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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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.
|2011||Dr Starr studied proteins that direct the white blood cells in inflammation. By identifying and determining the functional consequences of naturally occurring modifications of these proteins, she proposed a mechanism that promotes the switch from an acute inflammatory response to a chronic response. Her work has implications on our understanding of the progression of diseases including arthritis and cancer.|
|2010||Dr. Kang used magnetic resonance spectroscopy to determine how two proteins, called ETS and CBP, interact to regulate the expression of the genes encoded within our DNA. This research adds to our understanding of how ETS proteins control both normal and cancerous cellular growth.|
|2010||Dr. Wong has developed a model system with yeast for studying the combinatorial effects of two human proteins involved in iron export. She confirmed that the two proteins physically interact and found that they may also be involved in the transport of other essential trace metals in the body.|
|2010||Dr. Lee structurally and kinetically characterized essential enzymes involving sialic acid metabolism in bacterial pathogens. These studies significantly contribute to our understanding of various enzymes encoded by pathogenic bacteria, providing valuable insight into their catalytic mechanism and specificity.|
|2010||Dr. Lee's research provides important new information about the control of acetyl-CoA carboxylase, an enzyme that plays a vital role in controlling fat storage in the body. Her work increases our understanding of fat metabolism and may provide the basisfor developing drugs to treat obesity.|
|2010||Dr. Chan studied honey bees and their ability to fight a highly contagious bacterial disease. She discovered that young bees lacked key proteins, which resulted in high susceptibility to infection. This research was the first detailed look into the molecular biology of the developing bee immune system.|
|2009||Dr. Gretes studied the x-ray crystal structures of proteins involved in bacterial antibiotic resistance. He also examined the way that two new drugs precisely interact with their protein targets. It is hoped that his work will help guide the development of new, more effective antibiotics.|
|2009||Dr. Wong studied iron storage in bacteria and focused his research on the protein bacterioferritin. He uncovered details of the molecular mechanism by which this protein converts iron into a biomineral. His discoveries enhance our understanding of iron storage proteins that are found in nearly all living organisms.|
|2009||Dr. Zuyderduyn developed methods to help understand the large amounts of complex information generated from certain methods of profiling cancers. Dr Zuyderduyn used these methods to identify several genes that may be important in the initiation and progression of a common form of lung cancer.|
|2009||Dr. Quenneville studied the specialized machinery and pathways that transport proteins within the cell. Her research provided insight into how proteins are selectively recycled, and contributed to an understanding of the underlying molecular defects that cause motor neuron disease.|
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.