to study the evolutionary relationship between species. In this manner insight is obtained in the functional relevance of both information sources.

    Both genomic and proteomic data and their analysis are playing an important role in current biological and medical research. Through a number of introductionary and specialized courses this ULB master program will bring you up to speed with the state of the art.


    Biophysics and structural bioinformatics

    Structural bioinformatics has it roots in the development of techniques to represent the structural complexities of protein data, which is obtained either by Xray crystallography or NMR experiments. This kind of bioinformatics research aids biologists in the understanding of biological systems and how perturbations (like disease related mutations) affect the functional behavior. Whereas genetic analysis provides only the relationship between sequences and the functional consequences, structural analysis may provide insight into the mechanisms that produce these consequences, which may ultimately lead to the understanding of the relationship between structure and function.

    Structural bioinformatics covers several areas that hold great promise: (1) creating and infrastructure for building up structural models from component parts, (2) gaining the ability to understand the design principles of proteins so that new functionalities can be created, (3) learning how to design drugs efficiently based on structural knowledge of their target and (4) catalyzing the development of simulation models that can give insight into function based on structural simulations.

    In all four areas, results are obtained at an increasing pace. The objective of the current master program is to explain exactly which results this have been and where to go from there.


    Modelling biological systems

    Whereas both previous domains focus on particular parts of biological systems, this part tries to provide an integrated picture of all dynamic interactions that define living systems. In the last years, this holistic dynamic perspective has gained a lot of interest.

    Through the use of both mathematical and computational methods, models have been constructed of different metabolic and signaling pathways. These models have allowed researchers to understand which perturbations lead to normal of disease-related behaviors, ultimately producing new drugs that can intervene in the correct places.

    The third part of this Master program is dedicated to courses that show how to construct and analyze these dynamic models.