Computational Biology Molecular Genetics PhD Program

Mar 1, 2014

Research in molecular genetics is increasingly driven by data and technology.  Students trained in computer science, physics, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, engineering, and other quantitative disciplines are having a major impact on biology - and are increasingly in demand.

Quantitative Biologists apply quantitative scientific methods with origins from physics, math or computer science to address biological research questions. Examples include:

an example of an interaction mapinteraction map of proteins in a cell

  • mathematical modeling of a biological process
  • using computational methods to analyze genomics data
  • physics-based modeling of a cell
  • statistical analysis of large-scale biological data sets

We recognize that translating quantitative training into biology can be challenging. Hence, QBMG is designed to ensure that students with quantitative training can reach their goals and use their highly valued skills to solve fundamental problems in biology.  We provide a welcoming environment for students with diverse quantitative backgrounds and provide them with the tools and mentorship needed to succeed in high-pace cutting-edge interdisciplinary fields.  


Admission requirements*:

  • a Bachelor’s degree in a quantitative science.
  • an undergraduate average of A- or higher (or equivalent).
  • Completion of the online application form, indicating “QBMG” in the “Proposed Area of Study” in the “Areas of Study” sections.
  • research experience - wet or dry, biological or non-biological.
  • at least two letters of reference.
  • a letter of intent (be sure to explain your interest in the QBMG track).
  • a successful interview 

*International applicants may need to provide additional materials in support of their application 

All successful QBMG applicants will be admitted directly into the Ph.D. program.


Preparing you for success in the biological sciences:

The QBMG PhD curriculum will include the existing Molecular Genetics framework in terms of seminars,didactic topics, and the structure of committees and exams. It also includes the Genetics Rapid Immersion Program (GRIP) that is designed specifically for our QBMG PhD students to provide them with basic training in molecular genetics.


QBMG Curriculum:

  • Background reading/study - Once accepted into the QBMG track, students will be assigned reading and study to be carried out over the summer preceding their arrival in our program. It is expected that QBMG students will be highly self-motivated and will carry out substantial study prior to commencing graduate studies in the Department.
  • The Genetics Rapid Immersion Program (GRIP):  Also over the summer preceding formal entry, QBMG students will gain background and hands-on experience with a variety of ‘wet lab’ techniques within the broad field of molecular genetics. 
  • Topics in Molecular Biology, Genomics, and Computational Biology:  In the Fall of the first year, students will be exposed to diverse current research topics relevant to quantitative biology.
  • Foundational course in molecular biology:  In the Fall of their second year, all QBMG graduate students who have not taken an equivalent course as part of their Bachelor’s degree will audit or formally enroll in MGY311, our undergraduate foundations course in molecular biology.
  • Rotations: Students will undertake three five-week rotations within any Molecular Genetics laboratory. Rotations will take place in the first fall semester and students will join their thesis lab in January.
  • Thesis topic: Students will have the opportunity to choose any thesis topic within the many fields of study represented in the department.
  • Socializing: Annual retreats, and other social and scientific events aimed at promoting communication and scientific exchange between QBMG students and other Molecular Genetics students at all stages of their Ph.D. training.


To learn more about our faculty members, application deadlines and how to become a PhD student in our department, please visit:

Program Coordinator: Professor Tim Hughes -