Master's program
Bioinformatics and
Systems Biology
International program in English for students
with biological and computer science backgrounds
About the program

Launched in 2018, the Master's program "Bioinformatics and Systems Biology" is conducted by ITMO University's International Laboratory "Computer Technologies" in collaboration with Bioinformatics Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Our main goal is to train a new generation of specialists capable of developing and applying bioinformatics methods to solve nontrivial tasks in the field of fundamental and experimental biology.

We approach this from two directions: we welcome both students with biological and computational backgrounds. Students with a biological background will be able to understand computational and statistical methods: how and when they can be applied, or modified, to analyze the data.
Students with a computational background will be able to develop novel and useful computational biology methods. However, importantly, we teach all the students how to talk to each other and understand each other and how experimental and computational methods can be synergistically integrated and used for scientific discoveries in life sciences.

Students of our program will have an opportunity to:
  • conduct real bioinformatics research: complete the full path from high-throughput data to computational analysis and to testable hypotheses;
  • learn from the young team of practicing Russian and foreign scientists;
  • work on real research projects from the first semester;
  • participate in internships/exchange semester at European and American research institutes;
  • study in a multicultural academic environment;
  • a lot more.

Research field

Nowadays, when biological science is at the post-genomic stage of its development, almost every study involves generation of huge amounts of experimental data: genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and other omics data. Bioinformatics and systems biology as interdisciplinary fields that combine biology, computer science and statistics, develop methods and software tools for understanding various biological data, and focus on its correct analysis, integration and interpretation.

Bioinformatics methods are used to solve a wide range of problems from fundamental science to clinical practice and industry, including: 1) studying of evolutionary processes: the origin of species, mechanisms of antibiotic resistance genesis, etc.; 2) investigation of genetic diseases molecular mechanisms and diagnosis of such disorders; 3) structural modeling for the tasks of pharmacological industry; 4) determination of patient-specific therapy for cancer patients and patients suffering from other diseases; and others.

Career opportunities

Studying bioinformatics and systems biology offers students a variety of innovative professions that require expertise and skills in both life sciences and IT. Our graduates can pursue careers as bioinformatics experts in the fields of personalized medicine, the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology, software development and others, or continue scientific track.

Employment places of our graduates
2 years
Duration of study
120 ECTS
Total number of credits
Program language
Track 1 – Data Analysis in Biology

We teach students with biological, medical and related backgrounds the skills of programming, data processing, and statistical analysis and how to apply them in different fields of bioinformatics.

Core courses: Statistics, Discrete Mathematics, Programming in Python, Systems Biology, Medical Genetics, Biotechnology, Comparative Genetics (more: Curriculum)

Track 2 – Algorithmic Bioinformatics

Designed for students with informatics, mathematics and other technical backgrounds who want to apply their knowledge to bioinformatics. Students will learn about genome assembly, analysis and sequencing, as well as develop software solutions to the many challenges of modern-day bioinformatics.

Core courses: Advanced Statistics, Algorithms and Data Structures, Molecular Biology,
Systems Biology, Medical Genetics, Bioinformatics Algorithms, Optimization & Sampling, Advanced Machine Learning (more: Curriculum)

Research work

We believe that critical to education
is practical work on projects.
In this regard, our students work on several real research projects throughout two years of studies and have a high-level diploma project as the outcome.

1 term: "introductory" team projects
2 term: individual course projects
3-4 term: work on Master's theses

All these projects can be done both at ITMO University at Computer Technologies Laboratory, which has a big research group in bioinformatics, as well as with our partners and collaborators from different institutions from all over the world.

Importantly, the student can either continue or change the project at any stage.

Course projects of different years
Master's thesis projects of different years
Graduates reviews
Aliya Yakupova, 2022
The program impressed me by the density of useful and up-to-date information that was taught by practitioners. During the course we have gained comprehensive knowledge which we can already use in practice. Each semester we had collaborations with scientific consultants and had an ability to try ourselves in one or several bioinformatics projects and choose in which of them we want to be involved further. Master project was also a part of huge work which was carried out in the research lab. Here I've found a collaboration that I will continue after graduation and that will help me to dive into the scientific community. Especially considering the fact that I am from the IT industry without any special biology or math background. I am very grateful for quality education and attentive attitude to students! Special thanks to Aleksey, Lada and all the teachers!
Ekaterina Petrova, 2022
Completing this Master's program is an intense, challenging, but very insightful and transformative experience, and I honestly doubt that any amount of online self-education can replace it. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn and practice so many useful skills, for being introduced to the bioinformatics community, for helpful feedback, guidance, and support from brilliant supervisors and teachers doing their substantial part to encourage positive results. I would particularly recommend this program to those willing to enhance their previous biological or medical education but unsure where to start. It is a great joy to observe the progress that my fellow students and myself have made in two years: from some uncertain curiosity about bioinformatics and clumsy attempts at doing our first collaborative projects to confidently presenting our valid contributions and plans in various fields of advanced biomedical research.
Aleksandar Beatovich (Serbia), 2021
I completed my bachelor's degree in molecular biology at the University of Novi Sad (Serbia), in my hometown. After graduating I decided that I wanted to expand my skillset and learn more about programming and data science. This program would combine these skills with my previous education perfectly. The bioinformatics and systems biology Master's program at ITMO University seemed the best choice, since it offers a comprehensive two year education in the field of bioinformatics, focusing firstly on grasping basics in programming and elementary bioinformatics data analysis before applying these basics to real-world data analyses in the second year, all while being set in an international environment in Russia's cultural capital, St. Petersburg. What I've enjoyed most while studying at ITMO is the emphasis on practical knowledge and hands-on teaching methods, which differs greatly from my previous education in Serbia, where the emphasis is placed mostly on theoretical knowledge.
The teaching staff are very professional and dedicated. I was impressed by how important students' feedback was to directors of the program, not hesitating to immediately resolve any issues that would rarely arise. For instance, they did not hesitate to hire mentors for students, including myself, who felt a bit overwhelmed by math-heavy subjects in the first semester. Thanks to these mentors we managed to pass these subjects with good grades and learn a lot more than we could just with regular classes. Apart from the study process, my favorite perks of ITMO is its unique buddy system! Buddies are students of ITMO who volunteer to help international students get through their first weeks in Russia, helping with paperwork, health check-ups, and other hurdles before your student life begins. I would definitely recommend ITMO University to anyone who wants to study at one of the best universities for information technologies in Russia while experiencing student life in its most beautiful city, St. Petersburg!