Qbio honours programme

tree of life

Quantitative Biology & Computational Life Sciences

Discoveries in the biological and biomedical sciences increasingly require combining sophisticated technologies, quantitative measurements, and theoretical approaches such as bioinformatics, mathematical modelling and computer simulations. Hence, modern Life Sciences research faces the challenge to integrate different scientific disciplines and foster collaborative projects between biologists, chemists, physicists, computer scientists and mathematicians to make biology a quantitative natural science.

At the Institute for Biodynamics and Biocomplexity (IBB) we have developed an educational programme for students in biology, mathematics, physics, chemistry or computer-science, with a genuine interest in interdisciplinary work. The aim of the programme is to train the next generation of scientists in Quantitative Biology. The QBio programme has an honours programme for Master's students in the Natural Sciences or the Life Sciences, a PhD programme in Computational Life Sciences (CLS).

1. QBio honours master programme

First year Master's students of the Utrecht University (UU) Graduate School of Natural Sciences (GS-NS) or Life Sciences (GS-LS) can enroll in the QBio honours programme, while continuing their master programme.

The programme has the following components:

  • Application: Before the 29th of September 2023 (see more detailed information at the end of this page on how to apply).
  • Pre-selection : The pre-selection will be done by the coordinators of the QBio program, and will be based on the following criteria:
    1. your letter of motivation expressing your interest in interdisciplinary Life Sciences research,
    2. grades and the particular selection of relevant courses in their Bachelor's programme, and
    3. grades and track chosen during your high school education (e.g. your choice of math courses),
    4. evaluation from supervisors of your current disciplinary Master's programme (Only if you are a second year masters student).
    Soon after your application (max 2 weeks) you will hear whether or not you past the pre-selection and that you can take part in the first part of Qbio honors programme (max. 25 students).
  • Attending Monthly journal club : The students that are pre-selected for Qbio programme will join the monthly journal club meetings. The aim of this journal club is to learn to read interdisciplinary papers and to develop current overview of Quantitative Biology.
  • In the second year of Qbio honours programme, the students will organize a one day symposium on Quantitave Biology and continue to attend monthly journal clubs.
  • It is strongly suggested to perform at least one interdisciplinary research project within the IBB during their Master.
  • It is strongly suggested to write your own PhD proposal as your final literature thesis. Students are free to choose their own research topic, and by which group they would prefer to be supervised (7.5 EC). The supervisor may decide to submit your PhD proposal to NWO.

2. QBio CLS PhD programme (closed)

In the summer of 2016 and 2017 we awarded 2 PhD positions from the research proposals written by the second-year MSc students in the QBio honours programme (for 2018 and later we have no funding for this yet). While writing their research proposal, students have made a choice for the research line of one or multiple participating groups. These PhD projects are being performed within the CLS PhD programme of the IBB.


  • To apply for the honours program please send an email to Dr. Can Kesmir before the 29th of September 2023. Please attach a motivation letter, your CV, and a transcript of your high school, Bachelor grades to this email. If you are a second year masters student, please add your grades from Masters programme that you are following, and a reference letter from your current research project supervisor.
  • Within two weeks you will hear about your admission into the honours program.
  • The precise match between the QBio honours programme and the normal master programme differs somewhat between the GS-LS and GS-NS programmes. Check the websites of your programme, and/or contact your coordinator for the exact rules for joining the QBio honours programme.

More information

The programme started in 2014 with the Summer School in July, and the first spring course was given in March 2015.

Participating groups within the IBB

  • Prof. dr. Rob J. de Boer (co-chair, Theoretical biology)
  • Prof. dr. Sander van den Heuvel (co-chair, Developmental biology)
  • Prof. dr. Anna Akhmanova (Cell Biology, Cellular dynamics)
  • Prof. dr. Han Wosten (Microbiology)
  • Prof. dr. Berend Snel (Bioinformatics)
  • Dr. Can Kesmir (Bioinformatics)

Affiliated groups at Utrecht University

  • Prof. dr. Sjoerd Verduyn Lunel (Mathematics)
  • Prof. dr. Remco Veltkamp (Information and Computing Sciences)
  • Prof. dr. Hans Gerritsen (Physics)
  • Prof. dr. Gerhard Blab (Physics)
  • Prof. dr. Alexander van Oudenaarden (Hubrecht laboratory)
  • Prof. dr. Rik Korswagen (Hubrecht laboratory)
  • Prof. dr. Marvin Tanenbaum (Hubrecht laboratory)
Contact Can Kesmir (C.Kesmir@uu.nl) for further information on the QBio honours programme. Please check out this flyer.