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Innovative Research Ideas


Admission requirements

This course is open to all students that have been admitted to the minor ‘Quantitative Biology’.


In interdisciplinary teams of 2-4 students the participants study a selection of papers. The use or lack of use of mathematical modeling in these research projects is discussed under supervision of a mentor. The teams give presentations of their findings to the other teams. Moreover, they formulate and discuss ideas for integrated mathematical-biological research related to that performed in the studied papers, such that the proposed ideas are both realistic and experimentally feasible. The teams assess the pros and cons of each of their ideas for integrated Quantitative Biology approaches, e.g. on experimental feasibility, mathematical and/or computational complexity, envisioned issues with integrative approach, etc. The teams document and present their findings to the other teams. The topic or application that is the subject of discussion of a team can be tuned to fit the research interests of the team members in agreement with the supervisor.

Course objectives

Getting acquainted with the possibilities and limitations of mathematical and experimental techniques to a Quantitative Biology approach in a variety of practical research settings. The students gain experience in the application of this approach to a specific research question, and in working together in an interdisciplinary setting. They increase their communication skills in such a setting. They train their skills in assessing the feasibility of proposed detailed approaches.

Final qualifications:

  • Ability to assess the (im)possibilities of application of a Quantitative Biology approach to a specific biological research question.

  • Students obtained practical experience in working in (small) interdisciplinary teams.

  • Obtained practical experience in an experimental design with an integrated Quantitative Biology research approach.

  • Increased communication skills in interdisciplinary setting.


The time table is provisional and provided times are indicative. A detailed final schedule will become available before the start of the minor. It is foreseen that the course runs intensively from week 8 until week 12 of the semester, except for week 10, when an exam has been planned for the course ‘Physics and Chemistry for Biodynamic modeling’. The course ends with presentations by participants in week 13 of the semester.

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Plenary meetings with instruction, team presentations and discussion. Team meetings with supervisor. Final presentation of research plans by teams.

Assessment method

The final grade is computed as weighted average over:
a) Participation in plenary sessions and discussion (10%) (considered as practical)
b) Participation in team work and team presentations (25%) (considered a practical)
c) Contents of the report of the team written on the selected scientific research paper (50%)
d) Individual interview (oral) to test the student’s understanding of topics discussed in the selected paper(s) and the material presented in the report (15%)

The participation in chairing of a presentation session of another team is assessed by 'Pass' or by 'Fail', in which case a reduction on the computed final grade is made of 0.5 points.

In a retake, parts c) and d) are replaced by marks for a revised report and a new interview.

Reading list

Will be announced. A selection of papers on a biological topic is provided to each of the teams. In agreement with the team supervisor a topic may be chosen that is of joint interest of the team members and within the expertise of the supervisor.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information. Exemptions are minor students and fall semester for 1st year bachelor students: the student administration will enroll these groups for courses.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.

Exchange and Study Abroad students: please see the Prospective students website for information on the application procedure.


Course coordinator: Dr. S.C. Hille



Brightspace will be used for communication and provision of course material.