Welcome to the class: we are very excited that you are interested in learning more about the foundations of life. In this openHPI course, we will give an introduction about components of human cells and their functions. We dive into the cell core to explore the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), its structure, and how it stores the code of life. Furthermore, we will explore how to discover genetic variants and mutations and how to assess their impact on the cell functions and the whole human body. Ultimately, we will outline how individual genetic variants can be connected to complex diseases, such as cancer. Just two decades ago, all these tasks would have been impossible due to missing knowledge about the DNA and a lack of computational power. As a result, you will learn basic concepts about how to incorporate latest computer science aspects to explore the code of life interactively.
Monday, November 14, 2016 08:00 (UTC) to Monday, December 05, 2016 23:30 (UTC)
Language: English
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Course information


Welcome to the class: we are very excited that you are interested in learning more about the foundations of life. In this openHPI course, we will give an introduction about components of human cells and their functions. We dive into the cell core to explore the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), its structure, and how it stores the code of life. Furthermore, we will explore how to discover genetic variants and mutations and how to assess their impact on the cell functions and the whole human body. Ultimately, we will outline how individual genetic variants can be connected to complex diseases, such as cancer. Just two decades ago, all these tasks would have been impossible due to missing knowledge about the DNA and a lack of computational power. As a result, you will learn basic concepts about how to incorporate latest computer science aspects to explore the code of life interactively.

News: Pre-course reading materials as well as additional information about our projects focusing on digital health are available on our Analyze Genomes website.

Join openHPI's official Twitter Feed: @openHPI. Use the hashtag #codeoflife to join and contribute to social media conversations about this course.
Additional video lecturing material can be found at www.tele-task.de . Photo source: © Sergey Nivens / Fotolia

Course contents


  • Week 1: History of DNA and core components of cells:

    Back to school: let's test your current biology background. We will start with a concrete real-world use case from medicine to explain core components of human cells, their function, and how they interact.
  • Week 2: Processing and analyzing of genetic data:

    How to turn genetic raw data into meaningful information is the content of this week. Specific data processing steps are required prior to interpreting genetic data. In this week we will address specific algorithms, IT methods, and processes to assess genetic data. Furthermore, you will gain hands-on experience in analyzing selected genetic variants and evaluating their relevance.
  • Week 3: Online Q&A and final exams :

    In this week you will have the chance to discuss any open questions with the teaching team using our online tools. Furthermore, you will have to complete your final exams of the course in this week. We also encourage you to join our "I like, I wish" discussion providing your feedback of the course.
  • I like, I wish

How to enroll


If you would like to enroll for this course, there are no formal prerequisites or limitations. The course is free and open for everyone. Just register for an account on openHPI and go for the course!

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Dates and Statistics


This course was held from Nov 14, 2016 through Dec 05, 2016.

4612 learners enrolled.

Certificate Requirements


A record of achievement is issued to those who have earned more than 50% of the maximum number of points for the sum of all graded assignments. A confirmation of participation is issued to those who have completed at least 50% of the course material. Find out more in the certificate guidelines.

This course is offered by


Dr. Matthieu-P. Schapranow is Program Manager E-Health at the HPI, Visiting Scientist at the Mass. Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC) of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and at Charité – University Medicine in Berlin, Germany. He is a valued member of the Berlin Cancer Society contributing to the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM) and the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health. Dr. Schapranow holds a PhD as well as the MSc and BSc degrees in Software Engineering. He was honored with the Personalized Medicine Convention Award 2015, the European Life Science Award in 2014, and the Innovation Award of the German Capital Region in 2012. Together with Prof. Dr. Plattner, he published the textbook "High-Performance In-Memory Genome Data Analysis" in 2013.

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