Canadian Immigration Updates

Applicants to Master’s and Doctoral degrees are not affected by the recently announced cap on study permits. Review more details

Overview

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program provides advanced, research-based education that will prepare students for a career in academic, industrial, or professional positions in British Columbia and beyond.  The Program offers MSc and PhD degrees, with the option to transfer from the MSc into the PhD track during the second year. The bulk of the program is research-intensive and assessed by examination of a dissertation, although students starting in the MSc program are required to take six formal course credits, which are usually completed within the first two academic terms.  Course topics include protein structure and function, gene regulation, epigenetics, membrane structure and function, cellular regulation, and bioinformatics.  Students also present a departmental research seminar in each year of their program, contribute to peer-reviewed publications, and present their work at local, national, or international meetings.

What makes the program unique?

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is home to more than thirty, highly funded, well-equipped, research groups, that seek to understand the molecular basis of multiples diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, retinal degenerative diseases, bacterial and viral infections, including COVID-19.  The Department has a rich history and on-going record of exceptional academic and research excellence. The Department was home to Nobel Laureate, Michael Smith, and current members hold research chairs, Killam awards and are members of the Royal Society of Canada.  While the majority of our research laboratories are located in the Life Sciences Institute and Michael Smith Laboratories on the Point Grey Campus, member labs are also found in the BC Cancer Research Centre, the Centre for Brain Health, the Centre for Blood Research, and the Child and Family Health Research Institute.  Thus, our program offers trainees a broad range of research topics, world-class mentorship, and diverse training environments.  We encourage you to visit the Department website to check out the specific research interests and achievements of the professors in the Department.

 

Program Enquiries

Still have questions after reviewing this page thoroughly?
Contact the program

Admission Information & Requirements

1) Check Eligibility

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. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.

English Language Test

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:

TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based

Overall score requirement: 106

Reading

27

Writing

29

Speaking

24

Listening

27

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.5

Reading

7.0

Writing

7.0

Speaking

7.0

Listening

7.0

Other Test Scores

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.

2) Meet Deadlines

Application open dates and deadlines for an upcoming intake have not yet been configured in the admissions system. Please check back later.

3) Prepare Application

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.

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.

Supervision

Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their thesis supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding thesis supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (PhD)
Applicants should browse faculty profiles and indicate in their application who they are interested in working with. No commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary, but contacting faculty members is encouraged.

Citizenship Verification

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

4) Apply Online

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

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$114.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,838.57$3,230.06
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,515.71$9,690.18
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,116.60 (approx.)
Costs of livingEstimate your costs of living with our interactive tool in order to start developing a financial plan for your graduate studies.
* 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.

Financial Support

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.

Program Funding Packages

Successful applicants to this program will be provided with a base funding package of at least $25,000 for each of the first two years of an MSc or four years of a PhD program. Students awarded major (i.e. greater than $15,000 per year), merit-based (for example: NSERC/CIHR CGSM, NSERC PGSD, or UBC Four-Year Fellowships) awards will receive a minimum of $28,000 per year financial support.  PhD students, except those who have their tuition paid by an external sponsor, will additionally receive the Presidents Academic Excellence Initiative PhD Award, PAEIPA.  Additionally, with the exception of Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship or Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship recipients, tuition for the first four years of a PhD will be covered by either UBC or a BMB Graduate Tuition Award. These minimum support packages can be further supplemented by TAships, and overall, the average support package for graduate students exceeds $30,000 per annum.     

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 40 students within this program were included in this study because they received funding through UBC in the form of teaching, research, academic assistantships or internal or external awards averaging $39,163.
  • 17 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 17 students was $3,962.
  • 39 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 39 students was $21,614.
  • 9 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 9 students was $473.
  • 40 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 40 students was $11,183.
  • 12 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 12 students was $17,052.

Study Period: Sep 2022 to Aug 2023 - average funding for full-time PhD students enrolled in three terms per academic year in this program across years 1-4, the period covered by UBC's Minimum Funding Guarantee. Averages might mask variability in sources and amounts of funding received by individual students. Beyond year 4, funding packages become even more individualized.
Review methodology
Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)

All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their 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.

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA)

Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their supervision. The duties constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is considered a form of fellowship for a period of graduate study and is therefore not covered by a collective agreement. Stipends vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA)

Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.

Graduate Academic Assistantships (GAA)

Academic Assistantships are employment opportunities to perform work that is relevant to the university or to an individual faculty member, but not to support the student’s graduate research and thesis. Wages are considered regular earnings and when paid monthly, include vacation pay.

Financial aid (need-based funding)

Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.

All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.

Foreign government scholarships

Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.

Working while studying

The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.

International students enrolled as full-time students with a valid study permit can work on campus for unlimited hours and work off-campus for no more than 20 hours a week.

A good starting point to explore student jobs is the UBC Work Learn program or a Co-Op placement.

Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals

Students with taxable income in Canada may be able to claim federal or provincial tax credits.

Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.

Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.

Cost Estimator

Applicants have access to the cost estimator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.

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.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (PhD). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.

ENROLMENT DATA

 20232022202120202019
Applications1421261522
Offers16713
New Registrations03613
Total Enrolment5250444550

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 90% based on 31 students admitted between 2011 - 2014. Based on 28 graduating students from the 2011 - 2014 admissions cohort the minimum time to completion is 3.29 years and the maximum time is 7.4 years with an average of 5.56 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each registration year, May to April, e.g. data for 2022 refers to programs starting in 2022 Summer and 2022 Winter session, i.e. May 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023. Data on total enrolment reflects enrolment in Winter Session Term 1 and are based on snapshots taken on November 1 of each registration year. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Graduation rates exclude students who transfer out of their programs. 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.

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Monday, 24 June 2024 - 9:00am - 1312, Life Sciences Institute, 2350 Health Sciences Mall

Peter Grin
Protease Regulation of Disease: SARS-CoV-2 3CLpro is Secreted and Cleaves Interferon-Lambdas, and MMP12 Regulates Substrates in Age-Related Fatty Liver Disease

Research Supervisors

Supervision

Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their thesis supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding thesis supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (PhD)
Applicants should browse faculty profiles and indicate in their application who they are interested in working with. No commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary, but contacting faculty members is encouraged.
 
Advice and insights from UBC Faculty on reaching out to supervisors

These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a supervisor. They are not program specific.

 

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 (Biochemistry; Chemical sciences; Genomics; Biological and Biochemical Mechanisms; biomass; carbohydrates; cellulose; Chemical Synthesis and Catalysis; Enzymes; microbiota; plant cell walls; polysaccharides)
  • Ciernia, Annie (Biochemistry; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Autism; Brain development; Epigenetics; Gene-Environment Interactions; Neurodevelopmental disorders)
  • 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)
  • Duong, Franck (Applied immunology (including antibody engineering, xenotransplantation and t-cell therapies); Medical molecular engineering of nucleic acids and proteins)
  • Eltis, Lindsay (Biochemistry; Genomics; Immunology; Microbiology; Bacterial catabolism of steroids and lignin; biocatalyst development; Enzymes and Proteins; Metabolism (Living Organisms); Mycobacterium tuberculosis)
  • Finlay, B Brett (Infectious agents, bacteria, microbial infections and how humans react to it)
  • Foster, Leonard (Biochemistry; Genomics; Agriculture; antigen presentation; Bioinformatics; Biological and Biochemical Mechanisms; Biotechnology; Cell Signaling and Infectious and Immune Diseases; Honey bees; host-pathogen interactions; Immune System; Microbiology; Proteomics; Systems Biology)
  • Gsponer, Joerg (Protein-DNA, protein-RNA and protein-protein interactions)
  • Hieter, Philip (Molecular biology of eukaryotic chromosome transmission )
  • Howe, Leann (Biochemistry; chromatin; Transcription)
  • Jan, Eric (Biochemistry; Virus; Nucleic Acids; Proteomics; Antiviral innate immunity; Zika; coxsackievirus; enterovirus; Innate immunity; molecular biology; picornavirus; protease; Protein synthesis; RNA; RNA structure function; RNA virus; ribosome; SARS; tRNA; translation; Virology; virus host interactions; mRNA therapeutics)
  • Kelleher, Dermot (immune response to many of the leading causes of gastrointestinal infectious disease worldwide)
  • Kim, Hugh (platelet biochemistry)
  • Kobor, Michael (Biochemistry; Bioinformatics; Genetic medicine; Genomics; Chromatin Biology; Epigenetics; molecular biology; Social Epigenetics)
  • Lim, Emilia (Bioinformatics, Cancer, Aging, Genomics, Transcriptomics, Epigenomics, Pollution Exposure)
  • Mayor, Thibault (Biochemistry; Genomics; Aging; Cell Biology; Neurodegenerative diseases; Proteasome; Protein Degradation; Protein Folding; Proteomics; Proteostasis; Ubiquitin; Yeast Genetics)
  • 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)
  • Parker, Seth (Metabolomics; Cell metabolism; Pediatric cancer; mass spectrometry; Childhood disease; Cancer; Solute carriers; Metabolism; Mitochondria; Stable-isotope tracing; Functional assay development)
  • Sadowski, Ivan (Gene regulation contributing to cancer and HIV, and yeast, regulation of HIV-I latency and replication in T cells)
  • Strynadka, Natalie (Blood Research, structure-based design of inhibitors, antibiotic-resistance mechanisms, macromolecular assemblies, bacterial viability pathogenesis)

Pages

Doctoral Citations

A doctoral citation summarizes the nature of the independent research, provides a high-level overview of the study, states the significance of the work and says who will benefit from the findings in clear, non-specialized language, so that members of a lay audience will understand it.
Year Citation
2024 Dr. Kwan researches the TATA-box binding protein (TBP), an essential protein that initiates transcription and is the first step in gene expression. Dr. Kwan challenges the dogma of transcription initiation and presents evidence that TBP has evolved from its historical role in governing transcription.
2024 Dr. Baker worked on developing an in-house pre-clinical trial assay for incorporating genetic diversity into vaccine candidate selection. The immune system is the most genetically diverse part of the human genome and must be accounted for when creating vaccines with widespread immunity.
2024 Dr. Cheung studied a protein involved in the autophagy pathway that removes waste from cells in the human body. His work investigated the structural and functional relationship of this autophagy regulator and its coordination with other proteins to facilitate the process, further delineating its underlying mechanism that leads to related diseases.
2024 Dr. Wardman's research has focused on developing new enzymatic tools to manipulate proteins that are modified with certain sugars. To do so, he discovered new enzymes from Nature and also engineered these enzymes to better carry out these manipulations. The tools he developed will enable us to shed light on these otherwise mysterious modifications.
2024 Dr. Nguyen studied the molecular machines responsible for the transcription of RNA using cutting-edge techniques like super resolution microscopy and next-generation sequencing. His work not only unraveled novel perspectives of transcription mechanisms, but also challenged previous paradigms to provide a better understanding of gene regulation.
2024 Dr. Saville characterized SARS-CoV-2 variants in real-time as they emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaborating with the BC - Centres For Disease Control, antibodies from patient sera were assessed for their ability to neutralize major viral variants to help inform future vaccination strategies.
2024 Dr. Molzahn characterized the composition of protein aggregates that form in brain tissue during aging, contributing new information to the mechanism of aggregate formation and neurodegeneration.
2023 Dr. Radisavljevic investigated the role of gut bacteria in Parkinson's disease using a mouse model. This work helps with an understanding of which gut bacterial members may play a role in modulating non-motor symptoms of this disease.
2023 Dr. Rufenach studied the biophysical interactions and three-dimensional structures of protein complexes involved in calcium signaling pathways. Her research has contributed to understanding the mechanisms of skeletal muscle contraction and rare neuromuscular diseases.
2023 Dr. Horvath worked on host cell factors that regulate HIV-1 replication. By using small molecules to target these factors, he identified novel classes of potential HIV-1 chemotherapies.

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Further Information

Possible areas of research in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology include: control of gene expression in eukaryotes and bacteria; structure and function of genes; systems biology; blood proteins; the mechanism of the action of insulin; membrane and membrane protein structure and function; protein trafficking; cell-surface receptors, signal transduction, and cell-growth control; neural and retinal photoreceptor membranes; lipid-based targeted delivery systems; macromolecular crystallography and X-ray diffraction techniques for the characterization of enzymes and protein complexes; metalloprotein structure and function; mechanisms of enzyme activity; mechanism of hemoprotein electron transfer; structural analysis of proteins by nuclear magnetic resonance; mechanisms of multi-drug resistance; and cancer.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

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