Spring 2021 - MBB 505 G200

Problem Based Learning in Bioinformatics (3)

Class Number: 2580

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 11 – Apr 16, 2021: Mon, Wed, 2:30–4:20 p.m.
    Location: TBA

  • Prerequisites:

    MBB 741 or equivalent bioinformatics course (undergraduate or graduate).



The problem-based learning course will develop students' ability to exchange ideas in small groups focused on real but simplified problems in bioinformatics. Problems will be carefully selected to cover multiple areas of bioinformatics research. This is an advanced bioinformatics course that assumes the student has previous bioinformatics training. This course is identical to CMPT 505 and students cannot take both courses for credit.


Bioinformatics is loosely defined as the intersection between the fields of molecular biology and computer science. This is an advanced problem-based learning course, suitable for students who wish to learn more about this newly emerging field. Each week a different bioinformatics topic is presented by a different facilitating tutor, covering, for example: genome analysis, sequence similarity searching, evolutionary analysis, protein structure determination, microarray data analysis, etc.

Course Structure:
Each week, the students will be presented with a particular bioinformatics problem designed by the tutor. As a group, they will discuss this problem on the first day, with facilitation from the tutor presenting the problem for that week, to identify learning needs. Students will then research the topic in time for the next class, and perform appropriate computational analyses, if necessary. At the second class of the unit, further discussion and development of a solution will occur. Solution(s) to the problem will be presented at the end of the given week or a short written assignment will be given.


  • Individual and group-based evaluations of participation in discussions and presentations 40%
  • Written assignments 60%


Lecture:  blended (synchronous lectures, attendance is not mandatory; recorded and available
online for asynchronous viewing)

Assessments:  blended; both synchronous (mandatory attendance) and asynchronous assessments



  • access to high-speed internet
  • computer (webcam not needed)



Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).