Brown, Singapore Establish Degree Program in Computational Biology

November 18, 2009  |  Media Contact: Richard Lewis |  401-863-2476
Brown University and the National University of Singapore have established a concurrent degree program in computational biology. The program will accept NUS students who have completed work on a bachelor’s degree into a master’s degree program in computational biology at Brown. As many as 10 NUS students are expected to enroll annually.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University and the National University of Singapore have established a concurrent degree program in computational biology. The program is the first formal partnership between the two schools and marks Brown’s continuing effort to forge academic ties internationally and to attract talented, motivated students from around the world.

“The sequencing of the human genome has opened a vast new area of research at the junction of the computing and biomedical sciences,” Brown President Ruth J. Simmons said. “Computational biology is growing at Brown. We are excited by the possibilities of this new relationship with the National University of Singapore.”

“NUS is pleased to partner with Brown University, which has an outstanding reputation for innovative education and research, to offer an integrated program in the important area of computational biology,” NUS President Tan Chorh Chuan said. “The joint program will enable our students specializing in computational biology to further advance their knowledge with the pioneers in the field. We look forward to more opportunities to collaborate with Brown University in research and education.”

Under the agreement, students who have completed work on a bachelor’s degree in computational biology from the School of Computing at NUS may apply to the new degree program. Accepted students will come to Brown to pursue a master’s degree in computational biology. When they complete their studies, the students will receive concurrent degrees from NUS and Brown: a bachelor’s degree in computational biology from NUS and a master’s degree in computer science with a special designation in computational biology from Brown.

The agreement between Brown and NUS lasts for five years, with an option to renew.

Brown may begin accepting students as soon as January, said Franco Preparata, professor of computer science and the primary architect at Brown of the agreement. Administrators expect as many as 10 students to be enrolled in the five-year concurrent degree program in each academic year.

The inspiration for the concurrent degree occurred in summer 2007, while Preparata was a visiting chair at the NUS. “The idea came up that we could have a more permanent linkage between the universities,” said Preparata, who has spent his summers teaching and advising at NUS since 2002.

The NUS students will be fully funded for their master’s degree work at Brown, with support from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.

Preparata and Thomas Doeppner, associate professor (research) of computer science, who has also been involved in setting up the concurrent degree, said they are excited about expanding the core of computational biology students working at Brown and strengthening ties between Brown and NUS.

“NUS is an excellent school, first of all,” Preparata said. “Second, Brown is now open very much to international institutions, and NUS is one of the most influential.”

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