Doctor of Philosophy in Reproductive and Developmental Sciences (PhD)

Overview

The goal of the Graduate Program in Reproductive and Developmental Sciences is to provide students with a broad knowledge of mammalian reproductive and developmental biology, as well as with in depth expertise in at least one area of research, including:

  • reproductive and molecular endocrinology
  • immunology of reproduction
  • maternal adaptations to pregnancy
  • women’s mental health
  • gynecologic cancers
  • prostate cancer
  • fertilization and early embryonic development
  • placental development
  • perinatal metabolism
  • fetal/neonatal physiology and pathophysiology
  • perinatal epidemiology

Other areas of research on human health and disease as it relates to male and female reproduction are also possible, including perinatal and postnatal health topics.

Basic science, clinical or epidemiological research projects are possible.

What makes the program unique?

The RDS program is the only graduate program in Canada that is based in a Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. RDS students thus have the opportunity to interact with both basic science and clinical research faculty, which can lead to the formulation of research projects that address important clinical issues in women (e.g. ovarian cancer, preeclampsia). Moreover, the location of the program in the teaching hospitals in Vancouver facilitates the collection of human samples (e.g. placental or ovarian tissue, sperm and testes tissue) that can be used in thesis research projects.

Program Structure

The PhD program can involve coursework in addition to the manadatory seminar course, but this is not always the case. A comprehensive examination and thesis-based research which produces new research findings, as well as defense of the thesis, are required.

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Program Enquiries

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

Admission Information & Requirements

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

7.0

Writing

7.0

Speaking

7.0

Listening

7.0

Other Test Scores

Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:

The GRE is not required.

Prior degree, course and other requirements

Prior Degree Requirements

Students admitted to the PhD degree program normally possess a master’s degree in biological science or related area, or its academic equivalent (MD, DVM, DDS), with clear evidence of research ability or potential.

2) Meet Deadlines

January 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
07 April 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 25 June 2021
Transcript Deadline: 10 July 2021
Referee Deadline: 10 July 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 04 June 2021
Transcript Deadline: 19 June 2021
Referee Deadline: 19 June 2021

May 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
04 August 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 29 October 2021
Transcript Deadline: 13 November 2021
Referee Deadline: 13 November 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 08 October 2021
Transcript Deadline: 23 October 2021
Referee Deadline: 23 October 2021

September 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
13 October 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 25 February 2022
Transcript Deadline: 12 March 2022
Referee Deadline: 12 March 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 04 February 2022
Transcript Deadline: 19 February 2022
Referee Deadline: 19 February 2022

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 Reproductive and Developmental Sciences (PhD)
All applicants need firm commitment from a supervisor prior to applying.

RDS faculty members are listed on the "Prospective Supervisors" page of the program's website. You will be asked to upload a signed Memo of Acceptance (provided by the program) from your confirmed supervisor with the application.

Citizenship Verification

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

4) Apply Online

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

Research Information

Research Focus

Reproductive and molecular endocrinology, immunology of reproduction, maternal adaptations to pregnancy, women’s mental health, gynecologic cancers, prostate cancer, fertilization and early embryonic development, placental development, perinatal metabolism, fetal/neonatal physiology and pathophysiology, perinatal epidemiology.

Research Facilities

Research activities take place in the BC Women’s Hospital, the main obstetrics and gynaecology hospital in BC, and in one or both of the on-campus research institutes: the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, and the Women’s Health Research Institute. In addition, research may be carried out on the UBC Point Grey campus, at Vancouver General Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital or the BC Cancer Agency. All sites possess modern, well-equipped laboratories for basic science research. There are also facilities for conducting research on human subjects, and for clinical and epidemiological research. Students whose research involves human reproductive biology may have the opportunity to work with clinical members of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. There are also opportunities to collaborate with the BC Support Unit for students whose projects involve patient engagement.

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$108.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,732.53$3,043.77
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,197.59$9,131.31
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$969.17 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,242.00 (check cost calculator)
* Regular, full-time tuition. For on-leave, extension, continuing or part time (if applicable) fees see UBC Calendar.
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Financial Support

Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.

Program Funding Packages

Students in the RDS program have been successful in receiving the Vanier Graduate Scholarship, CIHR doctoral awards, and affiliated awards.

The minimum funding requirement for PhD students is $22,000 per annum, paid by a Graduate Research Assistantship. Students with external awards totalling less than $22,000 must be topped up to at least the minimum funding from their supervisor's grant. 

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 16 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 $20,413.
  • 2 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 2 students was $2,640.
  • 9 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 9 students was $16,205.
  • 15 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 15 students was $5,533.
  • 6 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 6 students was $15,417.

Study Period: Sep 2019 to Aug 2020 - 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

20 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 13 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):


RI (Research-Intensive) Faculty: typically tenure-track faculty positions (equivalent of the North American Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor positions) in PhD-granting institutions
TI (Teaching-Intensive) Faculty: typically full-time faculty positions in colleges or in institutions not granting PhDs, and teaching faculty at PhD-granting institutions
Term Faculty: faculty in term appointments (e.g. sessional lecturers, visiting assistant professors, etc.)
Sample Employers in Higher Education
University of British Columbia (2)
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Chungnam National University
Gachon University
University of Kentucky
University of Texas
Kyung Hee University
University of Chicago
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
BC Cancer Agency (2)
Izumi Municipal Hospital
National Cancer Centre Singapore
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Postdoctoral Fellow
Attending Chief Physician
Scientist
Senior Research Fellow
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
Disclaimer
These data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.
Career Options

The PhD program provides students with the expertise to take up an academic position or a research position in a clinical setting. In addition, for qualified students there is the possibility of completing a MD-PhD degree.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

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

Enrolment Data

 20202019201820172016
Applications49717
Offers15215
New registrations152 3
Total enrolment1618171720

Completion Rates & Times

Based on 6 graduations between 2016 - 2019 the minimum time to completion is 3.66 years and the maximum time is 5.33 years with an average of 4.38 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 22 April 2021]. 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: 29 October 2020].

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.

  • Anglesio, Michael (Human reproduction and development sciences; Cancer of the Reproductive System; Host-Tumour Interaction; Endometriosis; Cancer Diagnosis and Detection; Immunotherapy; animal models of endometriosis and cancer; Cancer prevention; early detection biomarkers; endometriosis associated cancers; gene-expression and transcriptomics; genomics; Immunology; microenvironment; ovarian cancer etiology)
  • Bayrampour Basmenj, Hamideh (Human reproduction and development sciences; Perinatal Period; Drugs and Pregnancy / Breast Feeding; Developmental Outcomes; Maternal Mental Health; Perinatal Anxiety; Pregnancy Outcomes; Prenatal Cannabis Use)
  • Bedaiwy, Mohamed (Other clinical medicine; Endometriosis; Recurrent Pregnancy Loss; Infertility; Minimally Invasive Surgery)
  • 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 )
  • Brotto, Lori (Human reproduction and development sciences; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; mindfulness; Sexual Dysfunctions; sexual desire; sexual dysfunction)
  • Cerri, Ronaldo (Animal and dairy sciences; Animal behaviour; Animal developmental and reproductive biology; Animal physiology; Agricultural Machinery and Technology; Animal Production; Animal Reproduction; Biotechnology and Activity monitors; Dairy cattle reproduction; Endocrine Regulation; Endometrium-conceptus cross communication; Estrous cycle physiology in cattle; Inflammation and stress; Production medicine in dairy cattle)
  • Devlin, Angela (Human nutrition and dietetics; Human reproduction and development sciences; Pathology (except oral pathology); cardiovascular disease; Children; developmental programming; Diabetes; Obesity)
  • Elango, Rajavel (Protein Nutrition, Maternal-Fetal Nutrition, Childhood Malnutrition, Amino Acid Metabolism, Human Nutrition )
  • Flannigan, Ryan (evaluating genetic and molecular mechanisms contributing to non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA))
  • Hanley, Gillian (socioeconomic status as a predictor of maternal mental health prenatally, use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and infant outcomes.)
  • Huntsman, David (Corporate Law; Contracts; Competition Law; legal history)
  • Joseph, K.S. (Pregnancy complications, preterm birth, fetal growth, infant mortality, neonatal)
  • Leung, Peter C (Reproductive and molecular endocrinology )
  • Lisonkova, Sarka (preeclampsia)
  • McAlpine, Jessica (subtypes of ovarian and endometrial cancers, and prevention)
  • Mitchell-Foster, Sheona (Human reproduction and development sciences; Sexually Transmitted Diseases; Cancer of the Reproductive System; Drugs and Pregnancy / Breast Feeding; Global Health and Emerging Diseases; AIDS / HIV; Urban and Rural Planning Policies; cervical cancer screening; culturally safe care; HPV; Indigenous women's health; perinatal substance-use; reproductive health of women living with HIV; reproductive screening in LMIC; rural and remote reproductive care)
  • Money, Deborah (Reproductive Infectious Diseases, Infectious in pregnancy, vaginal microbiome, HPV vaccine, HIV in women, HIV in pregnancy, Perinatal transmission of viral pathogens and infectious etiology of preterm labour)
  • Munro, Sarah (Human reproduction and development sciences; Participatory research; Health Care Technologies; Community Health / Public Health; Health Promotion; Health Policies; Health Care Organization; social determinants of health; Family planning; Perinatal Period; Birth Control; Breast Feeding and Infant Nutrition; Caesarean section; Implementation Science; Knowledge translation; Reproductive and maternal health; Shared decision making)
  • Norman, Wendy (Health equity; Health care effectiveness and outcomes; Fertility and maternal health; Knowledge translation and implementation science in health; Population health interventions; Health services and systems, n.e.c.; Family planning; Health services and policy research; Contraception; Abortion; Population health equity research; Applied public health and population health intervention research; Health professional scope of practice research)
  • Oberlander, Timothy (Population epidemiological studies that characterize neurodevelopmental pathways that reflect risk, resiliency and developmental plasticity)
  • Ranger, Manon (Neurodevelopment; Clinical nursing, secondary (acute care); neurodevelopment; Early-adversity; Biomarkers of early stress exposure; Brain development; pain; Prematurity)
  • Robinson, Wendy (Other basic medicine and life sciences; Medical Genetics; Human Development; Epigenetics; miRNA; Preterm Birth; Placenta; Mosaicism; Fetal Growth; DNA methylation; Sex differences)
  • Roskelley, Calvin (Breast cancer, ovarian cancer )
  • Talhouk, Aline (Human reproduction and development sciences; Computer Science and Statistics; Epidemiology; Bioinformatics; Cancer of the Reproductive System; diagnostic models; Digital health; Machine Learning; personalized medicine; prevention; Privacy)
  • Tomek, Jennifer (Perinatal epidemiology ; Perinatal research methods; Fetal growth restriction; Severe maternal morbidity; Improving the reference charts used to assess fetal growth and maternal weight gain in pregnancy; Evaluating the impact of obstetrical health care policies on maternal and infant health; Developing clinical prediction models for the identification of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes)

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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
2020 Dr. Alotaibi examined the roles of molecular targets in endometriosis cell invasion and nerve growth. He found that protein IL-1 beta enhances invasive capacity of endometriosis and is associated with nerve growth and worse sexual pain reported by patients. His findings suggest a novel therapeutic target for treatment of endometriosis related pain.
2020 Dr. Ennis determined the dietary requirements for amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine in human pregnancy, while comparing findings to current management practices of maternal phenylketonuria patients. These studies will improve dietary recommendations during pregnancy that have the potential to positively impact birth outcomes.
2020 Dr. McClymont examined multiple aspects of HPV vaccination in women living with HIV. She found that while the vaccine has good efficacy, the post-vaccination burden of oncogenic HPV suggests that cervical screening remains important. These findings will inform the World Health Organization's global strategy for eliminating cervical cancer.
2019 Polycystic ovary syndrome, known as PCOS, affects up to 18% of women worldwide. Dr. Cutler examined the impact of nutrition on the metabolic, reproductive and mental health of women. Her findings support the need for more comprehensive treatment options for PCOS.
2019 Dr. Zhao studied the effect of bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) on placental development during pregnancy. He found that BMP2 positively regulates human placental cell invasion and the underlying mechanisms involved, which may inform advances in clinical diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for pregnancy disorders.
2019 Dr. Lee identified splicing mechanisms orchestrating the progression of an aggressive therapy-resistant prostate cancer subtype. Her research pertains to the clinical implications of splicing mechanisms in informing future therapeutic strategies that may be effective in detecting and preventing or mitigating the disease course.
2018 Dr. Li identified gene SRRM4 as a powerful driver and therapeutic target for a special type of drug-resistant prostate cancer. This study provides insights into personalized medicine-based strategies for prostate cancer patients and may guide future development of novel therapeutics for drug-resistant prostate cancer.
2018 Dr. Zhao investiged the role of betacellulin, a unique growth factor, in ovarian cancer proliferation and migration. This research provides new hope in treating this lethal malignancy.
2018 Dr. Khowaja conducted an economic evaluation of the community-level interventions for pre-eclampsia. His research highlights incremental costs to the health system and families. Though substantial investments are being made for technology adoption, he argues that a societal perspective is imperative to inform decisions on resource allocation.
2017 Dr. Hill studied the plasma protein CBG, which is responsible for transporting the stress hormone cortisol. She investigated the impact of DNA variations on CBG protein function, laying the foundation for further clinical investigations. Furthermore, her research revealed that CBG plays a vital role in mediating our bodies' response to inflammation.

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Further Information

Reproductive and Developmental Sciences provides students with a broad knowledge of mammalian reproductive and developmental biology, as well as with in-depth expertise in at least one area of research, including reproductive and molecular endocrinology, immunology of reproduction, fertilization and early embryonic development, perinatal metabolism, and fetal neonatal physiology.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-VU
 

Apply Now

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

January 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
07 April 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
25 June 2021
International Applicant Deadline
04 June 2021

May 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
04 August 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
29 October 2021
International Applicant Deadline
08 October 2021

September 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
13 October 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
25 February 2022
International Applicant Deadline
04 February 2022
 
Supervisor Search
 

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