Interdisciplinarity as a new pedagogic approach
towards a Master Degree
The term "interdisciplinary research" suggests a synthetic, integrative approach where scientists from different backgrounds formulate and address jointly a common problem. Interdisciplinary training is increasingly valued in our world where flexibility, cooperative problem-solving and communication with different mindsets are essential.
Key features of the AIV Master program
Students of this program are dedicated to continue a scientific research career, and therefore the teaching is often organized in the form of seminars rather than formal class lectures.
The 1st year Master (AIV M1) starts with the refresher weeks which aim at reducing the gap between the various backgrounds of the students, and thus raising their knowledge to a common level needed to follow the courses. The AIV M1 courses give the students a solid background in quantitative biology through fundamental approaches such as mathematics, physics and computer science, as well as emerging fields such as systems and synthetic biology. The students also become familiar with statistical and modeling analysis tools, and with highly sophisticated technologies (nano-fabrication, fluorescence microscopy, micro-fluidics, molecular forces measurements, etc.) allowing the characterization of the molecular mechanisms underlying biological phenomena. The AIV M1 training is concluded by a long internship (5 months). Students wishing to acquire or strengthen a specific knowledge can participate in external modules organized in the Paris region in exchange with one of the AIV courses.
The 2nd year Master (M2) consists in two alternative tracks :
- the AIV M2 track
- or the "Systems and Synthetic Biology, Information and Interactions" (S2I2) M2 track.
Both tracks are launched every year with a project writing workshop.
In the AIV M2 program, weekly meetings are held on Friday afternoons, axed around three trimester courses dealing with the analysis of scientific writings (articles, reviews and books). In parallel, students participate in three trimester internships (the laboratories can be chosen from any university or institution in the Paris area yet at least one experimental and one theoretical interdisciplinary project are required).
In the S2I2 M2 program, which is shared with the new Paris Descartes-ParisTech Biomedical Engineering Master (BEM) program, students participate in three 14-weeks internship rotations (at least one experimental and one theoretical), including one that should be carried out within the private research sector. In parallel, they choose between "Systems and Synthetic Biology" and "Web Science Interface" orientations, and follow 3 courses (to be validated by the Master's teachers).
Other activities offered to the AIV students
- Special seminars : AIV students are encouraged to invite speakers from France and abroad for informal seminars. The visiting professors discuss their work within the context of their field and spend time with the students to discuss their projects and future plans.
- The CRI discussion clubs: AIV students participate and create small thematic discussion clubs related to their topics of interest. With the help of specialists, they meet around a recent or a fundamental publication or discuss with scientists working in the domain.
- FdV graduate school - Lilliane Bettencourt program's courses: These courses are open and optional for the AIV students; we strongly recommend that you follow at least one course to strengthen and deepen your understanding in your selected interface with Life Sciences. The possibility to exchange an internship with FdV courses can be discussed with the Master's teachers.
The intellectual richness offered by such a wide range of scientific backgrounds, and the ability to launch new projects brought us to create the CRI (Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity) in order to maintain productive scientific interactions.
Courses of the AIV Master program take place at the CRI, which also host the Frontiers in Life Science (FdV) PhD program. Students have access to a fully renovated seminar room, meeting room, library, computer room and wet-lab space, and can benefit from sharing these facilities with students from the FdV PhD program as well as with internationally renowned invited professors (e.g. Rob Phillips from Caltech in 2009 and Andrew Murray from Harvard University in 2010).
The S2I2 M2 program is a joint track with the newly formed Biomedical Engineering Master (BEM) program. Students of the S2I2 M2 track will thus benefit not only from the rich interactions within the AIV and the CRI but also from the richness of our partner program from which additional courses may be chosen.