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 84 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
Mode of delivery
On campus
Registration options
Full-time
Specialization
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Program Components
Dissertation

Requirements

TOEFL (ibT) Overall Score Requirement

106
27
29
27
24

IELTS Overall Score Requirement

7.5
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0

GRE required?

Required by some applicants (check program website)

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 2020 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2019
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 June 2019
Transcript Deadline: 30 June 2019
Referee Deadline: 30 June 2019
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 June 2019
Transcript Deadline: 30 June 2019
Referee Deadline: 30 June 2019

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.

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$104.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,665.26$2,925.58
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$4,995.78$8,776.74
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$930.14 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $16,884.10 (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 90.91% based on 11 students admitted between 2005 - 2008. Based on 13 graduations between 2014 - 2017 the minimum time to completion is 3.33 years and the maximum time is 6.33 years with an average of 5.00 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: 23 September 2018].

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)
  • 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, Virus, 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)
  • Overall, Christopher Mark (Blood research, antiviral immunity)

Pages

Recent Doctoral Citations

  • Dr. Jayesh Kulkarni
    "Dr. Kulkarni studied nanoparticles to enable gene therapies for the treatment of liver diseases. Through his research, he overturned the existing paradigm of the structure of these nanoparticles; proposed a novel structure; and re-engineered the nanoparticles for diagnostics and gene therapy applications." (November 2018)
  • Dr. Vivienne Wai Tung Chan
    "Dr. Chan worked on developing ways to enhance the natural function of platelets by loading them with potential drugs, such as clotting factors. These modified platelets may improve the effectiveness of platelet transfusions during uncontrolled bleeding, and platelets loaded with other drugs may also be useful in treating diseases such as cancer." (November 2018)
  • Dr. Siobhan Meagan Wong King Yuen
    "Dr. Wong King Yuen muscled in on the calcium channels, which play a crucial role in skeletal and cardiac muscle contraction. Her research characterized a novel interaction between an adaptor protein and the voltage-gated calcium channel. This work furthers our understanding of how an electrical action potential is converted into muscle contraction." (November 2018)
  • Dr. Michael Luke Carlson
    "Dr. Carlson developed a simple, scalable method for the rapid stabilization of membrane proteins called the peptidisc. He used the technique to rapidly identify novel and known interactions between membrane proteins in the bacterial cell envelope." (November 2018)
  • Dr. Shawn Tamajka Whitfield
    "Dr. Whitfield studied the machinery that drives the formation of clathrin-coated vesicles, the 'transport vans' of the cell. He identified several new components of this machinery, helping us to understand a fundamental cellular trafficking process implicated in a range of neurological and inflammatory diseases." (November 2018)
 
 

January 2020 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2019
Canadian Applicant Deadline
30 June 2019
International Applicant Deadline
30 June 2019
 

Supervisor Search

 

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