Python for Life Scientists

Date 4 - 5 July 2017
Speaker(s) Geoffrey Fucile, Walid Gharib
Fees *academic: 100 CHF   -   for-profit: 0 CHF
Cancellation deadline 30 Jun 2017
City Bern
*academic fee includes non for-profit organisations as well as unemployed participants at the time of application.

This course is over-subscribed with a waiting list, so registration is currently closed. Stay tuned for another iteration taking place later this year in Zürich.

Why Python?

Python is an open-source and general-purpose scripting language which runs on all major operating systems. It was designed to be easily read and written with comparatively simple syntax, and is thus a good choice for beginners in programming. Python is applied in many disciplines and is one of the most common languages for bioinformatics. The Python community enthusiastically maintains a rich collection of libraries/modules for everything from web development to machine learning. Other programming languages such as R have comparable functionality to Python, however some tasks are more natural (and easier!) in Python.

Topics covered include, among others:

  • A gentle intro to Python scripting and computing in general
  • Creating, populating, and modifying data structures
  • Working with files
  • Importing libraries/modules
  • Intro to Regular expressions
  • Functional and Object-Oriented Programming in Python
  • Best practices in Python programming
  • Debugging and Documentation

Learning objectives

This "First Steps with Python" course is addressed to beginners who want to become familiar with writing Python code to accomplish common tasks such as automated data parsing. Have you ever been stuck with a file format that doesn't precisely conform to your needs, found yourself doing annoyingly repetitive data manipulations, or struggled to efficiently manage and explore calculations of your data? Python to the rescue!

Participants will learn the basic concepts and data structures necessary to solve routine data manipulation tasks. Importantly, we will cover the concepts, terminology, and approach to documentation required to further develop skills in Python programming independently. The goal is towards taking independent control of your research questions. By the end of this course you will be prepared to learn more advanced bioinformatics-specific applications, which will be emphasized in forthcoming courses.


This course is designed for beginners and there is no requirement for previous training in Python. However, we encourage completion of our "First Steps with UNIX" course.

You are required to bring your own laptop. We will be working with Python managed by Anaconda - a free and operating system (OS)-agnostic platform for organizing Python libraries and environments. It is bundled with Anaconda Navigator, a graphical user interface which will help ease you into what Python makes possible. We will discuss in detail what all of this precisely means during the course. In preparation, all you have to do is download and install Anaconda for your particular OS. Use the most recent version of Python, which is currently 3.6.

If your disk space is limited, you can install Miniconda instead. However this lacks the Anaconda Navigator GUI and many of the packages distributed with Anaconda.


The registration fees for academics are 100 CHF. This includes course content material and coffee breaks. Participants from non-academic institutions should contact us before application.

Deadline for registration and free-of-charge cancellation is set is set to 26 June 2017. Cancellation after this date will not be reimbursed. Please note that participation to SIB courses is subject to our general conditions, available at

You will be informed by email of your registration confirmation.


Universität Bern, Hochschulstrasse 4, Raum: Nr. 331 / 3. OG West

Additional information

Coordination: Geoffrey Fucile

We will recommend 0.5 ECTS credits for this course (given a passed exam at the end of the session).

You are welcome to register to the SIB courses mailing-list to be informed of all future courses and workshops, as well as all important deadlines using the form here.

For more information, please contact