Doctor of Philosophy in Bioinformatics (PhD)

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.

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Program Enquiries

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

Meet a UBC representative

PhD Funding Opportunities

Date: Tuesday, 06 October 2020
Time: 10:00 to 11:00

Join Dr Julian Dierkes, Associate Dean, Funding, with Kelli Kadokawa and Shane Moore from the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies as they talk about funding opportunities for PhD's at UBC. Dr Dierkes will provide an overview of the different awards and scholarship available to incoming PhD students as well as providing some tips and advice on applying. We'll also be answering your questions.

Register

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

January 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
25 May 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 18 September 2020
Transcript Deadline: 18 September 2020
Referee Deadline: 18 September 2020
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 04 August 2020
Transcript Deadline: 04 August 2020
Referee Deadline: 04 August 2020

May 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
25 May 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 22 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 22 January 2021
Referee Deadline: 22 January 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 18 December 2020
Transcript Deadline: 18 December 2020
Referee Deadline: 18 December 2020

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
25 May 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 12 March 2021
Transcript Deadline: 12 March 2021
Referee Deadline: 12 March 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 12 February 2021
Transcript Deadline: 12 February 2021
Referee Deadline: 12 February 2021

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 supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding 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$108.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,095.68$8,952.27
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)
* 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.  Applicants who are interested in the organization and management of data, the development of algorithms and software, and application of these approaches to questions in wide-ranging areas of biology may consider the NSERC-CREATE funded Training Program in High-Dimensional Bioinformatics that provides additional funding and professional development opportunities.

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.

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.

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 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.

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

 20192018201720162015
Applications232224166
Offers49955
New registrations45944
Total enrolment4341373229

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 100% based on 7 students admitted between 2006 - 2009. Based on 9 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 4.83 years and the maximum time is 7.33 years with an average of 5.46 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: 10 March 2020]. 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: 27 October 2019].

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.

  • 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 (Artificial Intelligence; Bioinformatics; Breast Cancer; Cancer Genomics; Computational Biology; Digital Pathology; Image Processing; Machine Learning; Ovarian Cancer; Signal Processing)
  • 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)
  • Brinkman, Ryan (Bioinformatics, flow cytometry, high throughput data analysis, data standars, GvHD biomarker identification, cluster identification)
  • Brooks-Wilson, Angela (human genetics; cancer genetics; cancer families; longevity; Super seniors; genetic susceptibility)
  • Brown, Carolyn Janet (Gene Regulation and Expression; Chromosomes: Structure / Organization; Applied Genetics; Epigenetic control of gene expression; X-chromosome inactivation; Long non-coding RNAs; XIST RNA; Genes escaping X-chromosome inactivation; DNA methylation)
  • 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)
  • Daley, Denise (Complex Trait Genetics; Genetic Diseases; Asthma; Susceptibility Genes; Genetics of Aging; genetic epidemiology; statistical genetics; Epigenetics; gene-gene and gene-environment interactions)
  • Dennis, Jessica (Complex Trait Genetics; Genetics of Neurological and Psychiatric Diseases; Epidemiology; Mental Health and Psychopathology in Children and Youth; Bioinformatics; genetic epidemiology; statistical genetics; Precision Health; Electronic health records; Administrative health data; Machine Learning)
  • Eaves, Constance Jean (Normal and leukemic stem cells, normal and malignant breast stem cells)
  • Edelstein-Keshet, Leah (Mathematics; Modelization and Simulation; Cell Signaling; Cell Signaling and Cancer; Differential Equation; cell polarity, cell migration, developmental and cellular biology; swarming and aggregation; Rho GTPases)
  • Finlay, B Brett (Infectious agents, bacteria, microbial infections and how humans react to it)
  • Friedman, Jan Marshall (Genetics and Heredity; Developmental Genetics; Genomics; Application of whole genome sequencing to diagnose genetic disease; Clinical genomics; Neurofibromatosis; Birth defects epidemiology)
  • Garbi, Rafeef (Biomedical Technologies; Imaging; Artificial Intelligence; Medical Image Computing; Machine Learning; Computer Vision; image analysis; Biomedical Engineering; Deep Learning)
  • Gardy, Jennifer (Tuberculosis, Outbreaks)
  • Goldowitz, Daniel (Genetic basis of brain disease, neurobiology of autism, Huntingtong's gene, mouse/mice epigenetics, gene regulatory network)
  • Gsponer, Joerg (Protein-DNA, protein-RNA and protein-protein interactions)
  • Hallam, Steven (methanogenesis, methane oxidation, methyl coenzyme M reductase, metagenomics, environmental microbiology, genomics, proteomics, microbial ecology, systems biology, archaea, energy, bioinformatics, Microbial communities, construction and interpretation of environmental genomic libraries, generation of computational tools and workflows for taxonomic and functional binning, population genome assembly, and comparative community analysis, development and functional screens to interrogate environmental genomic libraries for bioactive small molecules and biocatalysis)

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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
2020 Dr. Farahbod studied gene expression in human tissues and showed that observed patterns of expression can be attributed to the diverse cellular composition of the samples. By characterizing this feature of expression data, her study assists us in furthering our knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms behind the regulation of gene expression.
2020 Dr. Chu improved the process of using computers to extract meaningful information from biological sequences such as DNA. He designed computer programs to store data in probabilistic data structures, which purposely store data as approximate signatures in order to surpass the computational memory and speed limits of representing the data perfectly.
2020 Dr. Gatev developed a new method for analyzing epigenetic data to characterize genomic regions of concordant DNA methylation, which is an important part of the epigenome. His approach was used to characterize sex differences in DNA methylation of blood tissue. This work will improve statistical discovery and validation in future applications.
2019 Dr. Lever developed methods to extract biomedical knowledge from published academic papers. Working at BC Cancer's Genome Sciences Centre, he used machine learning approaches to find genetic information useful to clinicians treating cancer patients in a personalized way. His results are accessed daily by cancer researchers around the world.
2019 DNA sequencing machines read the A, C, G, and T nucleotides that compose chromosomes, but they read only short snippets of DNA and make errors. Dr. Jackman developed tools to reconstruct the true genome sequence from imperfect DNA sequencing reads. He used these tools to assemble the western red cedar genome, which is four times larger than the human genome.
2018 Dr. Shrestha developed computational algorithms to identify and prioritize cancer driver genes. He identified a novel molecular subtype of malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, potentially vulnerable to immunotherapy. His work helps clinicians contextualize genomic information in clinical decision making, thus enabling precision oncology.
2017 Dr. Shi created computer methods that identify which DNA sequence alterations impact the on/off switches for gene activity. This research will help us understand how each person's DNA increases or decreases the risk for health problems.
2017 Dr. Mohamadi designed and developed a collection of novel algorithms and software tools for the analysis of massive bioinformatics data. Theses algorithms and software tools are publicly available for free to facilitate research at health and life sciences laboratories and other organizations worldwide.
2017 Dr. Chan studied how tumours from lymphoma patients evolved over time under treatment. He identified markers of treatment resistance that can be used towards the design of future diagnostic tests. His work exemplifies the application of genomics in precision medicine.
2016 Human genome sequencing is now being used to discover the cause of genetic diseases. Dr. Shyr's research improves the way doctors interpret a patient's DNA, and presents a novel computational algorithm to analyze DNA data. Collaborating with the BC Children's Hospital, his research provides patients with access to personalized treatments.

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Further Program Information

Specialization

Bioinformatics combines computational and biological disciplines.

Faculty Overview

Academic Unit

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-CS
 

Apply Now

If you don't have a UBC Campus-Wide Login (CWL) please create an account first.
If you don't have a UBC Campus-Wide Login (CWL) please create an account first.
 

January 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
25 May 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
18 September 2020
International Applicant Deadline
04 August 2020

May 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
25 May 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
22 January 2021
International Applicant Deadline
18 December 2020

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
25 May 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
12 March 2021
International Applicant Deadline
12 February 2021
 

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