Computational Biology Winter Camp

LAU Beirut and Byblos Campuses

The Department of Natural Sciences is organizing a winter camp titled Navigating the Computational Frontier: A Three-Step Journey into Ubuntu, Nanopore Sequencing and Big Data Analysis, coordinated by Assistant Professor of Microbiology Charbel Al Khoury and Professor of Biology Sima Tokajian.

Kindly note that seats are limited to 25 LAU students.


The LAU Computational Biology Winter Camp promises to be a transformative experience that aims to equip participants with the tools to bridge biology and computation, open-source systems, sequencing technologies and advanced data analysis. Divided into three steps, the winter camp will delve into navigating Ubuntu and command line essentials, unlocking the power to manipulate files and install software, introducing the cutting-edge world of theory and hands-on nanopore sequencing and applying acquired skills to analyze big data, assemble genomes and generate phylogenetic trees.


Computational biology is a cutting-edge field that combines computational techniques with biological studies, revolutionizing scientific research. By employing sophisticated algorithms and statistical models, researchers can rapidly analyze vast biological data, predict phenomena, and design innovative experiments. This interdisciplinary approach is instrumental in enhancing our understanding of genetic diseases, facilitating drug discovery, and advancing personalized medicine. In the genomic era, where researchers study the structure, function, and variations in the DNA of various organisms, including humans, computational biology becomes increasingly vital, as it provides a transformative lens to interpret and apply biological information for the benefit of science and society.

Step One: Navigating Ubuntu and Command Line Mastery (2 days)


  • Day 1: Thursday, January 11, 10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
  • Day 2: Friday, January 12, 10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

Location: Sage Hall – Room 309 – Beirut campus (transportation across both campuses will be provided)

In the initial phase of the LAU Computational Biology Winter Camp, participants will undergo a crash course on Ubuntu, which is an influential open-source operating system. The focus will be on understanding Ubuntu’s structure, exploring its file systems, processes, and user permissions.

Emphasis will be placed on the command line interface, a vital tool for computational biologists, where students will learn fundamental Bash commands for efficient task execution and data handling. This foundational step prepares participants for hands-on computational skills required in later stages of the winter camp.

Step Two: Unveiling Nanopore Sequencing (1 day)

Schedule: Tuesday, January 16, 12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.

Location: Webex link:

In Step Two, participants will delve into the theoretical foundations of nanopore sequencing, a groundbreaking technology in computational biology. The session will explore the pivotal role of nanopore sequencing in revolutionizing genetic material sequencing, after which the students will engage in a hands-on practical session covering sample preparation to data analysis.

By operating a cutting-edge sequencing platform, students will gain theoretical insights and practical skills and become proficient in applying nanopore sequencing for comprehensive genomic analysis by the end of this step.

Step Three: Mastering Big Data Analysis (1 day)

Schedule: For the ultimate experience, participants will be divided into two groups.

  • Group One will attend on Thursday, January 18, 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
  • Group Two will attend on Tuesday, January 23, 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.

Location: Microbial Genomics Lab (Science Building – Room 306)  Byblos campus (transportation across both campuses will be provided)

Building on previous steps, Step Three will focus on applying foundational skills to handle big data in computational biology. Participants will use Ubuntu and command line expertise developed in Step One to analyze vast datasets from nanopore sequencing in Step Two. Activities include advanced tasks like genome assembly, genomic structure annotation, phylogenetic tree generation and mutation monitoring.

By using advanced bioinformatics tools, students will gain practical proficiency in extracting meaningful insights, ensuring both theoretical understanding and real-world application. In light of this, Step Three marks the culmination of the winter camp, empowering students to address challenges at the intersection of computational biology and big data analysis.