In accordance with Project goals and plan 6 Project members, professors from Faculty of Science, visited Oxford University, United Kingdom. Visit lasted from October 20, 2019. to October 24, 2019. During the visit focus was on 3 institutions which conduct research and teaching in the field of mathematical biology:
– Wolfson Centre for Mathematical Biology
– Big Data Institute
– Department of Statistic.
Project members who visited Oxford are all in the Project management and/or members of Work Groups and they all are employees of Department of Mathematics of Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb:
– professor Aleksandra Čižmešija (Dean of the Faculty of Science and Curriculum development coordinator for the Project)
– professor Igor Pažanin (Head of Department of Mathematics and Deputy Project manager, member of Curriculum Work Group)
– professor Željka Milin Šipuš (Head of Feasibility study group for the Project, member of both Work Groups)
– professor Miljenko Huzak (one of the leading mathematical statistics experts in Croatia, member of both Work Groups)
– professor Josip Tambača (one of the leading biomedical mathematics experts in Croatia, member of Curriculum Work Group)
– professor Hrvoje Šikić (Project manager and one of the leading probability theory experts in Croatia, member of both Work Groups).
Goal of the visit was to get insight into curriculum and organization of studies in the field of biomedical mathematics and supporting research activities. University of Oxford is one of the leading centres for mathematics and natural sciences in the world ,according to ARWU and Leiden rank lists.
Our hosts in Oxford who coordinated visit and activities were:
– professor Philip Maini, Director of Wolfson Centre for Mathematical Biology, one of the leading world experts in mathematical biology, Fellow of the Royal Society, cited over 20 000 times, published over 400 research papers, author of many seminal research papers published in top science journals such as ”Nature”
– professor Helen Byrne, winner of the 2019. Leah Edelstein-Keshet Prize awarded by Society for Mathematical Biology, cited over 11 000 times with h-index of 56
– professor Endre Suli, Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences, winner of several international awards, cited over 10 000 times with h-index of 52.
Academic year in Oxford University is divided into 3 trimesters and it’s based on cooperation between university departments and/or institutes on one side and one of 29 colleges on the other side. Professor Suli explained that type of cooperation and correlation between institutions and gave Project members tour of one of the colleges. Principles that can be beneficial in development of our new study programme are:
– openness to students from all over the world
– very thorough selection process (University of Oxford is brand of excellence and number of applications exceed enrollment quota by multiple times) and excellent student performance as result
– classic type of lectures is supplemented by tutorials (each tutor works with generally 2 students), seminars and lab work
– commitment to studying, continuous individual work and group work on projects is expected from each student
– implementation of case studies type of teaching.
Big Data Institute is interdisciplinary research centre dedicated to analysis of large, complex databases in order to get better understanding of diseases and disease control. Institutes modern building is located near the hospital. It is a workplace for 250 scientists divided into 20 subgroups, each for different field of research. Big Data Institute also conducts its own study programme. Project members and their hosts in Big Data Institute will stay in touch and will exchange teaching materials and experiences.
From its beginnings Department of Statistics is in close relation to fields of mathematical genetics and bioinformatics. It has been ranked as most significant centre of that fields of science in the world several times. That is of great importance to creation of our new study programme and Project members have been exchanging experiences and practises with their hosts in the Department of Statistics.
Our initiative to create new study programme in biomedical mathematics has been appreciated by our Oxford colleagues and they think it is good time to start that kind of programme in Croatia and this part of Europe. Faculty of Science in Zagreb and University of Oxford will stay in good relations and will continue to exchange experiences and materials in order to provide best possible education and research possibilities for students all over the world.