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.
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. In the recent months, we have added Covid-19 research to some labs. 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.
As a world-class university that is also a hub for many collaborative engagements with other researchers, I felt that UBC would be an ideal place to continue my education. UBC is also one of the leading destinations in the world for developing nanomedicines, an area of research I was keen on pursuing heading into graduate studies.
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Join this online session and learn how to make your grad school application as strong as possible. Kelli Kadokawa and Shane Moore from the Graduate and Postdoctoral Office will be joined by admissions colleagues to talk about applying to research based and professional programs. There will be lots of advice and tips to help your application stand out.Register
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.
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:
Overall score requirement: 106
Overall score requirement: 7.5
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.
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.
Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.
Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.
Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.
All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,698.56||$2,984.09|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$969.17 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $17,242.00 (check cost calculator)|
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.
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.
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 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.
Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
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:
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.
|2013||Dr. Donohue identified an approved drug, verteporfin, as a chemical inhibitor of autophagy, a process that protects cancer cells against stress. Verteporfin was shown to counter autophagy and was characterized as a potential anticancer therapy. This study supports autophagy inhibition as a strategy to improve current cancer therapies|
|2013||Dr. Lee characterized and developed a novel therapeutic for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. He achieved this using a lipid drug delivery system that silenced the expression of cancer causing genes. This therapeutic holds great potential as a future treatment option for prostate cancer patients.|
|2013||Dr. Dahabieh's work in the Sadowski laboratory focused on studying how the genes of the HIV virus are regulated. He also developed new technologies to examine the ways in which HIV gene regulation promotes viral persistence. Such technologies are vital to identifying novel therapies that may be used in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.|
|2013||Dr. Minaker investigated how genomic instability and DNA damage can result from mutations. Thos mutations affect the cellular machinery required to decode the genetic information in DNA. This work expands our knowledge of genes that are required for maintaining genome integrity, which could be contributing factors to cancer development.|
|2013||Dr. Ho used baker's yeast to study the function of separase, a cell cycle regulatory protein. These studies are important, as the overproduction of separase has been associated with several forms of cancer. Her work helped shed light on new roles for this protein, opening new avenues of study for an already exciting field.|
|2013||Dr. Coleman studied photo-receptors, which are cells in the eye that detect light. He discovered a protein that transports lipids and is necessary for normal vision and photo-receptor structure. His research illuminates the function of an essential process common to all cell types and contributes to our knowledge of human neuro-degenerative diseases.|
|2013||Dr. Chruscicki identified a new biological mechanism that regulates access to genetic information inside cells. Using next-generation DNA sequencing he showed how a molecular tether, termed FACT, promotes gene expression. This work enhances our understanding of basic biology and may lead to new approaches to treat cancer.|
|2013||Dr. Kuo studied a human enzyme that degrades Tryptophan and contributes to the persistence of tumours. Using biophysical methods, he discovered and characterized new chemical reactivities of this enzyme. His work advances our knowledge of how this enzyme works and that may enable new strategies to suppress these activities and thus combat cancer.|
|2012||Dr. Zheng used various proteomics methods to study cell membranes, especially lipid rafts on those membranes, which carry many biological functions. One of her findings was that the presence of lipid rafts may provide an entry point for life-threatening bacteria like Salmonella. Her research contributes to our knowledge of the function of membranes and the way bacteria affect them.|
|2012||Dr. van Pel used the genetics of baker's yeast to identify new protein targets for cancer drugs. He used this knowledge to identify chemicals that could selectively kill human tumor cells, which may lead to the development of new drugs to treat a wide variety of cancers.|
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.