This Course at MIT

This Course at MIT pages provide context for how the course materials published on OCW were used at MIT. They are part of the OCW Educator initiative, which seeks to enhance the value of OCW for educators.

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 7.91J Foundations of Computational and Systems Biology as it was taught by Profs. Christopher Burge, David Gifford, and Ernest Fraenkel in Spring 2014.

This course is an advanced undergraduate/graduate survey course in computational biology.

  • It is not a systems biology course, but topics important for analyzing complex systems will be presented.
  • It is not a synthetic biology course, but there is a guest lecture by George Church related to synthetic biology.
  • It is not an algorithms course; expertise in designing and analyzing algorithms is not assumed. The essential ideas behind a variety of algorithms will be discussed, but details of implementation are not addressed. Students will have the opportunity to implement at least one bioinformatics algorithm in the homework.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • To develop an understanding of foundational methods in computational biology
  • To enable students to contextualize and understand the basis of a good portion of the research literature in this growing field
  • An additional goal for graduate students: to gain exposure to research in this field

Possibilities for Further Study/Careers

  • Graduate studies in computational biology
  • Careers in biotechnology
 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

Students should have a strong background in either molecular biology or computer science. Depending on which course number the student enrolls in, there are different specific requirements.

Requirements Satisfied

None.

Offered

Every spring semester.

The Classroom

  • A large classroom for 100 students with tiered seating and several blackboards.

    Lecture

    Lectures were held in this lecture hall with tiered seating, several blackboards, and a projector.

  • A classroom with several rows of student desks.

    Recitation

    Recitations were optional for most students, and took place in this classroom.

 

Assessment

The different versions of this course have different grading schemes. For example, this was the grading scheme for graduate students in biology, biological engineering, and health sciences & technology:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by problem sets. 30% Problem sets
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by exams. 48% Exams
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by a project. 20% Project
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by project peer review. 2% Project peer review
 

Student Information

On average, 64 students take this course each time it is offered.

Breakdown by Year

Juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in this course.

Breakdown by Major

Students from biology, biological engineering, computer science, and health sciences & technology enrolled in this course.

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

Lecture

3 hours per week

Met two times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 26 sessions total.

 

Recitation

1 hours per week

Met once a week for 1 hour per session. Optional attendance.

 

Out of Class

8 hours per week
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled.
2 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; step of the project due. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled.
3 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; problem set due date. Recitation session scheduled.
4 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; step of the project due. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled.
5 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled.
6 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; problem set due date. Recitation session scheduled.
7 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; exam held. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled; step of the project due.
8 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
9 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; problem set due date. Recitation session scheduled.
10 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled.
11 No session scheduled. Guest lecture scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Recitation session scheduled.
12 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; step of the project due. Recitation session scheduled.
13 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Guest lecture scheduled; problem set due date. Recitation session scheduled.
14 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; exam held. No session scheduled. Guest lecture scheduled. Recitation session scheduled.
15 No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; student project presentations. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; student project presentations. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when lecture sessions are held. Lecture session
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when guest lecturers are scheduled. Guest lecturer
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when the steps of the project due are due. Step of the project due
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when exams are held. Exam
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when recitations are held. Recitation
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when student presentations are held. Student project presentations
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when problem sets are due. Problem Set due date