Canadian Immigration Updates

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

Overview

The graduate program in Cell and Developmental Biology offers M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees to students undertaking advanced study and research in cell and developmental biology. The program is flexible and is designed to accommodate the diverse backgrounds of students and the broad nature of research in cell and developmental biology.

The program's courses provide a thorough understanding of the scientific fundamentals and methodologies of contemporary cell and developmental biology. All students also undertake original and significant research from the start of their studies. With nearly 50 faculty members engaged in cutting-edge research in cell and developmental biology, a wide range of research topics is available to students.

The program also aims to enhance linkages and facilitate research interactions between the larger community of cell and developmental biologists in British Columbia by acting as a common forum for scholarly exchange in cell and developmental biology through its student-led seminar series, research retreats and other activities.

What makes the program unique?

The Program is administered through the Life Sciences Institute (LSI), Canada's largest Institute for life science research which houses over 80 laboratories conducting internationally recognized research in areas such as cell and molecular biology, cancer biology, diabetes and microbiology & immunology.

Program faculty and students also conduct research at hospital-based research Institutes and Centres, including the BC Cancer Research Centre, the Biomedical Research Centre, the Centre for Brain Health, BC Children's Hospital Research Institute, the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics,and the Centre for Macular Research. All of these Institutes and Centres offer highly collaborative research environments and provide outstanding facilities and resources to the ~ 70 graduate students who call the program home.

Given the number of researchers associated with the program and their varied Departmental and Faculty affiliations, the potential range of research topics available to students in the Program is very large.

Minimum level of financial support for M.Sc. and Ph.D. students of $25,000 per year, with top-ups for students who receive scholarships.

Apply Now

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

Program Enquiries

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

Admission Information & Requirements

Program Instructions

Acceptance into the Program is dependent upon a prospective student getting written agreement from a Faculty member that he/she will be their Research Supervisor.

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

22

Speaking

22

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.0

Reading

6.5

Writing

6.5

Speaking

6.5

Listening

6.5

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.

2) Meet Deadlines

January 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
31 January 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 31 August 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 September 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 September 2024
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 31 August 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 September 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 September 2024

May 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
31 May 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 November 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2024
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 November 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2024

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 Cell and Developmental Biology (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.

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

Research Supervisors must commit to supporting you financially during the course of your training. The minimum level of financial support is $25,000 per year, for a minimum of 4 years. As a general rule, financial support continues to the completion of your degree, so long as performance is satisfactory and you remain in good academic standing. Students are expected to pay tuition from their stipend.

Financial support is in the form of a minimum funding package which can be made up from several sources – usually a combination of a Scholarship/Award, a Teaching Assistantship (from teaching duties as a graduate student, to a maximum of two 0.5 TAships per year) and a Research Assistantship (paid from a Supervisor’s research funds). There are no citizenship requirements for Teaching or Research Assistantships.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 29 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 $35,319.
  • 7 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 7 students was $4,297.
  • 29 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 29 students was $24,124.
  • 6 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 6 students was $563.
  • 29 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 29 students was $7,088.
  • 5 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 5 students was $17,133.

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 Estimator

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

Career Outcomes

40 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 graduate is seeking employment; for 4 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 35 graduates:


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
University of British Columbia (6)
New York University
National Tsing Hua University
University of California - San Diego
Western University (Ontario)
Simon Fraser University
Douglas College
University of Bonn
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Duke University Medical Center
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
STEMCELL Technologies (3)
National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health
Lowy Medical Research Institute
Allen Institute for Brain Science
Carl Zeiss Canada Ltd.
Alberta Health Services
Cardiac Services BC
GFY Biotech Consulting
Amgen
TRI
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Director (2)
Consultant
Senior Manager, External R&D and Alliances
Postdoctoral Fellow
Manager
TV Producer
Senior Product Marketing Manager
Account Manager
Senior Associate Scientist
Scientist
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
Disclaimer
This program underwent a name or structural change in the study time frame, and all alumni from the previous program were included in these summaries. 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

Our graduates are well-prepared and highly competitive for the next step in their careers, whether in academia or in other sectors (e.g. biotechnology, health care, government, business, finance) where an in-depth knowledge of modern cell and developmental biology is required.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

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

ENROLMENT DATA

 20232022202120202019
New Registrations31437
Total Enrolment5146404032

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 93% based on 32 students admitted between 2011 - 2014. Based on 28 graduating students from the 2011 - 2014 admissions cohort the minimum time to completion is 1.36 years and the maximum time is 7.17 years with an average of 4.52 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver 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.

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 Cell and Developmental Biology (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 )
  • Allan, Douglas (Nervous system)
  • Auld, Vanessa (Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Zoology; Cell; Cell Biology; Development; Developmental Genetics; epithelia; Genetics; glia; in vivo imaging; Molecular Genetics; nervous system; Neurogenesis and Gliogenesis; permeability barriers)
  • Bamji, Shernaz (Medical and biomedical engineering; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; neurodevelopmental disease; primary neuronal cultures; synapse biology; transgenic mouse models)
  • Beristain, Alexander Guillermo (Healthy Starts; cellular and molecular processes that direct trophoblast cell biology in early placental development; Examining the A Disintegrin And Metalloproteinase (ADAM) family in trophoblast biology; Examining the effects of obesity-associated inflammation on the maternal-fetal interface; Identifying gene expression differences in subpopulations of trophoblasts in normal and pathological pregnancies )
  • 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)
  • Conibear, Elizabeth (Other basic medicine and life sciences; Protein trafficking in cell biology; Molecular genetics; Functional genomics; Membranes; Enzymes and Proteins; Vesicle Trafficking; Molecular Genetics; Neurodegenerative diseases; Protein Palmitoylation; Cell Signaling and Cancer)
  • 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)
  • Dong, Xuesen (Cancer progression and metastasis; Gene and molecular therapy; Prostate Cancer; RNA splicing and Gene Regulation; Drug development; Hormone Dependent Cancers; Endocrine Regulation; Premature Labour)
  • Gold, Michael (understanding cell signaling, morphology, trafficking, and effector function of immune cells and tumour cells)
  • Gordon, Michael (Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Zoology; Chemosensation; Drosophila; Feeding; Gustation; Neural circuits; Neuronal Systems; neuroscience; Sensory systems; Taste)
  • Graf, Daniel (Bone, skin and cartilage science; Cell differentiation, proliferation and death; Developmental genetics (including sex determination); Developmental and degenerative pathologies associated with cartilage, bone, and teeth)
  • Haas, Kurt (Medical and biomedical engineering; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Autism; Brain Circuit Development; Dendritogenesis; Epilepsy; Genetics of Neurological and Psychiatric Diseases; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Neurological diseases; Neuronal Communication and Neurotransmission; Neuronal Computation; Neuronal Modeling; Neuronal Systems; Neuronal and Synaptic Activity; Plasticity / Neuronal Regeneration; Synaptic Plasticity)
  • Hakkinen, Lari (Dentistry and oral health; Cell signaling; Cell therapy; Cell to cell communication; Connective Tissue; Extracellular matrix; Fibroblasts, MSC; Oral mucosa and skin; Tissue regeneration; Wound Healing)
  • Hilton, Brett (Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; neuroscience; neuroplasticity; Axon regeneration; Spinal cord injury)
  • Hoffman, Bradford (Understanding how the genes critical to endocrine pancreas development, as well as ?-cell function and proliferation are regulated is essential for the development of novel strategies for the production of insulin-secreting cells, and for improving the efficacy of available transplantable material. )
  • Hoodless, Pamela (Computational cell biology; Cancer; Genomics; Medical and biomedical engineering; Nucleic acids studies; Developmental Genetics; Embryology; Embryonic Development; Epigenetics; Heart Valve / Valvular Diseases; Heart valve formation; Liver; Liver development; Stem Cells and Organogenesis; transcriptional regulation)
  • Johnson, James (diabetes, hormones, cell biology, signal transduction, apoptosis or programmed cell death, heart failure, heart disease, calcium signalling, pancreatic cancer, obesity, longevity, imaging, Causes of type 1 and type 2 diabetes at a molecular level discovery of genes and associated gene networks linked to diabetes risk and by known risk factors that predispose individuals to diabetes)
  • Kieffer, Tim (Diabetes)
  • Kopp, Janel (Genomics; Modeling cancer; Pancreas; Pancreatic cancer; Pancreatic development)
  • Krentz, Nicole (Human development and organogenesis; Pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences, n.e.c.; Human physiology, n.e.c.; Diabetes; Developmental biology; Genetics)
  • Lange, Philipp (Bioinformatics; Genomics; Pathology (except oral pathology); Cell Signaling and Cancer; mass spectrometry; pediatric cancer; personalized medicine; post translational protein modification; Proteomics)
  • Lansdorp, Peter (Genetic medicine; Application of single cell Strand-seq in precision medicine; Applied Genetics; cellular aging; Cellular Degeneration; Cellular Division; Complex Trait Genetics; DNA replication, epigenetics and stem cells; Gene Regulation and Expression; Genetic Diseases; Stem Cells and Organogenesis; telomeres; Telomeres, genomic instability, aging and cancer)
  • Li, Xin (Molecules in plants, plants defence against pathogen infection, plant genes)

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
2024 Dr. Stephan directed stem cells into liver and studied how the cells changed their identity. She found a specific protein in newly forming liver cells, TBX3, that may be responsible for pushing cells towards using liver genes. Knowing how cells turn into liver cells can be used to produce lab-grown livers replacing conventional organ transplants.
2024 Dr. Ho created an imaging technique to observe real-time communication between blood cells and their microenvironment. He provided fundamental insights of how intercellular signals synchronize blood cell behavior, regulate blood cell production, and maintain blood system homeostasis.
2024 Dr. Parlow investigated how corticosteroid-binding globulin (CBG) regulates the effects of glucocorticoids on development, metabolism, stress, and inflammation. Her findings reveal a novel role for CBG in shaping sex differences in organ development in rats, providing insight into the basis for sex differences in humans.
2024 Dr. Verma has discovered a novel role for the PAN protein complex. Her work demonstrates that targeting this specific protein complex in cancer cells disrupts their ability to divide. Importantly, such intervention may spare normal cells from harm while specifically affecting the cancerous ones.
2024 Dr. Bell investigated the role of the surface glycoprotein, podocalyxin, in breast and pancreatic cancer and showed that the molecule's sugar-rich, extracellular domain contributes to tumour cell collective invasion. This work provides insight into mechanisms of early metastasis and highlights the potential of podocalyxin-targeted therapeutics.
2024 Dr. Tophkhane studied the functional effects of mutations in WNT pathway genes associated with Robinow syndrome using the chicken embryo model. She found that the mutant proteins disturb development of the facial skeleton and cell signaling.
2023 Dr. Lorentzian examined the persistence of therapeutic targets through disease progression in pediatric leukemia using a genomic and proteomic approach. Her research revealed that therapeutic targets are often persistent to relapse and supports the early characterization of drug targets to prepare treatment options in case the child relapses.
2023 Dr. Yoon studied activity-regulated genes that are crucial in both the brain and pancreas for responding to the body's nutrient levels. Her findings showed the important role of a gene in the proper function of brain cells that control appetite and body weight, which highlighted new potential avenues of study for future obesity therapies.
2023 Immune responses are crucial for protection against diseases. Dr. Pournia's research showed an unconventional role for a protein in various cellular processes that are important for development and responses of one of the cells of our immune system. These findings could be important for development and fine tuning of novel therapeutic approaches.
2023 Dr. Wang investigated how YAP1 gene regulates the differentiation of progenitor cells in the pancreas. He provided new evidence that manipulation of YAP1 expression controls pancreatic size and function during embryogenesis. His research shed light on the future development of cell therapy for type 1/2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

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Sample Thesis Submissions

Further Information

Cell and Developmental Biology courses provide a thorough understanding of the scientific fundamentals and methodologies of contemporary cell and developmental biology.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-DU

Classification

 

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 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
31 January 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
31 August 2024
International Applicant Deadline
31 August 2024

May 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
31 May 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
30 November 2024
International Applicant Deadline
30 November 2024
 
Supervisor Search
 

Departments/Programs may update graduate degree program details through the Faculty & Staff portal. To update contact details for application inquiries, please use this form.

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