Computational Biology Molecular Genetics PhD Track

Biology needs more computational researchers!

Molecular genetics is increasingly driven by data and technology. The availability and continuing generation of large-scale datasets and data analysis has created a high demand for researchers with advanced computational skills who also have a strong grasp on molecular biology.

an example of a cellular network

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

  • interaction 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

The CBMG track aims to provide students with an immersive computational biology education. Students are admitted to the Molecular Genetics PhD program and are provided opportunities and courses specific to their discipline to maximize their training potential.

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. 

CBMG Curriculum

  • Guided reading:  Once accepted into the CBMG 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 CBMG students will be highly self-motivated and will carry out substantial study prior to commencing graduate studies in the Department.
  • Summer computational biology research experience:  Also preceding formal entry, CBMG students will be placed in a research lab (a paid position) to gain background and hands-on experience in computational molecular genetics.
  • 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.
  • Molecular Biology, Genomics, & Computational Biology: In the Fall of the first year, students will be exposed to diverse current research topics relevant to quantitative biology through a course organized by Professor Tim Hughes.
  • Graduate Computational Biology:  In the Winter of the first year, students will take a more intensive hands-on course in computational biology, organized by Professors Fritz Roth and Quaid Morris.
  • Thesis topic: Students will have the opportunity to choose any thesis topic within the many fields of study represented in the department. Most labs rely on genomic and computational technologies in some way, and for many it is their primary focus.
  • Socializing: Annual retreats, and other social and scientific events aimed at promoting communication and scientific exchange between CBMG students and other Molecular Genetics students at all stages of their Ph.D. training.


Admission requirements*

  • A Bachelor’s degree in life sciences or quantitative disciplines (physics, math/stats, computer science, chemistry or engineering).
  • An undergraduate average of A- or higher (or equivalent).
  • Evidence of comfort and ease with computer programming, e.g. academic excellence in multiple computer courses, computational research, programming through employment or extracurricular activities.
  • Academic excellence in two or more quantitative subjects: calculus, linear algebra, probability/statistics or other math or quantitative courses.
  • Research experience outside the classroom — wet or dry, biological or non-biological. This includes summer studentships, a lab job that involves working on scientic problems and most fourth-year honours projects.
  • Completion of the online application form, indicating “CBMG” in the “Proposed Area of Study” in the “Areas of Study” sections.   
  • At least two letters of reference.
  • A letter of intent (be sure to explain your interest in the CBMG program).
  • A successful interview.

*International applicants may need to provide additional materials in support of their application. For more details see:

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

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


CBMG Co-ordinators:

Professor Tim Hughes
Rm 1302, Donnelly Centre, 160 College st., M5S 3E1.

Professor Fritz Roth
Rm 1010, Donnelly Centre.

Professor Hannes Röst
Rm 604, Donnelly Centre.