Life Sciences Engineering

The study of life ranks among the fields which have benefitted the most from the rapid technological advances of these past few years. It is a difficult task to try to identify one single discipline which is responsible for the progress which can be seen. In fact, it is the combination of various factors, in theory treated as independent of each other, which is the root cause. A result of the application of discoveries in physics, the improvement of quantitative-observation techniques has led to a sizeable increase in the volume of available information

As well as this expansion, the nature of the latter has become such that it would be impossible to think about analyzing it without automated processing

This involves the development of mathematical algorithms and increasing the power of computers, all made possible by miniaturized electronic components manufactured with more specialized materials. This miniaturization has, moreover, encouraged the development of more efficient sensors. The study and understanding of life must therefore take place these days through accurate observations, meaning that technology has to be known and controlled. The necessary coming together of two worlds that were hitherto separate has resulted in our life sciences engineering bachelor program.

The training provided at EPFL stands at the interface between life sciences and engineering disciplines. It is evolving towards a quantitative approach to biological phenomena: we are no longer satisfied with observing them but we also want to measure them. This method involves an increasing use of computer modeling: thanks to the simulation of the behavior of an ever-growing number of living organisms, it is possible to speed up discovery processes. The number of some experiments, often costly and lengthy, is therefore decreasing. This approach is reflected in the field of life sciences through decoding the human genome, a better understanding of complex biological systems, regenerative medicine (reactivation of cellular or tissue functions) or gene therapy (attempts to correct genetic errors causing major diseases). Recent advances give some exciting prospects to life sciences.

Program presentation

BSc (180 ECTS credits) The training strongly emphasizes mathematics and physics, since these two subjects account for almost half of the classes taken during the 1st and 2nd years. Computer science also has a prominent place. Then there are classes in molecular and cellular biology as well as chemistry. During the 3rd year, the curriculum offers two units: one in “Engineering” (with classes in electronics, for example), the other in “Biosciences” in which a deeper knowledge is gained of subjects such as systems physiology. You can also choose options like genetics, developmental biology, as well as artificial intelligence or structural mechanics

Simplified study plan

Prospects: MSc Programs

This Master program newly offered in 2018-19 results from the fusion of the two previous Master programs in Bioengineering and Life Sciences and Technology. All courses remain available, although engineering core courses have been reinforced

This master program focuses on the research and development of technologies applied to life sciences. It covers disciplines such as mechanics of biological systems; bioelectronics and biosensing; bioimaging and biophotonics; signal processing and data analysis; bioinformatics and biostatistics as well as important aspects of current biomedical research and applied engineering technologies for fields such as Molecular Medicine, Tissue Engineering, Oncology, Immunology, Neuroprosthetics, Neurosciences, Brain-Machine Interface and Biocomputational Sciences.
The master cycle is completed by a master research project in a laboratory in an academic environment or in industry. This can be done at EPFL or in other high-ranking universities around the world.

Other programs will be open to you after graduating with the BSc degree, in particular some interdisciplinary MSc programs.
More information on master’s study programs.

Please note that the information regarding the programs’ structure as well as the simplified study plan may be subject to change and that these are no legally binding. Only the official regulations and study plans are binding.

Career Prospects

Following the BSc degree, the MSc degree in Life Sciences Engineering is designed to equip you with multidisciplinary skills to enable you to easily enter emerging fields within life sciences such as regenerative medicine, biomaterials, biological delivery, new diagnostic technology and many more. It also opens exciting and very varied career prospects up to you.. Your employers will be within the pharmaceutical industries, companies specializing in medical technology or biotechnology. You also have the possibility of joining hospitals or different analytical laboratories where you can offer your skills in management and implementing technical infrastructures.

With your expertise, you can also think about an advisory role regarding investments and portfolio management in the field of biomedical innovation, biotechnology, or pharmacology. Many graduates complete their training by doing a PhD, at EPFL or at another university.

Such a choice offers interesting prospects for a research career in a specialized college or within a company, but it will also enable you to set up your own company for commercializing the results of your discoveries yourself!

Alumni testimonies

Claire Roulin

I work for a company that provides equipement for the production of biological drugs, such as filters, fermenters or scales.

Claire Roulin, Bachelor and Master degrees in Life Sciences and Technology (2010)

I give technical support to the sales teams for our purification products, mostly for those made to eliminate viruses. I visit the clients to help them use our products, test them or solve any technical problem.

My job is a good balance between science and marketing. Every project starts with a technical meeting with the client. If we convince him, we then organize small-scale tests in his laboratory. For example, the client might want to integrate a virus removal filter in his process. If these tests are successfull, we organize scale-up studies, before eventually validating the process. In the case of this virus filter, I need to go to a specialized lab, to test it with the client’s product and «real» viruses. As a project can take many years, I’m always working on something like thirty projects at the same time!

I already did my Master’s thesis in the company I’m currently working for, in the R&D department. Then I did a marketing internship in the same company. Thanks to these 2 years in the headquarters in Germany, I could create a good network. I also met my colleagues and realized that this was my dream job! And then, I’ve been lucky… My boss agreed to create a new position for me in Switzerland. For me, the transition between my studies and the job market has been easy. If I had an advice to give when you are interested in a position, it’s to ask for it! The people around you might not be aware of your interest.

I travel a lot in Europe for my job, mostly in Switzerland, in Italy and in the Netherlands. I love working with such different clients, either in their origins, in the type of projects they work on (monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, gene therapy, etc) or in their size (multinational like Novartis, Baxter or Lonza, to SME or start-ups). But it’s not easy every day! Travelling all the time is tiring, as well as eating outside and sleeping at hotels. It also affects your private life. But this variety also makes every project unique and interesting!


Looking for further details about this program?Please check its specific webpages or use the contacts below:

[email protected]

41 (0)21 693 96 01