Columbia University’s graduate program in computational biology and bioinformatics trains students to conduct high-impact biological research using computational and quantitative sciences.
Because biological research increasingly requires multidisciplinary approaches that combine computation and experimentation, you will work closely in teams with experimental scientists. Through coursework, laboratory rotations, and doctoral research, you will learn to define biological problems that can be addressed using quantitative approaches, and design and apply advanced quantitative applications for solving these problems.
All students who complete our programs develop a deep understanding of experimental biology, expertise in at least one area of computational biology, and a solid foundation in quantitative disciplines such as computer science, statistics, and physics. You will also develop more specialized expertise in specific biological problems within your chosen field of interest.
How to apply
To apply to the Computational Biology Specialization, please go to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University Medical Center. The application guidelines and online application form are available at the link.
Curriculum and fields of study
The Computational Biology Specialization was designed by the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (C2B2) as a special track within the Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Studies. The program is designed to give students the specific skills needed to conduct advanced biological research, and offers graduate students the potential to work with any member of the C2B2 faculty as a mentor.
Students in our program typically come with a strong background in an analytical field such as applied mathematics, applied physics, or computer science. The Computational Biology Specialization will train you to develop and apply tools from these fields to address important problems in the life sciences. Our faculty conduct research in a variety of research areas, including:
This interdepartmental, interdisciplinary program includes 14 faculty members (soon to grow to 17) and approximately 60 graduate students.
The Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics is home to one of the country’s most accomplished faculties in computational biology. Over the past five years, our investigators have produced hundreds of publications, a high percentage of which have appeared in top scientific journals. The program has also been very effective in attracting funding, including an NIH planning grant to create the Center for the Multiscale Analysis of Genomic and Cellular Networks (MAGNet), one of eight National Centers for Biomedical Computing and one of 12 interdisciplinary Centers for Cancer Systems Biology.
C2B2 is also affiliated with Columbia University Medical Center, one of the largest and most respected research medical centers in the country. This creates a fertile ground for cross-disciplinary collaborations, including research on driving biological problems with potential implications for the treatment of human disease.
Our faculty specialize in a diverse set of fields including structural biology, molecular biophysics, biomedical informatics, computer science, applied mathematics, and other disciplines, and collaborate on projects with potential applications in human genetics, cancer, infectious diseases, metabolic disorders, neurodegenerative and psychiatric disease, stem cells, and regenerative medicine, among other fields. All of this activity means that students who study computational biology at Columbia University have many opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research at the forefront of biological discovery.
Columbia University research and training in computational biology take place on two campuses, located in the heart of New York City. The Columbia University Medical Center campus houses laboratories dedicated to biomedical research. Students who pursue training under the mentorship of faculty in basic science and engineering departments are based at Columbia’s main campus.
The Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics has developed a high-performance computing facility that is dedicated to biological and biomedical research. C2B2 also works closely with the Columbia Genome Center, which has state-of-the-art facilities for next-generation sequencing and high-throughput screening. PhD students have opportunities to use these facilities to advance research on their chosen biological problems of interest.
Students at Columbia come from across the United States and from around the world. They arrive with diverse backgrounds and interests, including biological sciences, computer science, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and other fields. This wide range of experiences creates a highly dynamic, collaborative, and intellectually stimulating environment within which to develop the knowledge and skills to conduct research in computational biology and bioinformatics.
Students benefit not only from coursework and lab work, but also from many opportunities to attend symposia and conferences on a wide range of topics across the Columbia campus. Once you begin your lab rotations, you will join other graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty in regular meetings to discuss ongoing research. Students also attend an annual retreat to learn about computational biology work being conducted in other labs across campus.
Living in New York City also offers countless opportunities to take advantage of the cultural activities for which this world-class city is renowned.
Careers in computational biology and bioinformatics
Because of the increasing importance of computational biological research to the future of the biological sciences, graduates with specific training in computational biology and bioinformatics are currently in high demand. With the increasing importance of genomics and other related fields to the future of biology, many laboratories seek well-trained computational biologists who can collaborate with experimental biologists and use sophisticated quantitative tools to analyze large datasets.
After graduation, PhD students at the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics have gone on to pursue successful careers in academia and in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.
If you have questions about our program or require further information, please contact us.
Graduate Program in Computational and Systems Biology