Selected topics in life sciences


Lecturer(s) :

Lashuel Hilal




The course presents an overview on how recent advances at the interfaces of biology, biotechnology, engineering, physical sciences, and medicine are 1) shaping the landscape of biomedical research; 2) contributing to improving our quality of life and; 3) addressing global health challenges today.


The lectures will highlight some of the latest breakthroughs in biology, biotechnology, chemical biology, synthetic biology, genomics, neuroengineering, and genetic engineering and illustrate how they are being applied today to advance our understanding of living systems and to develop novel tools and therapies for early diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.

The impact on the biotechnology and biomedical industry and ethical implication of each technology will also be discussed.

The topics will include, but not limited to, genome sequencing technologies, genetic editing (CRISPR), personalized medicine and personalized genomics, induced pluripotent stem cells and regenerative medicine, organoids, phage display technologies and antibody and protein engineering in drug discovery, vaccines, synthetic biology, nucleic acid based therapies, manufacturing of biologic medicine, the microbiome and the gut-brain axis in health and disease. 



Biotechnology, life sciences, gene sequencing, genetic engineering, synthetic biology, stem cells, microbiome, CRISPR, antibodies, proteins, regenerative medicine, molecular diagnostics, neuroengineering, personalized and precision medicine.


Learning Prerequisites

Required courses


Recommended courses

Biology of the Cell, Biochemistry, Biological Chemistry, Organic Chemistry.


Important concepts to start the course

General knowledge about

1) Genome Sequencing

2) The human Genome Project

3) Personalized Medicine

4) Stem Cells and Regenerative Therapy

5) Genetic Engineering

6) Gut Microbiome

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

Transversal skills

Teaching methods

The course instructor and/or guest experts in the relevant topics will give the lectures. Each lecture will be followed by

1) an in class discussion on the ethical implications and economic and societal impact of the specific technology or scientific advances covered in the lecture

2) discussion on latest related discoveries shaping the headlines this fall


3) Student presentations on some of the latest scientific discoveries or breakthroughs and team projects.


Expected student activities

In addition to attending the lectures, students are expected to dedicated three weekly hours of personal time to preparing for the lectures and to complete homework assignments.  


Assessment methods

Homework assignments (55%) Students will be given an assignment for each lecture. The assignments will be given each week and are to be handed back prior to the start of the next lecture.  The assignments will be basied on the content of the lecture and are designed to make sure that the students capture the main concepts and take home messages of the lecture

Semester Team projects (25%): To be decided based on the student number and background

In class activities and participation (20%): Each student will be requested to make 2 short presentations (5-10 minutes) on very specific topics or questions related to the contents of the lectures.



Office hours Yes
Assistants Yes


Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)



Chapters from books available at the EPFL Library and selected articles from scientific journals and the general media will be provided to prepare for the lectures and for in class discussions and debates on specific relevant topics.  Additional recommended reading and reference materials will be made available for motivated students.



In the programs

Reference week

Under construction
      Exercise, TP
      Project, other


  • Autumn semester
  • Winter sessions
  • Spring semester
  • Summer sessions
  • Lecture in French
  • Lecture in English
  • Lecture in German