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Quantitative Biology

Biology is developing rapidly from a mere descriptive science to a predictive science, like physics and chemistry. In this transition a quantitative approach is adopted in which mathematical and computational methods and techniques are integrated with experimental research. Accordingly, the life sciences are currently among the prominent fields of interest in applied mathematics.
The enormous amount of genetic data that has become available in the last couple of years has focused mainly on entire organisms or stadia of development, resulting in biologists being mainly acquainted with statistical analysis methods from bioinformatics. Improvement of microscopy techniques has enabled the tracking in time of biological mechanisms at great detail, both in space and time. One may think of the translocation of signaling proteins or metabolites within the cell (PINs, auxin, NF-k-B, Delta-Notch), motility of cells and the measurement of forces that these exert on their environment. For understanding of these data sets knowledge of dynamical mathematical modeling is required. The growing field of quantitative biology is operating precisely where biology, mathematics and computational science meet.
This interdisciplinary minor, offered in the Faculty of Science as a collaborative effort between Biology and Mathematics, introduces participants to these recent developments and provides them with the basic skills, knowledge and experience required for working in this field or for benefiting best from its approach to experimental life science research. Students will gain the skills to work in and contribute to multidisciplinary team research, starting from their own scientific background and strengths, combining dynamical mathematical modeling, simulation, and experimental research effectively in future research.

General information

  • Size: 15 or 30 EC
    It is possible to follow the complete minor for an accreditation of 30 EC or to follow halve the minor (‘Explorative Variant’) for an accreditation of 15 EC. In the latter case you do not follow the courses Multiscale Mathematical Biology (MMB) and Interdisciplinary Research Training (IRT).

  • Period: September – January; in the 15 EC variants the lectures are in September and October.

  • Language: English

  • Number of participants: minimum is 4 students, maximum 16 for the full time program

  • General information: dr. S.C. Hille (

  • Coordinator: dr. S.C. Hille

  • The minor is provided by the Bachelor Mathematics

NB: Students follow only one of the two courses ‘Elementary and practical biology and methods for non-biologists’ and ‘Elementary and practical mathematics for non-mathematicians’, the one most fit in view of their educational background to give all participants a good starting position with respect to their knowledge of biology or mathematics.


Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Elementary practical biology and methods for non-biologists 3
Elementary practical mathematics for non-mathematicians 3
Physics and chemistry for biodynamic modeling 6
Multiscale Mathematical Biology (BM) 6
Cases from research practice 3
Innovative Research Ideas 3
Interdisciplinary Research Training 9

More info

Program and schedule

The minor consists of three sequential parts. Part 1 provides theoretical background. Part 2 focuses on application in experimental research, providing case-studies and multidisciplinary team work. The full-time modules are scheduled from September till December. In Part 3 personal and team projects are finalized, till the end of January.

A detailed schedule and description of the various courses within the minor will become available here later.


The minor is open to students with a keen interest in mathematical modeling and life science. Affinity with mathematics is desirable. Knowledge of mathematics at the level of VWO Eindexamen Wiskunde B is required. The course starts with lectures designed to clear deficiencies in mathematics and biology. In the admission procedure one aims at a good balance between students from life science and mathematically oriented studies. Students can be invited to an initial interview with the coordinator of the minor and may be asked to study selected parts of textbooks before the start of the minor.


Students of Leiden University
Registration is possible from May 1 till August 1 in uSis. Note that all students will remain on a waiting list in uSis until final placement. The class number required to enroll in uSis can be found (from beginning of April) on the this Faculty Webpage. Please note that besides the full minor (30EC) there is a short variant (15EC). Do choose the right class number!

Students of TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam

Registration is possible from May 1 until May 31 via an online form. This form will be available during this period on the website: Registration minors

Other students

Students from other universities can send an email to: dr. S.C. Hille (

Note: registration in uSis does not directly mean that you can participate in the minor. You will receive an email from the coordinator of the minor that confirms your registration and selection for participation in the minor.