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Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Simon Fraser University Calendar | Spring 2018

Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Doctor of Philosophy

This program provides advanced education and research training for a career in academia, industry, or the public sector, and emphasizes a research apprenticeship in combination with relevant course work. Students learn from and collaborate with researchers from a range of disciplines related to molecular biology and biochemistry (MBB). The program will be of interest to those wishing to use cutting edge laboratory and/or computational approaches to address research problems in biology, biochemistry or biomedical disciplines.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must satisfy the University admission requirements as stated in Graduate General Regulations 1.3 in the SFU Calendar. Students who possess a master of science (MSc) degree may apply to the molecular biology and biochemistry graduate program committee to be admitted to the doctor of philosophy (PhD) program. Exceptional students who have a bachelor of science (BSc) degree and relevant research experience may also be considered for entry. Applicants must have identified a senior supervisor who is willing to consider their application. Applicants should contact faculty members directly to discuss their research interests and confirm the availability of funding and space in their research group. Only students having identified a proposed senior supervisor will be considered for program admission.

Program Requirements

This program consists of required courses, elective courses, and a thesis.

Entry with an MSc Degree

Students must complete

MBB 801 - Student Seminar in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry I (3) *

Discussion of recent literature through student seminars and written reports. Introduction to professional skills for scientific careers.

and a candidacy examination

MBB 806 - PhD Graduate Research Candidacy Examination (3) **

Oral presentation and defense of a written PhD research proposal. Students will be examined on their knowledge relevant to the proposed research, capacity to complete the proposed thesis research (including any relevant preliminary results), and understanding of the broader field of study. All PhD students enrolled in the MBB PhD graduate program must take MBB 806. Prerequisite: Permission of the student's supervisory committee.

and a thesis

* This course can be replaced by an appropriate graduate course or colloquia if completed previously.

** Must be taken no later than the 5th term of program enrollment.

Entry with a BSc or equivalent

Students who enter the program with a bachelor of science (BSc) degree, or equivalent, are required to complete a minimum of 18 units of course work. At least 15 units must be from graduate courses.

Students must complete

MBB 801 - Student Seminar in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry I (3)

Discussion of recent literature through student seminars and written reports. Introduction to professional skills for scientific careers.

and one unit of MBB colloquia by completing one of

MBB 821 - Cell and Molecular Biology Colloquium (1)

Recent research articles on the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular activities will be presented and discussed by students and faculty, with an emphasis on critically analyzing concepts, experimental design, and methodology. A student may not take more than 3 units of colloquia for credit. Prerequisite: BISC 331/MBB 331 or equivalent.

MBB 841 - Genomics and Bioinformatics Colloquium (1)

Recent research articles on modern genomic techniques will be presented and discussed by students and faculty, with an emphasis on critical analysis of the concepts, experimental design, technologies and the practical application of bioinformatics algorithms. A student may not take more than 3 units of colloquia. Prerequisite: It is recommended that students have previously taken one introductory computer-programming course (e.g. CMPT 102, 110, 120, 130 or equivalent) and one introductory statistics course (e.g. STAT 201, 270 or equivalent); or permission of the instructor.

MBB 861 - Biomolecular Structure and Function Colloquium (1)

Recent research articles on the structure, function, and interactions of macromolecules including proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids, as well as their complexes, will be presented and discussed by students and faculty, with an emphasis on critical analysis of the concepts and experimental design and methods. Prerequisite: BISC 331/MBB 331 or equivalent.

and an additional 11 elective units (at least eight units must be from graduate courses)*

and a candidacy examination

MBB 806 - PhD Graduate Research Candidacy Examination (3) **

Oral presentation and defense of a written PhD research proposal. Students will be examined on their knowledge relevant to the proposed research, capacity to complete the proposed thesis research (including any relevant preliminary results), and understanding of the broader field of study. All PhD students enrolled in the MBB PhD graduate program must take MBB 806. Prerequisite: Permission of the student's supervisory committee.

and a thesis

*The elective units are chosen in consultation with the supervisory committee and can include appropriate courses from MBB and/or other departments. Two of these 11 units can come from colloquia and/or journal clubs, with journal clubs being completed as one-unit directed readings courses.

** Must be taken no later than the 5th term of program enrollment.

Research Seminar Series and Journal Clubs

Students are expected to attend the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry research seminar series and participate regularly in a journal club. Journal clubs are discussion groups that focus on the current research literature, and can be in the form of the MBB colloquia, or informal groups consisting of the members of one or more research laboratories.

Thesis

The emphasis of the program is on original research. An original thesis contributing to new knowledge is presented and defended according to the Graduate General Regulations. The defence includes a public seminar on the contents of the thesis.

Program Length

Students are expected to complete the program requirements in 12 to 15 terms.

Other Information

Interdisciplinary Oncology Graduate Specialization (IOGS)

This specialization is for students who are interested in gaining exposure to diverse facets of cancer-related research. Application to the program is through the Interdisciplinary Oncology Steering Committee. The major portion of the PhD specialization program will be devoted to original research. An original thesis which contributes to new knowledge must be presented and defended at the end of the degree program in accordance with SFU Graduate General Regulations. In addition, all MBB PhD candidates must present a public seminar on their research.

The PhD requirements for this specialization are as follows:

Entry with an MSc Degree

Students must complete all of

MBB 801 - Student Seminar in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry I (3) *

Discussion of recent literature through student seminars and written reports. Introduction to professional skills for scientific careers.

ONC 502 - Concepts in Oncology (3)

This course covers the biology and epidemiology of cancer and theories behind prevention, diagnosis and treatment of different types of cancer. A major goal of the course is to integrate knowledge and research on the biology of cancer with all disciplines in oncology. This course can only be taken once, either during an MSc or during a PhD. Prerequisite: Enrollment in a participating graduate program. No specific courses are prerequisites.

ONC 510 - Seminars in Oncology (3)

This course features cancer-related research by trainees and faculty at the BC Cancer Research Centre. Topics include recent developments in the molecular basis of oncogenesis, cancer bioinformatics, cancer epidemiology, cancer treatment and other clinical studies, and ethical issues. Students are required to present seminars on their research. Students undertaking the Interdisciplinary Oncology Graduate Specialization must enroll in this course throughout their entire time as a graduate student. This course can be taken twice, if a student does the Interdisciplinary Oncology Graduate Specialization (IOGS) as an MSc student, and also does it as a PhD student. Students who transfer from MSc to PhD would only take it once. Prerequisite: Enrollment in a participating graduate program. No specific courses are prerequisites.

and a candidacy examination

MBB 806 - PhD Graduate Research Candidacy Examination (3) **

Oral presentation and defense of a written PhD research proposal. Students will be examined on their knowledge relevant to the proposed research, capacity to complete the proposed thesis research (including any relevant preliminary results), and understanding of the broader field of study. All PhD students enrolled in the MBB PhD graduate program must take MBB 806. Prerequisite: Permission of the student's supervisory committee.

and a thesis

If a student has already completed the specialization as an MSc student, they may still enroll in the IOGS as a PhD student upon approval by the IOGS steering committee. Note that in this circumstance, ONC 510-3 must be taken for credit again in the PhD program, but ONC 502-3 cannot be taken again for credit.

* If MBB 801 has already been completed, then a minimum of three courses are required, i.e. ONC 502, ONC 510, and MBB 806.

** Must be taken no later than the 5th term of program enrollment.

Entry with a BSc or equivalent

Students must complete all of

MBB 801 - Student Seminar in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry I (3)

Discussion of recent literature through student seminars and written reports. Introduction to professional skills for scientific careers.

ONC 502 - Concepts in Oncology (3)

This course covers the biology and epidemiology of cancer and theories behind prevention, diagnosis and treatment of different types of cancer. A major goal of the course is to integrate knowledge and research on the biology of cancer with all disciplines in oncology. This course can only be taken once, either during an MSc or during a PhD. Prerequisite: Enrollment in a participating graduate program. No specific courses are prerequisites.

ONC 510 - Seminars in Oncology (3)

This course features cancer-related research by trainees and faculty at the BC Cancer Research Centre. Topics include recent developments in the molecular basis of oncogenesis, cancer bioinformatics, cancer epidemiology, cancer treatment and other clinical studies, and ethical issues. Students are required to present seminars on their research. Students undertaking the Interdisciplinary Oncology Graduate Specialization must enroll in this course throughout their entire time as a graduate student. This course can be taken twice, if a student does the Interdisciplinary Oncology Graduate Specialization (IOGS) as an MSc student, and also does it as a PhD student. Students who transfer from MSc to PhD would only take it once. Prerequisite: Enrollment in a participating graduate program. No specific courses are prerequisites.

and one unit of MBB colloquia by completing one of

MBB 821 - Cell and Molecular Biology Colloquium (1)

Recent research articles on the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular activities will be presented and discussed by students and faculty, with an emphasis on critically analyzing concepts, experimental design, and methodology. A student may not take more than 3 units of colloquia for credit. Prerequisite: BISC 331/MBB 331 or equivalent.

MBB 841 - Genomics and Bioinformatics Colloquium (1)

Recent research articles on modern genomic techniques will be presented and discussed by students and faculty, with an emphasis on critical analysis of the concepts, experimental design, technologies and the practical application of bioinformatics algorithms. A student may not take more than 3 units of colloquia. Prerequisite: It is recommended that students have previously taken one introductory computer-programming course (e.g. CMPT 102, 110, 120, 130 or equivalent) and one introductory statistics course (e.g. STAT 201, 270 or equivalent); or permission of the instructor.

MBB 861 - Biomolecular Structure and Function Colloquium (1)

Recent research articles on the structure, function, and interactions of macromolecules including proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids, as well as their complexes, will be presented and discussed by students and faculty, with an emphasis on critical analysis of the concepts and experimental design and methods. Prerequisite: BISC 331/MBB 331 or equivalent.

and at least two of the following elective courses*

BISC 834 - Essential Cell Biology (3)

Review of basic processes in cell biology including, but not limited to, cell adhesion/migration, cytoskeleton, endo/exocytosis, intracellular trafficking, signal transduction, ion homeostasis, energy generation, protein processing/apoptosis, post-translation modifications, genomics. A review of each topic will be followed by an introduction to cutting-edge work in this field. Prerequisite: Permission of the course co-ordinator.

BPK 851 - Recent Advances in Experimental Carcinogenesis (3)

This class will integrate current knowledge on the process of carcinogenesis in tissues in which cancer commonly occurs in North America. Discussions will focus on new techniques being developed to identify individuals at risk for cancer and new approaches being used to intervene to prevent development of the disease. Prerequisite: BPK (or KIN) 431.

HSCI 775 - Seminar in Molecular Mechanisms of Epigenetics (3)

Discussion of novel and advanced topics in chemical covalent modifications of chromatin that influence gene regulation. Prerequisite: MBB 331 or permission from the instructor.

HSCI 776 - Seminar in Molecular Basis of Drug Action and Environmental Exposure (3)

Topics in molecular biology-based research into pathologies of disease related to drug and environmental exposures will be discussed. Focus on systems pharmacology and the molecular determinants of drug and toxicant action as they relate to gene expression and signal transduction. Prerequisite: HSCI 323, MBB 331, or permission of the instructor.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Timothy Beischlag
Fr 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
BLU 9920, Burnaby
HSCI 778 - Seminar in Molecular Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases (3)

Application of modern molecular methods to epidemiological questions. Globally-relevant and emerging infectious diseases will be highlighted. The course will emphasize critical review of the current literature in the field. Prerequisite: BISC 303, 330, MBB 331, or permission from the instructor.

MBB 746 - Cell Death and Cell Survival (3)

An examination of various types of cell death and cell survival mechanisms and their relationship to disease with a focus on cancer and therapeutic strategies.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Sharon Gorski
We, Fr 8:30 AM – 10:20 AM
EDB 7618, Burnaby
MBB 762 - Human Genomics (3)

The organization of the human genome and the role of genomic variation in health and disease. Genomics and personalized medicine; intellectual property and privacy issues.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Robert Holt
Tu, Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
WMC 3210, Burnaby
ONC 548 - Rotation in Oncology (3)

This course allows students to gain hands-on experience by rotations through specialty laboratories and/or by shadowing clinicians. Students can use the rotation opportunity to learn new techniques and or gain an understanding of the clinical aspects of their research project. The supervisor and supervisory committee create a custom rotation plan for the student. A grade is assigned based on a written report by the student, which is evaluated by the student's supervisory committee. This course can only be taken once, either during an MSc or during a PhD. Prerequisite: Enrollment in a participating graduate program. No specific courses are prerequisites. Permission from instructor required.

and a candidacy examination

MBB 806 - PhD Graduate Research Candidacy Examination (3) **

Oral presentation and defense of a written PhD research proposal. Students will be examined on their knowledge relevant to the proposed research, capacity to complete the proposed thesis research (including any relevant preliminary results), and understanding of the broader field of study. All PhD students enrolled in the MBB PhD graduate program must take MBB 806. Prerequisite: Permission of the student's supervisory committee.

and a thesis

*Any relevant special topics course from any department may be included upon permission of the IOGS steering committee. Oncology related courses at other institutions may also be used to satisfy the elective requirement. Please consult with the IOGS steering committee for queries regarding course eligibility.

** Must be taken no later than the 5th term of program enrollment.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.