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Quantitative Biology and Disease Modelling—new study programme at DTU

Thursday 17 Dec 15
by Anette Bill-Jessen

Come spring, prospective university students will be able to choose a brand new BSc programme at DTU. Entitled Quantitative Biology and Disease Modelling, the new programme produces a new type of engineer who can apply quantifiable biological processes to build mathematical disease development models. Head of studies on the new programme is veterinary surgeon Professor Gregers Jungersen from DTU Vet.

As researchers identify more and more elements of significance to the development of multifactorial diseases, it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand the contributory role of various factors in the overall pathological picture.

A new type of study programme is thus needed, where students learn to quantify the significance of the individual biological elements and to apply mathematical models to predict the impact of the various processes on disease development. Using quantitative biology, the different parts of a biological system can be integrated into a manageable mathematical computer model.

"Graduates who have been taught biology, pathology, mathematics, and programming from the very beginning of their studies have never been seen before in Denmark."
Professor Gregers Jungersen, Head of Study, DTU Vet

The new graduates will therefore be able to contribute to improving our understanding of how complex diseases arise and develop in humans and animals, and how best to treat them, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic disorders, and neurological and immunological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, allergies, and chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases. As an important part of the programme, the students will also learn to assess the translational value of data from animal models in furthering our understanding of human diseases.

The new programme comprises courses in, for example, human biology, cell biology, and pharmacology, which students will be taught at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, as well as traditional engineering subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, model physics, and computer programming offered by DTU. A number of new courses will be established by DTU Vet, where the students—throughout their studies—will be able to employ their mathematical and biological knowledge to model biological processes involved in the development and spread of diseases.

"In order to design a computer model of a biological process, you must be a good mathematician while having a good grasp of biology and how the biological data were produced", says Professor Gregers Jungersen, Head of Studies of the new programme.

"Graduates who have been taught biology, pathology, mathematics, and programming from the very beginning of their studies have never been seen before in Denmark", says Gregers Jungersen.

The programme is taught in Danish and is offered jointly by DTU and the University of Copenhagen. It is based on the unique competencies possessed by the two universities within technical, health, and medical sciences.

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