Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Genetics (PhD)


The UBC Department of Medical Genetics is an inspiring and productive community of scholars of genetics and genomics. It is an outstanding provider of knowledge, technical expertise, and compassionate care for our patients. Faculty members in the Department of Medical Genetics are at the forefront of their fields using cutting edge genetic, epigenetic, genomic, and bioinformatic methodologies to gain insight into diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative and neurological disorders, and other genetic diseases. Research is highly interactive and often involves local, national, and international collaborations which further enrich the research experience.

Individual labs conduct clinical and/or translational research and basic experimental research engaging a wide variety of approaches including the use of model organisms such as mice, flies (D. melanogaster), worms (C. elegans), and yeast (S. cerevisiae).

What makes the program unique?

The mission of the Department of Medical Genetics is to pursue basic and clinical research for diagnosis, prevention and treatment of genetic disease. Our goal is to be a world leader in the research, clinical practice and teaching of Genetic Medicine.

Quick Facts

Doctor of Philosophy
Life Sciences
Mode of delivery
On campus
Registration options
Medical Genetics
Program Components
Faculty of Medicine

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Program Enquiries

If you have reviewed the information on this program page and understand the requirements for this program, you may send an enquiry

Admission Information & Requirements

In order to apply to this program, the following components may be required.

Online Application

All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.


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.

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. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitve process.

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.

Document Requirements

OFFICIAL transcripts and degree certificates. You MUST include a grading key / legend. (Unofficial / web transcripts; and poor-quality scans of transcripts are NOT acceptable.)

Three letters of references.

Personal letter of interest (intent) and a curriculum vitae.


English Language Proficiency

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:



Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Depending on program, applicants either reach out to faculty members directly or the program supports this process in different ways.

Supervisor commitment required prior to application?

Test Scores (GRE / GMAT or similar)

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.

Prerequisites / Course Requirements

Mandatory advanced-level courses in:
•Genetics and/or genomics.

Strongly recommended: advanced-level courses in one or more of the following -
•Molecular Biology
•Biostatistics (Statistics)
•Bioinformatics (i.e. MICB 405 or equivalent)

Other Requirements

Grade Point Average (GPA) – international degrees: Check your COUNTRY of education ( for minimum GPA and length of degree program to determine if your credentials meet UBC admission requirements. GPA calculation is based on the final, overall standing (grade) achieved in the last completed degree. Final standing is determined from your school's grading system.

GPA calculation of Canadian and USA degree programs is based on all upper level courses taken in the most recent, full time degree.

Additional criteria: Applicants must have relevant, independent laboratory research experience.

Citizenship Verification

Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.

Research Information

Research Focus

Research in the Department of Medical Genetics covers the study of human genetics with areas of focus in mammalian development, regulation of gene expression, genetic diseases due to single gene or complex inheritance, birth defects, reproduction, cancer, immunology, genomics, bioinformatics, ethics and population health.

Research in the Department of Medical Genetics covers the study of human genetics with areas of focus in mammalian development, regulation of gene expression, genetic diseases due to single gene or complex inheritance, birth defects, reproduction, cancer, immunology, genomics, bioinformatics, ethics and population health.

Research Areas of Expertise:
• Cancer Genetics & Genomics
• Clinical Genetics, Genetic Counselling, Ethics & Policy
• Developmental Genetics & Birth Defects
• DNA Repair & Genome Stability
• Epigenetics, Epigenomics & Gene Regulation
• Genetic Epidemiology & Population Genetics
• Genomics & Bioinformatics
• Immunogenetics
• Neuroscience & Neurodegenerative Disease Genetics
• Pharmacogenomics
• Proteomics
• Stem Cells & Gene Therapy

Program Components

Medical Genetics Rotation Program: MSc and PhD applicants who have applied for the September-start, and who are highest ranked by the Medical Genetics Admissions Committee, will be offered the opportunity to join the Medical Genetics Rotation Program. The four top-ranked applicants offered these positions will also receive one-year Rotation Program Awards. Rotation Program students rotate through three different laboratories before choosing a final, thesis lab. Rotations are for nine-weeks each, from September to April. The Rotation Program is open to Canadians, Permanent Residents of Canada, and international applicants.

Research Facilities

Medical Genetics graduate student training takes place at multiple state-of-the-art facilities, representing a diverse collection of training environments. These include several centres on the UBC Point Grey Campus (e.g. Life Sciences Centre, Brain Research Centre, Michael Smith Laboratories) and off-campus (e.g Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics,Terry Fox Laboratory at the BC Cancer Agency, etc.). Available research services and facilities include: animal modeling, biobanking, bioanalyzer, bioinformatics, DNA sequencing, flow cytometry, genotyping and gene expression, histology and imaging, transgenic facility, support to perform biostatistics, clinical trials, data management and access to health research and evaluation services.

Application Notes

SEPTEMBER-start applicants (MSc & PhD) may apply for admission before they receive the commitment of a research supervisor. The Medical Genetics Admissions Committee reviews and ranks all applications completed by the deadline. Applicants deemed as 'admissible' will be notified by email and advised that they must finalize the commitment of a supervisor prior to receiving an admissions offer from UBC. Deadline for supervisor commitment is June 1st.

JANUARY-start PhD applicants (there is no January intake for MSc students) must receive the commitment of a research supervisor (email proof of commitment from the proposed supervisor to the Medical Genetics Program Assistant) by the application deadline. Applicants must also meet all the application requirements and be deemed admissible by the Admissions Committee before an offer of admission will be made.

Deadline Details

Application Deadline

Deadline to submit online application. No changes can be made to the application after submission.

Transcript Deadline

Deadline to upload scans of official transcripts through the applicant portal in support of a submitted application. Information for accessing the applicant portal will be provided after submitting an online application for admission.

Referee Deadline

Deadline for the referees identified in the application for admission to submit references. See Letters of Reference for more information.

September 2020 Intake

Application Open Date
01 December 2019
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 February 2020
Transcript Deadline: 01 February 2020
Referee Deadline: 14 February 2020
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 February 2020
Transcript Deadline: 01 February 2020
Referee Deadline: 14 February 2020

January 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
15 March 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 April 2020
Transcript Deadline: 15 April 2020
Referee Deadline: 30 April 2020
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 April 2020
Transcript Deadline: 15 April 2020
Referee Deadline: 30 April 2020

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 December 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 February 2021
Transcript Deadline: 01 February 2021
Referee Deadline: 14 February 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 February 2021
Transcript Deadline: 01 February 2021
Referee Deadline: 14 February 2021

Funding Sources

Stipend Amount and Duration:

The recommended minimum yearly stipend for full time Medical Genetics thesis-based graduate students (Canadian and international) is:

MSc and PhD (pre-advancement to candidacy): $24,300
PhD (post-advancement to candidacy): $27,000

The student pays tuition from their stipend (the cost of tuition depends on whether the student is domestic or international as well as on the time spent in our graduate program). The stipend may come from an independent studentship award and/or from the Research Supervisor's research grant. Admission to the Medical Genetics Graduate Program normally includes a commitment from the Supervisor to ensure that each student is supported to the recommended funding level.  Exceptions to this policy may be granted under unusual circumstances. Financial support from personal resources is not acceptable as “funding” for incoming students in the Medical Genetics Graduate Program.

The duration of the annual stipend is normally two years for an MSc student and four years for a PhD student. After the two-year MSc and four-year PhD point, continued funding is at the discretion of the Supervisor.  The Supervisor should inform their student in writing (with a copy to the Medical Genetics Graduate Program office) at least six months prior to the end-date of the student's stipend.

Funding depends both on satisfactory academic and research progress, as determined by the Student’s Supervisory Committee, and on the Research Supervisor's continued grant support.  Termination of funding for other justifiable reasons must be approved by a majority of the Medical Genetics Graduate Advisory Committee.

University and External Awards:

Medical Genetics Graduate Program students receive funding from many sources; not all students will receive the same amount. Graduate students receive a minimum stipend from their supervisor. Additionally, if a student wins an award, their supervisor will top up their stipend.

See the Medical Genetics website for more information about awards available to eligible registered students:

National Science & Engineering Council (NSERC) & Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR); UBC Affiliated Fellowships; Medical Genetics Four Year Doctoral Fellowship (4YF); International Tuition Award (ITA). Students may also qualify for building-specific and research-specific awards.

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.

We encourage all applicants to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund your 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.

In addition to scholarships and awards, applicants may be eligible to apply for financial aid or other benefits in the form of loans, bursaries, tax credits, or similar.

Career Outcomes

53 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 is in a non-salaried situation; for 4 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 48 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 (9)
Stanford University (2)
University of Toronto (2)
Washington University in St Louis (2)
Babraham Institute
University of Hong Kong
University of Calgary
Duke University
Ulm University
University of Warwick
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
BC Cancer Agency (3)
Hospital for Sick Children (2)
Mayo Clinic
PROOF Centre of Excellence
InSilixa, Inc.
Vancouver Coastal Health
Rick Hansen Institute
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Provincial Health Services Authority
Spectrum Mobile Health
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Postdoctoral Fellow (3)
Scientist (2)
Research Associate (2)
Site Manager
Staff Scientist
Strategic Development Officer
Management Consultant
Director, Co-founder
Associate Project Manager
Senior Product Marketing Manager
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on
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

The PhD program in Medical Genetics is a research-based, thesis-based program which generally takes five to six years to complete. Graduates find employment in the public and private sector, and also pursue further studies in the field of Medical Genetics. Following is a brief sample of occupations that our graduates are pursuing:

  • Academia:
    • Assistant Professor / Associate Clinical Professor, etc.
    • Principal Investigator
    • Canada Research Chair
  • Advanced Training:
    • Post-doctoral Fellow
    • Laboratory Genetics and Genomics Postdoctoral Fellow
    • Fellow of the Canadian College of Medical Genetics
    • Postdoctoral Clinical Laboratory Fellow
    • Diagnostics Laboratory Manager
    • Medical Doctor
  • Industry / Clinical Careers:
    • Clinical Molecular Geneticist and Cytogeneticist
    • Research Program Manager
    • Online Marketing Coordinator
    • Scientific Sales Representative
    • Research and Development Scientist

Alumni on Success

Ryan Yuen

Job Title
The Hospital for Sick Children

Jane Gair

Job Title
Teaching Professor/ Affiliate Professor of Teaching
University of Victoria/ University of British Columbia

Steven Maltby

Job Title
Research Academic
Hunter Medical Research Institute & The University of Newcastle

Obi Griffith

Job Title
Assistant Professor
Washington University School of Medicine

Tuition / Program Costs

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%)
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.

Statistical Data

Enrolment Data

New registrations24414
Total enrolment4237373941

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 100% based on 10 students admitted between 2006 - 2009. Based on 9 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 4.00 years and the maximum time is 8.33 years with an average of 5.92 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 22 March 2019]. 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.

  • Aparicio, Samuel (Breast cancer, genome sequencing )
  • Arbour, Laura (northern and aboriginal health issues as they pertain to genetics)
  • Austin, Jehannine (Genetics, genomics, genetic counseling, psychiatric illness, mental illness, mental health, psychiatry, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, postpartum depression, perinatal mental health, Mood & Anxiety Disorders, Schizophrenia)
  • Birol, Inanc (bioinformatics, computational biology, genomics, transcriptome analysis, next generation sequencing, cancer, Bioinformatics, sequence assembly, transcriptomics, gene regulation networks, high throughput informatics for big data)
  • Brinkman, Ryan (Bioinformatics, flow cytometry, high throughput data analysis, data standars, GvHD biomarker identification, cluster identification)
  • Brooks-Wilson, Angela (human genetics, cancer genetics, cancer families, longevity, Super seniors, genetic susceptibility)
  • Brown, Carolyn Janet (Epigenetic control of gene expression, X-chromosome inactivation, Long non-coding RNAs, XIST RNA, Genes escaping X-chromosome inactivation, DNA methylation)
  • Brunham, Liam (Lipids, Genetics, Pharmacogenomics, Cardiovascular diseases)
  • Burgess, Michael (Public deliberation, Health Policy, Science Policy, Deliberative Democracy)
  • Carleton, Bruce (Pharmacogenomics, Adverse drug reactions (ADRs), Drug safety and effectiveness, Clinical pharmacology, Pharmacovigilance)
  • Clarke, Lorne (Lysosomal storage disease, disorders or sulfate transport, mucopolysaccharidosis, phenylketonuria)
  • Conibear, Elizabeth (Protein Palmitoylation, Vesicle Trafficking)
  • Dennis, Jessica (Genetic epidemiology, Statistical genetics, Precision health, Electronic health records, Administrative health data, Machine learning)
  • Eaves, Constance Jean (Normal and leukemic stem cells, normal and malignant breast stem cells)
  • Friedman, Jan Marshall (Application of whole genome sequencing to diagnose genetic disease, Clinical genomics, Neurofibromatosis, Birth defects epidemiology)
  • Gibson, William (Epigenetics)
  • Goldowitz, Daniel (Genetic basis of brain disease, neurobiology of autism, Huntingtong's gene, mouse/mice epigenetics, gene regulatory network)
  • Hayden, Michael (Huntington disease, Disease progression, Diabetes, Neurodegenerative disorders, Gene therapy, Drug development)
  • Hieter, Philip (Molecular biology of eukaryotic chromosome transmission )
  • Holt, Robert (Immunogenetics, Metagenomics - Infectious agents in Cancer, Cancer Genomes, Neurobiology, DNA Sequencing)
  • Hoodless, Pamela (Embryology, Transcriptional regulation, Epigenetics, Heart valve formation, Liver development)
  • Huntsman, David (hereditary cancer, molecular pathology, cancer biomarkers, Pancreas centre)
  • Jefferies, Wilfred Arthur (Iron transport molecules)
  • Jiang, Xiaoyan (Basic and translational leukemia research, Leukemic stem cell biology , Gene regulation , Drug resistance , Proteomics, Immunotherapy)


Recent Doctoral Citations

  • Dr. Oscar Alejandro Urtatiz Gongora
    "Dr. Urtatiz investigated the process by which pigment cells transform into melanoma, a very aggressive type of cancer. He found that the skin microenvironment plays a crucial role in preventing or promoting the initiation of melanoma. His research provides useful insight to assist the development of new melanoma therapies." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Samantha Barbara Jean Peeters
    "Dr. Peeters validated a transgenic mouse model for studying how human genes on the X chromosome in females are turned on and off throughout development. These studies are important for understanding mechanisms of gene regulation that contribute to differences between males and females." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Chaini Roti Konwar
    "Dr. Konwar focused on understanding inflammation related changes that commonly occur in preterm births. Her research examined molecular changes in placentas from preterm births with and without inflammation. Her findings have laid the groundwork to identify biomarkers that could be detected in maternal blood when the inflammation is present." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Artem Babaian
    "Half of our DNA is self-replicating, "jumping genes" called transposable elements (TEs), a fifth of which are genetic fossils of ancient retroviruses. Dr. Babaian explored how these normally repressed viral genes are resurrected in human cancers, and how this re-activation drives the evolution of novel cancer-promoting genes." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Chaahat S.B. Singh
    "Dr. Singh studied cerebral vessel growth in Alzheimer's disease. She repurposed drugs used in cancer therapy to reduce pathogenic blood vessel formation and improve cognition in mouse models of Alzheimer's. Findings from these studies improve our understanding of how an altered blood vessel growth can contribute to pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease." (May 2019)

Further Program Information


Apply Now

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

September 2020 Intake

Application Open Date
01 December 2019
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 February 2020
International Applicant Deadline
01 February 2020

January 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
15 March 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 April 2020
International Applicant Deadline
15 April 2020

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 December 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 February 2021
International Applicant Deadline
01 February 2021

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