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.

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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.

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Tuesday, 21 May 2024 - 9:00am - 1410, Life Sciences Institute, 2350 Health Sciences Mall

Joaquin Henriquez
Characterization and Functional Perturbation of the Adult Dentition of Leopard Gecko

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.

  • Lim, Chinten James (Cancer progression and metastasis; Solid cancer tumours; Hematological tumours; tumour cell biology; mechanisms of drug resistance; integrin cell adhesion and migration; tumour microenvironment; pediatric oncology)
  • Loewen, Christopher (Membranes and Organelles; Lipid Signalling; Lipid Traffic; Membrane Contact Sites; Genetic Networks; Systems Biology; Super Resolution Microscopy; Cell polarity; Endoplasmic Reticulum; Golgi; Membrane Diffusion Barriers; Cell Biology; Autism; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); Cancer Cell Metabolism)
  • Luciani, Dan (Cell metabolism; Cell differentiation, proliferation and death; Organelle function; Other basic medicine and life sciences; Diabetes; Pancreatic beta-cell function and failure; Mitochondrial physiology; Lysosomal physiology; Cell calcium signalling; Cell stress signalling; Mechanisms of cell death; autophagy; Cellular senescence; fluorescence microscopy)
  • Lynn, Francis (Diabetes; ß-cell development; ß-cell biology; Human pluripotent stem cells; CRISPR/Cas; transcriptional regulation)
  • Matsubara, Joanne Aiko (Sensory systems, visual; Cellular interactions (including adhesion, matrix and cell wall); Gene and molecular therapy; Cellular neuroscience; neuroscience; vision; cell and development; cell death pathways; innate immune response; eye disease, retinal degenerations; Alzheimer's disease; neurodegeneration)
  • Matsuuchi, Linda (Natural sciences; Cell Biology; Immunology)
  • Maxwell, Christopher (Cancer; Hereditary Cancer; Cell division; Cell migration; Differentiation; Cell polarity)
  • Mizumoto, Kota (Cell and Developmental Biology)
  • Moore, Edwin D (Cardiovascular )
  • Moritz, Orson (Mechanisms underlying genetically inherited forms of blindness)
  • Moukhles, Hakima (Muscle cells )
  • Murphy, Timothy (Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Autism; brain imaging; depression; Neuronal Systems; stroke)
  • Nabi, Ivan Robert (Medical, health and life sciences; Cancer cell biology; Membrane domains; Organelle contact sites; Super-resolution microscopy; Machine Learning)
  • O'Connor, Timothy (Identification of small molecules that stimulate neurite outgrowth and regeneration Examination of the role of semaphorins during embryonic development)
  • Pante, Nelly (Molecular trafficking pathways within the cell)
  • Plotkin, Steven (Biophysics theory and computation )
  • Pouladi, Mahmoud (Genetic medicine; Fragile X syndrome; Huntington disease; Neurodegenerative diseases)
  • Ramer, Matthew (Pain, Plasticity, Regeneration, Sensory neurons, Sympathetic neurons)
  • Rankin, Catharine (Effects of experience early in development on adult behaviour and the nervous system, adult learning and memory)
  • Raymond, Lynn (Huntington's Disease)
  • Richman, Joy Marion (Dentistry and oral health; Evolution of developmental systems; Pedodontics; Congenital Anomalies; craniofacial development; chicken embryo limb development; Developmental biology; Embryonic Development; Evo-Devo; Growth Factors; orofacial clefting; reptilian tooth development; Cell signaling)
  • Rideout, Elizabeth (Sex differences; Metabolism; Cell Signaling Pathways; Development; Lifespan and Aging; Stress responses; Drosophila melanogaster)
  • Roskelley, Calvin (Breast cancer, ovarian cancer )
  • Samuels, Anne Lacey (Plant biology; plant cell biology; plant cell walls)

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
2021 Dr. He studied cell divisions that occur in the mammary gland. This research indicates a new and crucial role for the breast cancer gene, BRCA1, and suggests new ways to detect and possibly treat hereditary breast cancers that arise in young women.
2021 Dr. Millington studied sex differences in nutrient-dependent growth using flies as a model. He found that sex-biased changes to insulin signaling in response to nutrients controls male-female differences in growth. As insulin is highly conserved, these results inform our understanding of the sex-biased incidence of metabolic diseases in humans.
2021 Dr. Adams showed that preturbing the machinery necessary for moving calcium and lipids between different components of cells in the testis results in the dysregulation of mammalian sperm release. His work has substantially added to the knowledge of sperm release mechanisms and has provided insight into infertility disorders in men.
2020 Dr. Leung examined candidate obesity and diabetes genes, and found that reducing the amount of one gene, called Pdk1, affects lipid metabolism and the heart. Further, this research shows that the metabolic effects of Pdk1, as well as environmental factors, are important to consider when using inhibitors of this gene as a potential therapeutic.
2020 Dr. Round examined the interaction between non-steroidal molecules and sex hormone-binding globulin. He showed that this interaction has the ability to modulate testosterone levels in circulation, and may be pharmaceutically useful for testosterone replacement therapy.
2020 Dr. Toselli studied pancreatic beta-cell development and regeneration. She created a new model to study and track beta-cells and discovered important cues for beta-cell development and regeneration. Her work gives us a better understanding of pancreas biology and renewal.
2019 Dr. Sriram studied structures termed tubulobulbar complexes, which are involved in removing cell-to-cell attachments during sperm development in the mammalian testis. She developed methods in culture and in vivo to test the hypothesis that these complexes are involved in the movement of the next generation of sperm cells within the testis.
2019 Dr. Pisio created a system to determine if mutations in cancer causing genes found in patients were problematic or part of natural variation. This was done by inserting human genes into fruit flies and studying their effect on known signaling pathways.
2019 Dr. Vent-Schmidt studied an inherited, blinding eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. It has no cure. Her work in animal models showed that knowing the genetic cause of this condition is vital for a class of drugs. Findings suggest that future clinical trials for retinitis pigmentosa should consider genetic testing on patients.
2019 Dr. Kwon examined insulin independent ways to lower blood sugar in order to find new therapies for diabetes. She found that the hormone leptin lowers blood sugar by remodeling metabolic pathways in the liver and discovered a small molecule, which mimics leptin. These results indicate that leptin or its mimetic may be a useful therapy for diabetes.

Pages

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.
 

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
 

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