Course Work

The course work of QBM is designed to provide the students with cross- and interdisciplinary training.

First Year

The core element of QBM’s educational program is a highly integrated interdisciplinary weekly course. This year-long ‘QBM Core Course’ covers major biological questions relevant to QBM in a fashion that introduces and connects the entire spectrum of methods and concepts used to address them in the different disciplines. The course comprises two hour lectures taught by the PIs followed by two hours of computational tutorials supervised by students and postdocs in which the students obtain hands-on experience with analysis of data derived from the days lecture.

To prepare and support the work in the core course, the students take primer courses taught by the QBM lecturers to obtain the necessary background in their non-familiar disciplines. Depending on their background, life science students will take primers in biophysics and statistics/bioinformatics, math/physics students will take primers in life science and bioinformatics, bioinformatics students will take primers in biophysics and statistics. These primer courses begin in October as a month-long compact course and then accompany the lecture course for the duration.

The compact course ‘Mathematical Methods and Physics’ seeks to refresh the mathematical background of life scientists and to introduce more advanced concepts, which serve as a basis for the theoretical primers. During this course, the students will be familiarized with the programming language Matlab.

The compact course/primer ‘Life Science’ covers the fundamental principles of cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry and genetics as well as basic experimental methods. The course is aimed at physicists, applied mathematicians, statisticians, bioinformaticians and engineers.

The primer ‘Biophysics’ is aimed at non-physicists and introduces basic modeling of selected life science problems such as chemical reactions, diffusion, pattern formation and gene expression from a physics perspective and provides the physical background of experimental methods like atomic force microscopy, x-ray crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy and super resolution microscopy.

The primer ‘Statistics’ covers the statistical background of all common tests in a coherent fashion and seeks to furbish the students with the ability to apply the correct tests for each experiment or data set. The course is aimed at life scientists and bioinformaticians.

The primer ‘Bioinformatics’ focuses on data mining and inference using the most common machine learning tools and aims at students without any bioinformatics background.


Simon Kretschmer (class of 2013): "The biophysics primer provided me with knowledge that was very valuable for my collaboration with theoreticians."

Zhan Qi (class of 2014): "I enjoyed the QBM courses and it is nice to learn the knowledge that I am not familiar with but useful for interdisciplinary collaboration, making us communicating more effectively and productively."

Thomas Schlichthärle (class of 2015): "I am very happy about the classes in QBM as they give me a perfect opportunity to fill my knowledge gaps with programming as well as mathematical modelling as I came from the field of biomedicine."


Subsequent Years

The second year curriculum consists of attending a monthly QBM lecture series. The students invite and host external speakers on QBM-relevant topics and attend a journal club with the speakers, followed by their public lectures. Students in their third and fourth year are also required to attend the QBM lecture series. At the annual QBM retreat, students present their research in brief talks (3nd year and higher) and posters (2nd year) and attend the lectures of internal and external invited speakers. We encourage and support the students to attend advanced courses at LMU or other institutions, tailored to their specific research projects and backgrounds. In Munich, the students have many opportunities to participate in diverse scientific activities, such as lecture series, symposia, and workshops offered by five collaborative research centers (SFBs) represented in QBM, the Center for NanoScience (CeNS), and the excellence clusters Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM) and the Center for Integrated Protein Science Munich (CIPSM), following their own research interests.