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New Bachelor’s Programme in Cellular and Molecular Biotechnology

© Signature Collection/ iStock

The new Faculty of Biology and Biotechnologies has opened at HSE and will begin accepting applications to the Cellular and Molecular Biotechnologies Bachelor’s Programme this year. Here we explain what students will study at the new faculty as well as its relationship with the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and the business community.

How economics and biology are connected

Although the biological sciences have traditionally been strong in Russia’s educational and academic research institutions, that scholarship had only a weak connection with the larger economy and industry. This has become particularly noticeable in recent decades, when molecular and cellular biology, bioinformatics, and pharmacology became important parts of the industry and drivers of economic growth. It is this gap between biological R&D and its real-world application that the new NSE Faculty of Biology and Biotechnologies seeks to bridge.

How the new faculty interacts with the RAS

The Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry (IBCh) of the RAS will provide the fundamental biological training, preparation of educational programmes, and teaching materials for the new faculty, and will also conduct classes. In addition, leading IBCh specialists will actively involve HSE students in scientific research in their laboratories.

The Cellular and Molecular Biotechnologies Bachelor’s Programme will be taught at two different sites. Theoretical training will be split between the IBCh and HSE, while all hands-on classes will be conducted at the IBCh labs.

What students will study

The first two years cover blocks of such basic disciplines as mathematics and physics (including biophysics), chemistry (organic, inorganic, analytical, and biochemistry), and biology. The biology block includes such subjects as immunology, bioinformatics, bioengineering of microorganisms, macromolecular research methodologies, genetics, etc.

A block of senior electives will enable upperclassmen to tailor their course of study. The electives fall into two categories: biotechnologies, and cellular and molecular biology.


  • Medical
  • Industrial
  • Agricultural biotechnology
  • Cellular and genetic engineering

Cellular and molecular biology

  • Virology
  • Molecular oncology
  • Gerontology
  • Genomics
  • Enzymology 
  • Immunology and others

Who will teach at the faculty

Specialists in the fields of cellular and molecular biology, microfluidic systems, bioengineering, and biotechnology will provide instruction at the faculty.

Classes in the Cellular and Molecular Biotechnologies Programme will be conducted by:

Alexander Tonevitsky

Dean, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnologies at HSE, corresponding member of the RAS

Alexander Gabibov

Director, IBCh RAS; academician of RAS

Olga Dontsova

Head, Department of RNA Structure and Functions, Research Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, MSU; academician of the RAS

Instructors will also include leading staff members of the IBCh RAS and the Moscow State University Chemistry Faculty’s Department of Chemistry of Natural Compounds and Enzymology.

Because a significant part of the curriculum is interdisciplinary, teachers from such HSE faculties as mathematics, computer science, physics, and chemistry will also work with the biology students. Agreements for joint minors have already been reached with the HSE Faculty of Law and Faculty of Humanities.

Leading young researchers from European and U.S. universities will also be invited to the faculty, and their more experienced colleagues with weightier scientific achievements will visit HSE to conduct lectures and workshops.

What type of research the faculty will carry out

It is already possible to identify the main lines of research in which staff will involve students. These include, but are not limited to:

 development of microfluidic systems;

development of new bioimaging systems;

development of devices for the joint cultivation of several tissues, as well as biological test

systems for simulating the functioning of human organs and tissues;

study of the profiles of micro RNA and other biomarker molecules;

development of potential medicinal compounds;

production of cells with altered properties;

systems biology of organisms of industrial importance.

Where graduates can find employment

An education in biotechnology is impossible without close links to the industrial sector, particularly with commercial enterprises that make real-world applications of the results of biological research. The Faculty has preliminary agreements on cooperation with such firms. On one hand, students will gain practical experience in relevant companies and, on the other, specialists from those companies will deliver lectures and conduct workshops at HSE. In the future, it will be possible to conduct joint research in commercially promising areas.

The industrial sector – that includes pharmaceutical companies – is one of the most promising areas of employment for the faculty’s graduates.

Alexander Tonevitsky

Dean, Faculty of Biology and Biotechnologies at HSE, corresponding member of the RAS

«Biotech companies setting up production in Russia often hire specialists from European countries due to a shortage of qualified Russians. This situation should change as our graduates enter the workforce ».

In addition, programme graduates will have the option of continuing their studies at IBCh RAS and other academic institutions, teaching at universities, or continuing their studies and academic careers at foreign universities.

Icons: flaticon.com/ Freepik

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People have already submitted their applications to Master’s and Bachelor’s programmes at HSE University. So far, students from 113 countries have expressed their interest in studying at HSE University. For the 2019/2020 academic year, HSE University is offering 10 Bachelor’s programmes and 31 Master’s programmes taught entirely in English. The strongest applicants will be eligible for full or partial scholarships. For Master’s programmes, applications will be evaluated on the strength of the portfolios that can be submitted online via an applicant’s personal account on HSE University’s website.