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The mission of MBB is to develop a dynamic program of research and education in the molecular life sciences that compares with the best both in Canada and internationally.

The Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry began operating in 2000.  Previously a SFU Institute, it is noted for producing a significant number of prominent industry leaders and researchers.

Since becoming a department MBB has rapidly expanded in student enrollment, numbers of majors, faculty, scale of research operations and funding. MBB has 15 research faculty, 26 associate faculty members, 8 adjunct faculty members, 4 teaching faculty, approximately 500 undergraduates and 90 graduate students.

The MBB major provides flexibility for students to tailor their degree to suit their interests and goals. Students interested in research have the option of enrolling in a semester of research intensive course work leading to an honors degree that is excellent preparation for post-graduate studies. Advanced courses are designed to develop skills in critical thinking, data analysis, and communication.

Many MBB students take advantage of our very active co-op program, spending several semesters getting paid on-the-job experience related to their studies. Innovative programs such as the MBB and Business Administration program and MBB and Computer Science program provide education pertinent to development and administration in emergent biotechnology enterprises. Completion of a B.Sc. in MBB meets all of the science requirements for entry into medical school and a broad range of graduate programs.

Research activities in MBB are focused on:
  • High Throughput Biology Research areas include cancer genomics, personalized medicine, comparative analyses, model organism, and microbial genomics and bioinformatics. Integrated genomics, bioinformatics, and systems biology approaches are developed and used. Several MBB faculty have joint appointments at the renowned Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre.
  • Cell and Development Biology Molecular genetic approaches are applied to the cell and developmental biology of model systems. Our interests cover a broad range of topics, including signal transduction, cilia, morphogenesis, cell death and autophagy, cytoskeleton, gene expression, cell division and polarity.
  • Structural Biochemistry X-ray crystallography, electron cryomicroscopy, computational modeling and proteomics tools are used to investigate bacterial secretion and pilus assembly systems, viral proteases and eukaryotic proteins involved in programmed cell death.
  • Nucleic acid function Biochemical, spectroscopic, and electrochemical methods are used to investigate the fundamental properties of DNA and RNA. Catalytic RNAs and DNAs are a major interest, as is the biology of newly discovered non-coding RNAs; DNA- and RNA- based biochemical switches and probes; biosensors for disease marker detection, and the use of DNA in electronic nano-circuitry.
  • Immunology Research mainly focuses on understanding how the immune system responds to infection by human immunodeficiency virus and selected bacterial pathogens, and how it causes the rejection of transplanted organs. Studies routinely utilize molecular, biochemical, cell culture, and animal models.


Our graduate program provides an advanced education for a career in research. We offer a MSc and PhD degree program.  Students have the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from a wide range of disciplines. Our graduate program emphasizes research apprenticeship in combination with course work.

The department is located in the South Science Building which provides many supporting facilities for research.