Doctor of Philosophy in Cell and Developmental Biology (PhD)

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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Program Enquiries

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

Meet a Representative

PhD Funding Opportunities

Date: Wednesday, 31 August 2022
Time: 10:00 to 11:00

Join Dr Julian Dierkes, Associate Dean, Funding and Shane Moore as they talk about funding opportunities for PhD's at UBC. Dr Dierkes will provide an overview of the different awards and scholarships available to incoming PhD students.

This session will cover:

  • Overview of PhD funding at UBC
  • PhD minimum funding guarantee
  • UBC Awards database
  • Advice on writing funding proposals and applications
  • Q&A

Who is this webinar for?

This webinar is for those who are applying to PhD programs at UBC and are interested in learning more about internal and external funding opportunities. 

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 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
31 January 2022
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 31 August 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 September 2022
Referee Deadline: 15 September 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 31 August 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 September 2022
Referee Deadline: 15 September 2022

May 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
31 May 2022
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 November 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2022
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 November 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2022
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2022

September 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
30 September 2022
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 31 March 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 April 2023
Referee Deadline: 15 April 2023
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 31 March 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 April 2023
Referee Deadline: 15 April 2023

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 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$110.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,767.18$3,104.64
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,301.54$9,313.92
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,057.05 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,366.20 (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

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, 27 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 $30,830.
  • 8 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 8 students was $5,288.
  • 25 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 25 students was $20,917.
  • 27 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 27 students was $6,420.
  • 5 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 5 students was $18,767.

Study Period: Sep 2020 to Aug 2021 - 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.

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

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

 20212020201920182017
New registrations43625
Total enrolment4542393733

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 73% based on 11 students admitted between 2008 - 2011. Based on 7 graduations between 2017 - 2020 the minimum time to completion is 4.66 years and the maximum time is 7.00 years with an average of 5.95 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 7 April 2022]. 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: 19 October 2021].

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.

  • 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 (Cell signaling of specific membrane receptors, combining aspects of Cell Biology, Immunology , Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
  • 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)
  • 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; Cell signaling; chicken embryo limb development; Congenital Anomalies; craniofacial development; Developmental biology; Embryonic Development; Evo-Devo; Growth Factors; orofacial clefting; reptilian tooth development)
  • 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)
  • Sugioka, Kenji (Basic medicine and life sciences; Cell division; Animal morphogenesis; Cytoskeletal dynamics)
  • Tanentzapf, Guy (How cell adhesion contributes to muscle function, and stem cell biology)
  • Taubert, Stefan (Genetic medicine; Health counselling; Aging; beta cells; C. elegans; Diabetes; Gene Regulation and Expression; Gene regulation; Genetics of Aging; genomics; Hypoxia; Metabolism; Molecular Genetics; Mouse; stress; Stress and Cancer; Stress responses; Toxin and Toxicant Metabolism; Transcription)
  • Underhill, Michael (Musculoskeletal diseases, transcription factors, growth, cytokines, retinoid signalling pathway in chondrogenesis, osteogenesis, phenotype)
  • Viau, Victor (Understanding the central bases of social- and gender-based differences in stress reactivity)

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
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.
2019 During diabetes, insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells become dysfunctional. Dr. Speckmann explored the role of two activity-regulated genes and showed that both are required for optimal insulin secretion. These findings improve our understanding of normal beta-cell function, with the goal of developing novel therapeutics for diabetes.
2019 Dr. Gignac studied a rare genetic disease called Robinow syndrome that is caused by mutations in the Wingless or WNT signaling pathway. Her work demonstrated how WNT5A and DVL1 genetic mutations disrupt formation of the skeleton. In future, these studies will lead to therapies for WNT diseases in humans such as cancer or bone related disorders.
2019 Dr. Campbell investigated the role of the Trithorax Group (TrxG) protein complexes during pancreas development. She discovered that loss of TrxG epigenetic activity resulted in fewer insulin-producing beta-cells and diabetes. Her research may improve the generation of functional pancreatic beta-cells from stem cells as a potential diabetes therapy.
2019 Dr. Chan studied signaling pathways that control cellular metabolism. He defined the role of specific enzymes that regulate the synthesis of lipids at a transcriptional level. His research builds on our understanding of cellular metabolism and pathways involved in metabolic diseases including obesity and diabetes.
2019 Adult stem cells are a central theme in the rapidly expanding field of regenerative medicine. Dr. Scott has used a genetic marker to characterize a stem cell that is present in all adult tissues and identified a mechanism that allows these cells to remain dormant until they are required for tissue maintenance and repair.
2018 Dr. Gao examined the organization of intracellular organelle membranes at the nanoscale. He showed the mechanism for organizing the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) nanodomains and distinct types of membrane contacts between the ER and mitochondria. His studies may help to address the significance of membrane ultrastructure functioning in human disease.
2018 Dr. Wen characterized autophagy, a cellular clearance process, in the light-detecting rod photoreceptors in the retina. She also examined the therapeutic effect of autophagy modulators on retinitis pigmentsoa, an inherited eye disorder. This research allows greater understanding of autophagy and the mechanisms of retinal degeneration.

Pages

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 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
31 January 2022
Canadian Applicant Deadline
31 August 2022
International Applicant Deadline
31 August 2022

May 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
31 May 2022
Canadian Applicant Deadline
30 November 2022
International Applicant Deadline
30 November 2022

September 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
30 September 2022
Canadian Applicant Deadline
31 March 2023
International Applicant Deadline
31 March 2023
 
Supervisor Search
 

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