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Welcome at the Department of Computational Biology (DBC)



Director: Nicolas Salamin
Associate director: Alexandre Roulin

Executive secretaries: Maëlle Dutoit (80%), Suzanne Soto (50%)

Lab Manager: Rosanna Pescini-Gobert

Biology is transitioning from a largely qualitative to a more and more quantitative science and Computational Biology is playing a key role in this transition, both in enabling a quantitative approach and in broadening the scope of the biological questions that can be asked.

The mission of the Department of Computational Biology (DBC) has three main components:

  1.  Basic research in Computational Biology
  2.  Use of computational approaches to answer questions that are relevant to biological and medical research
  3.  Teaching and supervision in quantitative biology

In our research, we use modelling, simulation and, in general, computational approaches as main investigative tools. We take advantage from data generated by high-throughput technologies to address a plethora of biological and medical questions, ranging from fundamental aspects of cell biology to those of the entire organism, populations, species, or even whole ecosystems.

Our department is thus a key component across virtually all domains of biology, from molecular genetics or epidemiology to evolutionary biology, which are at the main research focuses within the Faculty of Biology and Medicine (FBM). Despite the diversity of applications, many key computational concepts and tools are common to many areas, since they all involve the analysis of complex data of biological structures or systems. The goal of the DBC is therefore to centralize the analytical expertise while having a broad range of research questions.

Organisation of the Department of Computational Biology

  • Director: Nicolas Salamin
  • Associate Director: Alexandre Roulin
  • Secretaries: Maëlle Dutoit, Suzanne Soto
  • Lab Manager: Rosanna Pescini-Gobert

Research groups of the DBC (see "Research Groups" menu for details)

  • Sven Bergmann
  • Giovanni Ciriello
  • Christophe Dessimoz
  • Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas
  • Ana Claudia Marques
  • Matthew Robinson
  • Carlo Rivolta
  • Nicolas Salamin

Competences and infrastructures in the Lemanic area

The FBM has been investing for many years in establishing research groups in various departments that work in the fields of computational biology, bioinformatics, biostatistics or computational modelling. We are therefore in the exceptionally fortunate situation of having already excellent competences and infrastructures in this field of study, not only in the Lemanic area, but also in Switzerland. These include:

  • A community of groups doing computational biology research (see www.unil.ch/compbio).
  • A network of strong institutions and researchers who exchange their complementary knowledge and integrate their diverse competences in interdisciplinary research projects, including members of UNIL, CHUV, EPFL, and SIB.
  • A well-developed infrastructure with a large and internationally competitive computing cluster and outstanding expertise (VITAL-IT) and connections with the other Lemanic institutions (CADMOS).
  • Existing teaching structures and curricula for educating students in quantitative biology, including courses at the B.Sc., M.SC., and Ph.D. levels, with focus on data analysis, statistics and programming.

Goal of our Department

The central goal of the DBC is therefore to facilitate the uptake of emerging innovations and developments for quantitative biology across various domains. This includes making the best use of today’s technologies, as well as being prepared for those of the future:

  • In biology, the DBC aims at coordinating developments towards the integration and interpretation of various types of ‘omic’ information.
  • In medicine, the DBC wants to play a central role in the fields of personalized care and forefront medical research.
  • In computational science, the DBC aims at contributing to and be connected with state-of-the-art information science, including mathematical modelling and the latest advances in simulation technologies.
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