Computational molecular evolution

General information


The need for effective and informed analysis of biological sequence data is increasing with the explosive growth of biological sequence databases. A molecular evolutionary framework is central to many Bioinformatics approaches used in these analyses. Additionally, explicit use of molecular evolutionary and phylogenetic analyses provide important insights in their own right, e.g., analysis of adaptive evolution in viruses providing clues of their interaction with host immune systems.

To this end, we aim to provide graduate and postgraduate researchers with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills to carry out molecular evolutionary analyses on sequence data. The course will entail data retrieval and assembly, alignment techniques, phylogeny reconstruction, hypothesis testing, and population genetic approaches. The course will cover sessions on analysis of both protein and nucleotide sequences, including NGS data. However, we do not cover traditional NGS analyses (e.g., QC, read mapping, variant calling, assembly etc.) .

Also, the EMBO Practical Course will offer a unique opportunity for direct interaction with some of the world-leading scientists and authors of famous analysis tools (Tanja Stadler, Nick Goldman, Bruce Rannala, Alexandros Stamatakis, Benjamin Redelings, Ziheng Yang, etc.) in evolutionary Bioinformatics.

Note that the last three courses in Crete were heavily over-subscribed. The expected participant acceptance rate is below 20%. Experience from previous years has led to preference being given to candidates who:

  • are doctoral candidates in the early to middle stages of their thesis research
  • already have some familiarity (i.e. have already used some of the relevant tools) with phylogenetic methods
  • have already collected/assembled a molecular sequence dataset to analyze in their work
  • have experience working in a Unix/Linux command-line environment

We will also select a small fraction of participants that already work in Bioinformatics labs, to intensify collaboration between early career stage Biologists and Bioinformaticians. Applicants from labs with a strong focus on computational molecular evolution methodology need to carefully outline their motivation for attending the course in this context, since they have ready access to expert supervision and are likely to be very skilled already in the topics we teach, or are in the course of becoming very skilled therein.

Contact Person: (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0511 - Biology", "0512 - Biotechnology", "0588 - Scientific modelling", "0688 - Bioinformatics


Venue: Ιnstitute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research
Heraklion, Greece


Open from
16 Aug 2017 to 20 Nov 2017


Registration Fees


Registration fees include:

  • Non-local students: breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodation
  • Local students from Crete only: lunch only

Please note that ALL trainees are required to:

  • present a poster during the course
  • be already familiar with using the Linux operating system prior to attending the course or, if not familiar, invest a substantial amount of time prior to the course in getting familiar with Linux (we can provide some help, i.e. a Linux installation on a CD, for those of you with access only to a Windows machine)

We strongly discourage applications of more than one student from the same lab.

To apply, students must upload a 2-page CV, a motivation letter, and a reference letter by their advisor.

Application Procedure:

PAYMENT DEADLINE: 31 January 2018

Grant Opportunities:


A limited number of travel grants are available for eligible participants. Applicants do not need to apply separately for travel grants for this event but should indicate on the registration form if they wish to be considered for a travel grant. Selection of awardees is handled directly by the organizer who will notify all eligible participants. More information is available at EMBO Travel Grants' page.


A limited number of non-local participants will be granted registration fee waivers.

In addition, one local and one non-local participant will receive a Margarita Metallinou fee waiver award.

Margarita Metallinou was a very talented and promising young evolutionary biologist with a passion for reptiles and taxonomy. She completed her PhD on the evolution of desert Geckos at the University of Barcelona and the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in 2014. Thereafter, she immediately started a postdoc at Villanova University in the US. Margarita was a participant at the first CoME course in Crete that took place in 2010. She was a brilliant and enthusiastic student, who captivated instructors and fellow participants with her thoughtful questions, her eagerness to learn, and her great spirit. She greatly enjoyed this course and it had an important impact on her subsequent career, both from a personal as well as scientific perspective. During her short but intense career, she inspired many students around the world with her dedication and passion for science, her tenacity, her boundless energy, her ability to help everyone around her, and her determination to enjoy life and follow her dreams. Her tragic end touched the entire scientific community and, in particular, the organizers, instructors, and former participants of this course.

This award is in memory of Margarita, who passed away in July 2015 while doing fieldwork in Zambia. Via this award we hope to transmit Margarita’s passion for research to future generations of students and to preserve her memory.

Applicants do not require to apply for these awards separately, selection of awardees will be handled directly by the organizers. Awardees will be informed directly.


Academic level: PhD
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