Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (PhD)

Overview

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is home to more than thirty well-funded research groups, offering opportunities for research that is fundamental in advancing basic science and at the same time provides knowledge that is being translated to help tackle human diseases. The graduate programs in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology therefore provide advanced research-based education with the goal of preparing students for a career in academic, industrial or professional positions in British Columbia and beyond.

The Department offers MSc and PhD degree programs, with the option to transfer into the PhD track during the second year. Enrollment in the two programs combined has been steadlily increasing over the last 5 years from about 65 to 90 grads. The requirements for formal course credits are usually completed within the first two academic terms. Course topics include laboratory techniques, nucleic acids, membrane structure and function, cellular regulation, protein chemistry and molecular biology. Additional options include bioinformatics, genome analysis, cell growth and differentiation, bacterial pathogenesis and immuno-genetics. The balance of the program is research intensive and assessed by examination of a dissertation. All students are expected to give a research seminar in each year of their program. It is anticipated that each student will contribute to the successful completion of peer-reviewed publications and will present their work at national and international meetings.

What makes the program unique?

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has a rich history and on-going record of exceptional academic and research excellence. The Department was home to Nobel Laureate, Michael Smith and his legacy is sustained through involvement of a number of our professors with the Michael Smith Laboratories and the closely-associated Centre for High Throughput Biology. The majority of our research laboratories are located in the Life Sciences Institute, the largest multidisciplinary research hub at UBC. Key features of our research and graduate programs are that they are set up to enable top-notch work, with the very best facilities and with opportunities for collaboration with researchers from a range of disciplines. Research groups in the Life Sciences Institute include those with a focus on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, bacterial and viral diseases, chemical biology, blood research, molecular epigenetics and others. We encourage you to visit the Department website to check out the specific research interests and achievements of the professors in the Department. A number of our professors have developed and maintain major and cutting-edge equipment that underpins research using macromolecular crystallography, mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, high-throughput imaging and a range of spectroscopic techniques for macromolecular analysis.

The Department provides tuition benefits to more than half of all students and scholarships to assist with travel to meetings. The Department makes every effort to enable students to gain teaching experience through teaching assistantships, mostly to support teaching in undergraduate laboratory and lecture courses and for which further stipend support is achieved. Overall, the average support package for graduate students exceeds $27,000 per annum.

Quick Facts

Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Subject
Life Sciences
Mode of delivery
On campus
Registration options
Full-time
Specialization
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Program Components
Dissertation
Faculty
Faculty of Medicine

Program Enquiries

If you have reviewed the information on this program page and understand the requirements for this program, you may send an enquiry

Admission Information & Requirements

In order to apply to this program, the following components may be required.

Online Application

All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.

Transcripts

All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.

Minimum Academic Requirements

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:

Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitve process.

Letters of Reference

A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications. 

Statement of Interest

Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.

English Language Proficiency

Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.

Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:

106
27
29
27
24
7.5
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0

Supervision

Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Depending on program, applicants either reach out to faculty members directly or the program supports this process in different ways.

This program has not specified whether applicants should reach out to faculty members. Please review the program website for additional details.

Test Scores (GRE / GMAT or similar)

Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:

The GRE is required by some applicants. Please check the program website.

Citizenship Verification

Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.

Deadline Details

Application Deadline

Deadline to submit online application. No changes can be made to the application after submission.

Transcript Deadline

Deadline to upload scans of official transcripts through the applicant portal in support of a submitted application. Information for accessing the applicant portal will be provided after submitting an online application for admission.

Referee Deadline

Deadline for the referees identified in the application for admission to submit references. See Letters of Reference for more information.

January 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 March 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 May 2020
Transcript Deadline: 15 May 2020
Referee Deadline: 15 May 2020
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 May 2020
Transcript Deadline: 15 May 2020
Referee Deadline: 15 May 2020

Funding Sources

Applicants who are interested in nanomaterials synthesis, characterization and application, and nanoscience instrumentation may consider the NanoMat program that provides additional funding and professional development opportunities.

Successful applicants to this program will be provided with a funding package of at least $22,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships.

Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.

We encourage all applicants to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund your graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.

In addition to scholarships and awards, applicants may be eligible to apply for financial aid or other benefits in the form of loans, bursaries, tax credits, or similar.

Career Outcomes

66 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 2 are in non-salaried situations; for 6 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 58 graduates:


RI (Research-Intensive) Faculty: typically tenure-track faculty positions (equivalent of the North American Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor positions) in PhD-granting institutions
TI (Teaching-Intensive) Faculty: typically full-time faculty positions in colleges or in institutions not granting PhDs, and teaching faculty at PhD-granting institutions
Term Faculty: faculty in term appointments (e.g. sessional lecturers, visiting assistant professors, etc.)
Sample Employers in Higher Education
University of British Columbia (8)
Harvard University (2)
University of Toronto (2)
Oregon Health and Science University
University of Alberta
Washington University in St Louis
University of Ottawa
University of Washington
Southeast University
Johns Hopkins University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
BC Cancer Agency (2)
Centre for Drug Research and Development (2)
STEMCELL Technologies (2)
Samsung Bioepis
McGivney Global Advisors
Inception Sciences Canada
Arbutus Biopharma
Boreal Genomics
Renaissance BioScience
Criterion Bioscience Capital Advisory Group
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Research Scientist (3)
Postdoctoral Fellow (2)
Associate (2)
Senior Scientific Researcher
Consultant
Owner, designer
Group Scientific Director
Scientist
Physician
Head of Research
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
Disclaimer
These data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.
Career Options

During the past year we undertook a detailed survey of all graduates who completed their graduate programs in the period from 2003-2014. Of the total of 138 graduates, we have tracked the career progress of more than 120 so far.  Of this total, 35 have completed further training in graduate and postdoctoral positions, 20 have entered a professional program (mostly in Law or Medicine), 11 have progressed to a tenure-stream faculty position and 32 have full-time research positions in academia (8), industry (21) or government departments (3). Others have established careers in technical writing or management and the most recent cohort (13) are still at a very early stage of career development.  Although we need to continue to track and refine our understanding of career outcomes, it is very clear that our programs enable our graduates to achieve career success in a number of academic, professional and commercial areas.

Alumni on Success

Tuition / Program Costs

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$106.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,095.68$8,952.27
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$944.51 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $16,954.00 (check cost calculator)
* Regular, full-time tuition. For on-leave, extension, continuing or part time (if applicable) fees see UBC Calendar.
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Statistical Data

Enrolment Data

 20182017201620152014
Applications1520181914
Offers47211
New registrations44111
Total enrolment4850484036

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 84.62% based on 13 students admitted between 2006 - 2009. Based on 9 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 3.33 years and the maximum time is 6.33 years with an average of 4.96 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 22 March 2019]. Enrolment data are based on March 1 snapshots. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Rates and times of completion depend on a number of variables (e.g. curriculum requirements, student funding), some of which may have changed in recent years for some programs [data updated: 27 October 2019].

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Monday, 16 March 2020 - 4:00pm - Room 200

Nicolas Coutin
Method Development for High Throughput Biology

Research Supervisors

This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.

  • Bromme, Dieter Lysosomal proteases, centre for blood research
  • Brumer, Harry (Biological and Biochemical Mechanisms, Chemical Synthesis and Catalysis, Enzymes, polysaccharides, carbohydrates, biomass, cellulose, plant cell walls, microbiota)
  • Ciernia, Annie (Gene-Environment Interactions, Epigenetics, Brain development, Autism, Neurodevelopmental disorders)
  • Cullis, Pieter Molecular biology for therapeutic purposes, lipids, immunological drugs
  • Dedhar, Shoukat molecular biology, molecular biology as it relates to disease; developing new theraputics for cancer; how brain cells (neurons)make connections, therapeutics for cancer; molecular genetics and cancer; medical research, cancer, inflammatory diseases, cariovascular diseases, Cellular proteins, extracellular martrix, integrins, signal transduction, calreticulin, protein kinase, gene expression, cell differentiation
  • Devine, Dana Virginia Biochemistry, blood regulation, platelet biology
  • Duong, Franck Membrane protein, nanodiscs, ligand-receptor interactions, cell membranes, lipids, soluble proteins, porin, iron intake
  • Eltis, Lindsay (Microbiology, Enzymes and Proteins, Metabolism (Living Organisms), Bacterial catabolism of steroids and lignin, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, biocatalyst development)
  • Finlay, B Brett Infectious agents, bacteria, microbial infections and how humans react to it
  • Foster, Leonard (Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Biological and Biochemical Mechanisms, Microbiology, Cell Signaling and Infectious and Immune Diseases, Immune System, Agriculture, Proteomics, Honey bees, host-pathogen interactions, antigen presentation, Systems Biology)
  • Gsponer, Joerg Protein-DNA, protein-RNA and protein-protein interactions
  • Hieter, Philip Molecular biology of eukaryotic chromosome transmission
  • Howe, LeAnn (Gene regulation, Epigenetics, chromatin)
  • Jan, Eric (Virus, Nucleic Acids, Proteomics, Virology, Antiviral innate immunity, translation, Protein synthesis, RNA, RNA structure function, tRNA, ribosome, RNA virus, protease, molecular biology, picornavirus, Innate immunity)
  • Kastrup, Christian drug delivery, coagulation, biomaterials, atherosclerosis, in-vivo imaging, microfluidics
  • Kelleher, Dermot immune response to many of the leading causes of gastrointestinal infectious disease worldwide
  • Kim, Hugh platelet biochemistry
  • Kobor, Michael (Epigenetics, Social Epigenetics, molecular biology, Chromatin Biology)
  • Ling, Victor Resistance to anticancer drugs, glycoprotein, chemotherapy, proteins
  • Mayor, Thibault (Proteostasis, Protein Degradation, Protein Folding, Proteomics, Ubiquitin, Proteasome, Neurodegenerative diseases, Aging, Cell Biology, Yeast Genetics, Biochemistry)
  • McIntosh, Lawrence (Protein structure-dynamics-function, Regulation of gene expression, Signal transduction, Cancer, Enzyme mechanisms)
  • Measday, Vivien Chromosome segregation in the budding yeast using molecular biology and genomic tools
  • Molday, Robert Proteins, cell structure, lipids, drug discovery, gene therapy
  • Mui, Alice Inflammatory Signalling Pathways
  • Nislow, Corey genomics and develops biotechnology tools to address both fundamental and applied biological questions; Parallel genome-wide chemical genomic screens; High throughput cell-based screens; Next Generation Sequencing

Pages

Recent Doctoral Citations

  • Dr. Seyedeh Pargol Hashemi
    "Dr. Hashemi discovered five novel small molecules with the ability to reawaken the latent HIV-1 reservoirs without causing toxicity. As an HIV cure could be achieved through elimination of the viral latent reservoirs of infected cells, her research may provide a novel means to abolish the HIV-persistent infection in a patient's body." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Stephanie Tak Hei Cheung
    "Dr. Cheung studied the genome targeting mechanism of the Ty1 jumping gene element using budding yeast as a model organism. She discovered the cellular components that Ty1 hijacks. Due to the conservation between Ty1 and retroviruses such as HIV, her work will ultimately help with better design of anti-viral drugs or viral vectors for gene therapy." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Akil Moslim Hamza
    "Yeast is a single-celled organism that has been used to model human biology and disease. Dr. Hamza tested the extent to which human genes can replace the similar yeast genes and operate in a yeast cell. These humanized yeast cells were used as a platform to study mutations found in cancer and model the activity of a cancer specific drug target." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Simon Sau Yin Law
    "Osteoporosis is a disease marked by excessive bone loss and affects one out of three women and one out of five over the age of 50. Dr. Law studied a novel and less side effect prone type of enzyme inhibition which targets bone degradation. This has the potential to be developed into a novel type of anti resorptive drug." (May 2019)
  • Dr. Stefanie Kim Novakowski
    "Dr. Novakowski developed new tools for delivering proteins and nucleic acids to platelets, which are small cells required to stop the flow of blood during injury. This may ultimately lead to platelets with an improved ability to stop bleeding, and potentially extend the range of diseases that can be treated using platelets." (May 2019)
 
 

January 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 March 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 May 2020
International Applicant Deadline
01 May 2020
 

Supervisor Search

 

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