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

Aligning your Graduate Program and Career Goals

Date: Wednesday, 19 August 2020
Time: 11:00 to 12:00

Join Danielle Barkley, Educator and Career & Professional Development Advisor at UBC's Centre for Student Involvement and Careers, and Shane Moore, Marketing and Recruitment Manager. They'll be talking about aligning your graduate program with your career goals. They'll also be providing an overview of the wide range of career and professional development opportunities and support available at UBC. This session will be helpful to those still thinking about which graduate program is right for them, as well as applicants who know their program of study and want to better understand the support and guidance available at UBC.

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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$106.00$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)$944.51 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $16,954.00 (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.

  • Otto, Sarah (evolution, mathematical modeling, population genetics, genomic evolution, evolution of sex, yeast experimental evolution, Population genetics and evolutionary biology, yeast)
  • Overall, Christopher Mark (Blood research, antiviral immunity)
  • Pavlidis, Paul (Bioinformatics, computational biology, genomics, genome, neuroscience, neurobiology, gene expression, microarray, computer science, machine learning, statistics, Bioinformatics and neuroscience, schizophrenia and autism)
  • Pennell, Matthew (evolution, Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, Biodiversity Theory and Informatics, Evolutionary change across different time scales, Ecological and evolutionary processes operating in "deep time", Ecological models for adaptive radiation, Long-term dynamics of evolutionary change, Phylogenetics, Macroevolution, evolutionary genetics)
  • Plotkin, Steven (Biophysics theory and computation )
  • Rieseberg, Loren (plant evolutionary biology, adaptation, speciation, crops, weeds, invasive plants)
  • Roth, Andrew (Molecular Oncology, Bioinformatics, Computational Biology, computational statistics, Machine Learning, genomics, Cancer Evolution, Evolutionary cancer biology, Cancer omics data, computational methods for studying clonal population structures and tumour evolution, Methodological work in computational statistics)
  • Simpson, Elizabeth (Congenital Anomalies, Eye and Visual System Diseases, Gene therapy for brain and eye diseases, In vivo gene augmentation and genome editing (CRISPR/CAS9), CRISPR, Aniridia, Rare diseases, Congenital blindness, MiniPromoters for restricted expression)
  • Steidl, Christian (Cancer; Molecular Pathology & Cell Biology, Genetics, genomics proteomics and related approaches)
  • Suttle, Curtis (Marine Environment, Microbial Diversity, Marine Microbiology, Environmental Virology, Biological Oceanography, Viral Discovery, Viruses, Phage)
  • Swindale, Nicholas Vaughan (Neuronal Modeling, Neuronal Systems, Eye and Visual System Diseases, Visual System)
  • Takei, Fumio (Molecular immunology, cancer, cell-cell interactions)
  • Tam, Roger (Imaging, Expert Systems, Neurodegenerative Diseases, Shape Recognition and Computer Graphics, Computer Science and Statistics, Biomedical Technologies, Machine Learning, Precision Medicine, Radiology, Biomedical Informatics, Data Analytics)
  • Tremlett, Helen (multiple sclerosis, prognosis, disease progression, natural history, disease modifying therapies, drugs, beta-interferon, therapeutics, adverse drug, reactions, side effects, effectiveness, epidemiology, pharmacoepidemiology, liver, pregnancy, Multiple sclerosis, euroepidemiology)
  • Wang, Zhen (Signal processing theory and applications, bioinformatics)
  • Wasserman, Wyeth (Bioinformatics, computation analysis of human genome, gene regulation, rare pediatric disorders)
  • Weng, Andrew (Molecular biology )
  • Woodward, Todd (Cognitive neuropsychiatry and functional neuroimaging)

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
2014 Dr. Courtot demonstrated that biomedical knowledge can be logically encoded and processed by computers. She developed a knowledge representation model to accurately automate the diagnosis of adverse events following immunization. Her research improves public health by allowing for faster and cheaper detection of safety issues related to vaccination.
2013 Dr. Samadian studied at the iCapture centre in St Paul's hospital. He proposed a pathway towards "in silico" clinical research, investigating methodologies to facilitate the representation and sharing of clinical knowledge. The goal of the research is to provide a decision support framework to help clinicians make efficient healthcare decisions.
2013 Dr. Aghaeepour developed algorithms for analysis of the millions of cell types involved in the immune system. He subsequently used these methods in clinical studies, to better diagnose and treat cancer, HIV, kidney transplant failure, tuberculosis and other diseases.
2012 Dr. Mistry examined gene expression patterns in the postmortem human brain. Using statistical methods, she looked at which genes are turned on and off in healthy brains compared to the brains of people with schizophrenia. Her findings contribute to our knowledge of gene function in the brain and offers insight into the underlying cause of schizophrenia.
2012 Dr. Cheung developed computer methods to describe the properties of genes, diseases and drugs in quantitative profiles. In performing billions of computer comparisons, his methods for comparing profiles from different topics reveals new associations between genes and diseases, and new disease applications for existing drugs.
2012 High-risk neuroblastoma is an aggressive cancer that affects nerve cells and is hard to cure in children over 1 year of age. Dr.Morozova used state-of-the-art technologies to crack the genetic code of neuroblastoma cells. Her research revealed genetic errors that could provide clues for the development of new therapies for neuroblastoma patients.
2012 Dr. Morin used new tools for reading the genome of human cancer cells, to find mutations previously unknown to be relevant to disease. Some mutations may offer new options for developing lymphoma drugs. Others should allow us to treat about 5% more children with leukemia who would not previously have been considered candidates for drug treatment.
2012 Dr. French provided new perspectives on brain structure and function by employing computational methods to analyze large-scale genomic and anatomical data.
2012 Dr. Li applied and developed bioinformatic methods to find new therapeutic uses for existing drugs. By modeling interactions between known drug targets and approved drugs, she identified novel potential for existing drugs in breast cancer and inflammatory diseases. This research helps find drug candidates that could be fast-tracked for clinical use and approval.
2010 Dr. Hsing developed novel bioinformatics tools and approaches to identify highly-interacting proteins in bacteria. This research provides an effective drug discovery platform for future therapeutic applications. As a result of Dr. Hsing's work, new antibiotic candidates have been developed which are capable of eliminating major drug-resistant infections.

Pages

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.
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
 

Supervisor Search

 

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