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

Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy in Bioinformatics (PhD)is an interdisciplinary program that combines the application of computer technology to the management and analysis of biological data. The result is that computers are being used to organize data generated from experiments into databases, develop new algorithms and software, and use this software for the interpretation and analysis of the data into meaningful biological information. For the past ten years, our PhD program has been training students to organize, visualize, analyze and interpret biological data. Students have access to world renowned bioinformaticians at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the BC Cancer Agency, and have exposure to the latest technologies to develop their skills.

Strategic Program Objectives:

  • To build on British Columbia's reputation and excellence in bioinformatics.
  • To integrate bioinformatics into basic biology to further current research excellence in other life science sectors of the province.
  • To foster collaborations locally, nationally and internationally.

What makes the program unique?

The Bioinformatics PhD program integrates academic centres in computer science, statistics, molecular biology and biotechnology, with translational groups at hospitals and at the clinical interface. The innovative partnership among the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the BC Cancer Agency allows students' access to experts in the field of bioinformatics, and exposure to original research and opportunities to complete significant practical work on real bioinformatics problems. Internships allow student mobility between Canadian and international universities, institutions and industries to further enhance collaborations among Canadian high-technology research groups in both the private and public sectors.

Program Structure

The major requirement for the Ph.D. is completion of a research dissertation meeting the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies requirements. There are no specific course requirements for the Ph.D. degree program apart from the dissertation. However, the student's Ph.D. dissertation committee has the prerogative to impose course requirements where course deficiencies are perceived.

All doctoral students are required to successfully complete a comprehensive examination, which consists of an oral and written component within the first 36 months of study. All students are required to present a Bioinformatics graduate program seminar upon completion of their program, and before their dissertation defense.

A student's committee for the doctorate will consist of the dissertation supervisor and three others. The supervisor and at least one other member must be members of the Bioinformatics graduate program.

 

Program Enquiries

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

Admission Information & Requirements

Program Instructions

Students must secure a supervisor before they can be admitted into the program. As well, they must meet the minimum admission requirements set out by Graduate and Post-doctoral Studies at UBC.

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: 100

Reading

22

Writing

21

Speaking

21

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.0

Reading

6.0

Writing

6.0

Speaking

6.0

Listening

6.0

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 not required.

Prior degree, course and other requirements

Prior Degree Requirements

Students admitted to the Ph.D. degree program normally possess an M.Sc. degree in Bioinformatics or a related area, with clear evidence of research ability or potential.

Document Requirements

CV, Official transcripts, three letters of reference, Official English exam scores (if required)

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 Bioinformatics (PhD)
All applicants need firm commitment from a supervisor prior to applying.

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.

Research Information

Program Components

Students who secure an NSERC-CREATE scholarship will undertake a 3-4 month internship that may be local, within Canada or at an international University or Institution.

Research Facilities

Bioinformatics faculty are spread throughout the UBC campus, as well as off-campus at the BC Cancer Research Centre or hospital research labs and Institutions.

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

All students accepted by a faculty member and enrolled in the program will be paid a minimum stipend of $24,300/year.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 30 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 $26,823.
  • 9 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 9 students was $10,203.
  • 20 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 20 students was $24,220.
  • 2 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 2 students was $3,698.
  • 22 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 22 students was $8,079.
  • 3 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 3 students was $14,444.

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 Calculator

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

Career Outcomes

12 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 12 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):


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
McGill University
Stanford university
University of California - Santa Cruz
Harvard University
Simon Fraser University
University of California - Los Angeles
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Vancouver Prostate Centre
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Omicia
Scripps Research Institute
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Postdoctoral Fellow (3)
Independent Scientist
Senior Director of Bioinformatics
Assistant Professor
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

As biological datasets increase exponentially in both size and complexity, bioinformatics tools have central importance in fields and industries ranging from environmental management, forestry, aquaculture, and biofuels to personalized medicine, drug development, preventative medicine and gene therapy. Individuals who can analyuze and interpret large data sets or "big data" are highly sought after by both public and private sector employers.  Academic positions at Universities are widely available in all fields of study.

Ph.D. graduates from the program have gone on to pursue post-doctoral studies at Stanford, Harvard school of Medicine, Max Delbruck Centre in Berlin, Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard, Ontario Cancer Institute, Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Santa Cruz, and locally at UBC and SFU.  One graduate is an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University and another is an assistant professor at the University of Dalhousie in Halifax, NS.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

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

ENROLMENT DATA

 20222021202020192018
Applications2236332726
Offers9109411
New Registrations67846
Total Enrolment4947444237

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 84% based on 26 students admitted between 2010 - 2013. Based on 13 graduations between 2019 - 2022 the minimum time to completion is 4.31 years and the maximum time is 8.88 years with an average of 6.41 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

Thursday, 28 March 2024 - 9:00am - Room 200

Luka Culibrk
Copy Number Variation in Metastatic Cancer: Methods and Analysis of Somatic Copy Number Variation in Advanced Human Cancers

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 Bioinformatics (PhD)
All applicants need firm commitment from a supervisor prior to applying.
 
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.

  • Accili, Eric (molecular mechanisms responsible for cellular pacemaking behavior )
  • Adams, Keith (Molecular evolution, genome evolution, and gene expression)
  • Aparicio, Samuel (Breast cancer, genome sequencing )
  • Bashashati Saghezchi, Ali (Bioinformatics; Medical and biomedical engineering; Artificial Intelligence; Computational Pathology; Cancer Genomics; Computational Biology; Digital Pathology; Image Processing; Machine Learning; Ovarian Cancer; Signal Processing; Multi-modal Learning)
  • Birol, Inanc (bioinformatics, computational biology, genomics, transcriptome analysis, next generation sequencing, cancer, Bioinformatics, sequence assembly, transcriptomics, gene regulation networks, high throughput informatics for big data)
  • Bohlmann, Joerg (plant biochemistry, forestry genomics, forest health, conifers, poplar, bark beetle, mountain pine beetle, natural products, secondary metabolites, terpenes, floral scent, grapevine, Conifer genomics Forest health genomics Mountain pine beetle, fungus, pine interactions and genomics Chemical ecology of conifer, insect interactions)
  • Bouchard-Cote, Alexandre (machine/statistical learning; mathematical side of the subject as well as in applications in linguistics and biology)
  • Brooks-Wilson, Angela (Bioinformatics; Clinical oncology; Genetic medicine; Genomics; cancer families; cancer genetics; genetic susceptibility; human genetics; longevity; Super seniors)
  • Brown, Carolyn Janet (Bioinformatics; Clinical oncology; Genetic medicine; Genomics; Health counselling; Applied Genetics; Chromosomes: Structure / Organization; DNA methylation; Epigenetic control of gene expression; Gene Regulation and Expression; Genes escaping X-chromosome inactivation; Long non-coding RNAs; X-chromosome inactivation; XIST RNA)
  • Carlsten, Christopher (Environment and Respiratory Diseases)
  • Cembrowski, Mark Steven (Molecular neuroscience; Mathematical modelling and simulation; Mechanisms of memory in the brain; Anxiety; Big Data; Bioinformatics; Cell types; Computation; CRISPR-Cas9; Fear; Genetics; modeling; Neural circuits; neuroscience; Neuroscience of memory; PTSD; RNAseq)
  • Cherkasov, Artem (Drug design; Bioinformatics, Molecular modeling; Proteomics; Artificial intelligence; Antibiotics )
  • Cohen Freue, Gabriela (statistical genomics (focus in proteomics), robust estimation and inference, linear models with endogeneity )
  • Collins, Colin (translational genomics where mathematics, genomics, computer science, and clinical science converge in diagnostics and therapeutics)
  • Condon, Anne (Algorithms; Molecular Programming)
  • Coombs, Daniel (Mathematical biology; Cellular immunology; Complex physical systems; Epidemiology (except nutritional and veterinary epidemiology); Cell Signaling and Infectious and Immune Diseases; Cell biophysics; Disease models; Epidemiology; Immune cell signalling; Mathematics)
  • Daley, Denise (Bioinformatics; Asthma; Complex Trait Genetics; Epigenetics; gene-gene and gene-environment interactions; Genetic Diseases; genetic epidemiology; Genetics of Aging; statistical genetics; Susceptibility Genes)
  • Dao Duc, Khanh (Genomics; Mathematical biology; Neurocognitive patterns and neural networks; Agricultural spatial analysis and modelling; combine mathematical,computational and statistical tools to study fundamental biological processes; regulation and determinants of gene expression and translation; Machine Learning for Biological Imaging and Microscopy; Database development and management; Biological and Artificial Neural Networks for geometric representation)
  • de Boer, Carl (Gene regulation)
  • Dennis, Jessica (Bioinformatics; Genetic medicine; Administrative health data; Complex Trait Genetics; Electronic health records; Epidemiology; genetic epidemiology; Genetics of Neurological and Psychiatric Diseases; Machine Learning; Mental Health and Psychopathology in Children and Youth; Precision Health; statistical genetics)
  • Ding, Jiarui (Bioinformatics; Basic medicine and life sciences; Computational Biology; Machine Learning; Probabilistic Deep Learning; single-cell genomics; visualization; Cancer biology; Computational Immunology; Food Allergy; neuroscience)
  • Eaves, Constance Jean (Normal and leukemic stem cells, normal and malignant breast stem cells)
  • Finlay, B Brett (Infectious agents, bacteria, microbial infections and how humans react to it)
  • Frangou, Sophia (the study of the human brain in health and disease)
  • Friedman, Jan Marshall (Other clinical medicine; Genetic medicine; Genomics; Health counselling; Application of whole genome sequencing to diagnose genetic disease; Birth defects epidemiology; Clinical genomics; Developmental Genetics; Genetics and Heredity; Neurofibromatosis)

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
2023 Dr. Jones developed and implemented phylogenetic methods to estimate integration dates of HIV proviruses. His findings have provided a better understanding of within-host HIV dynamics and is beneficial for HIV cure research.
2023 Genetic research implicates virtually every human gene in one or more diseases but cannot state how genetic differences lead to disease. Using statistical techniques, Dr. Casazza discovered the function of many genetic differences across different scenarios. Similarly, he shows that these functions are involved in disease for children and adults.
2023 Dr. Nip developed computational solutions for sequence assembly and visualization for RNA-sequencing data. His research presents fast and memory-efficient methods to study RNA in cells. These contributions lay the groundwork to advance our understanding of biology and diseases.
2023 Dr. Morova's research presents a novel computational framework to study the impact of non-coding mutations on the development of prostate cancer. By using advanced functional genomics techniques, he worked to identify key mutations that affect the growth of the disease, which provided useful insight into the study of prostate cancer genetics.
2022 Dr. Ton explored the inhibition of challenging drug targets in prostate cancer and COVID-19. He deployed innovative computer-aided drug design methodologies to access a wider range of therapeutic opportunities against the two diseases. His research provides the framework for the development of novel anti-cancer and antiviral drugs.
2022 Dr. Novakovskiy advanced our understanding of genome regulation by improving stem cell differentiation protocols and designing inherently interpretable deep learning methods. His bioinformatics advances will help achieve cell therapies for diabetes patients.
2022 Dr. Islam studied epigenetic alterations associated with a subset of human lymphoid leukemias, which are the cancer of white blood cells. He identified key mechanisms for enhancer activation driving the oncogenic transcriptional program in those leukemias that might help to develop potential targeted anti-leukemic therapeutics.
2022 Dr. Morgan-Lang charted the global distribution of microorganisms that cycle methane with software he developed for classifying proteins and inferring metabolic diversity of microbial communities. By linking metabolic function to organisms, these computational tools will help us monitor ecosystems as they respond to a changing planet.
2022 Dr. Gagalova studies the genomes of conifers, conifer insect pest and cannabis to find unique markers of evolution. This research looks for genes and features in the genomes to make possible the feature applied research.
2022 Dr. Baghela used statistical learning methods to identify distinct gene expression patterns in early sepsis patients that predict impending disease severity. He indicates these patterns can be rapidly measured in patient blood at hospital admission, providing clinicians with an accurate and early means to predict specific patient outcomes.

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Further Information

Specialization

Bioinformatics combines computational and biological disciplines.

Faculty Overview

Academic Unit

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-CS

Classification

 
 
 
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