All Terry Fox Laboratory faculty have cross-appointments in various Departments of the University of British Columbia and have built an international reputation for standards of excellence in research and training. Previous trainees now hold appointments at the Universities and biotech companies. This reflects a tradition of selecting superior students who are, themselves, equally committed to the pursuit of a career of scientific discovery and contribution to advances in patient care and the commercialization of new reagents and devices.
Faculty within the Terry Fox laboratory are affiliated with various academic departments at the University of British Columbia and have trained ~150 graduate students. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Science (MSc) degrees can be pursued through UBC in Medical Genetics, Interdisciplinary Oncology, Experimental Medicine, Cell & Developmental Biology, Bioinformatics, Genome Science & Technology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine as well as through the newly formed School of Biomedical Engineering. The program chosen depends on interests of the student and the UBC affiliations of their supervisor.
Each student’s course selection is decided upon by the student and the supervisor together with the student’s thesis advisory committee and is tailored to the student’s planned research area and course requirements of the graduate program. Formal course work is usually completed during the first year of study, followed by a comprehensive examination, for PhD candidates, in the specific discipline being pursued. Students can then devote their full attention to research.
Students with a first class honours (or equivalent) BSc degree may register directly in a Doctoral program. Students registering in a Masters program are encouraged to transfer directly into a Doctoral program after one year if their course work is of sufficient standard and if transfer is approved by their thesis advisory committee.
Given the Terry Fox Laboratory’s translational activities as well as a strong foundation in basic research relevant to cancer, individuals with an interest or background in medicine can also pursue MSc or PhD degrees, including applicants interested in the combined MD/PhD program.
Attendance and participation in seminars and scientific meetings are an integral part of the student’s training program. Mastery in oral presentation and a broad experience in modern molecular and cellular techniques are major benefits of training in a large interdisciplinary setting.
To facilitate this, students and postdoctoral fellows present their research once a year in a weekly Work-in-Progress seminar within the Terry Fox Laboratory, and often in other seminar series, depending on the graduate program. In addition, a seminar course is part of the academic requirements of most graduate programs.
Students also play an active role in various small journal clubs and group meetings. Opportunities exist to attend many seminars by outstanding scientific visitors to Vancouver, including a weekly seminar series on cancer-related basic and clinical research topics.
More advanced students are also encouraged to attend and expected to present their own findings at international scientific meetings for which financial support is available.
Graduate students accepted for training in the Terry Fox Laboratory receive an annual stipend which could come from a combination of independent Studentship awards (eg. from UBC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research – CIHR, or the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council – NSERC), the supervisor’s research grant, or partial teaching assistantships. MSc students are normally supported for up to two years, and PhD students for up to 5 years, assuming satisfactory progress in the training program. Individuals with MDs who are pursuing PhD degrees are generally supported at a higher level, depending on their previous extent of training.
Postdoctoral training (not leading to a further degree) is available at both the post-PhD and post-MD level. Typically such training is for 2-3 years. The TFL is a highly sought research environment for postdoctoral fellows and has trained nearly 250 such fellows from around the world.
Individuals with MDs are encouraged to enroll in PhD programs if they have not already completed such a degree.
A limited number of grant-funded positions also exist for post-doctoral fellows, both post-PhD and post-MD.
Interested individuals may apply by sending a curriculum vitae and names/contact information of two references via email to the faculty member with whom the applicant would like to work. General applications to the TFL and all other inquiries should be sent to Alice Chau: AChau@bccancer.bc.ca.
Undergraduate / Exchange Studies
A variety of other training opportunities exist for individuals wishing to gain experience in the TFL research environment.
Further inquiries about any of these programs can be obtained by writing or phoning the TFL directly
Students enrolled in university co-op programs such as those at University of British Columbia, University of Victoria or Simon Fraser University may apply to undertake a work term in the Terry Fox Laboratory. These are usually decided in early January for May (Summer), May for September (Fall) and September for January (Spring).
A limited number of summer positions for undergraduate students are usually available. Most of these are dependent on the receipt by the candidate of a competitive summer Studentship funded by the BC Cancer Foundation, the UBC Faculty of Medicine or NSERC. Students should check with the different agencies for eligibility and deadlines (typically December or January).
It is also possible for advanced undergraduate students at UBC to do a directed studies project or honours thesis during the academic year (eg. Medical Genetics 448) under the supervision of TFL faculty.
Visiting Student Programs
Opportunities exist for undergraduate or graduate students from foreign or other domestic institutions to undertake short-term internships or research projects within the TFL. Such students are typically funded by grants or fellowships from their home country or institution.
Opportunities for Recent Graduates
Occasional short-term (6-12 month) opportunities are also available for students who have recently completed their undergraduate degree or MSc degree, and who wish further experience in laboratory research.
Ryan Brinkman’s research is focused on developing and applying flow cytometry bioinformatics approaches to advance our understanding of human health and disease. His early work centered on creating data standards and a free, open source computational infrastructure to support high throughput computational statistical analysis of flow cytometry data.
Dr. Florian Kuchenbauer received his M.D. education at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany in 2001 and completed an M.D. thesis at the Max-Planck-Institute for Psychiatry in 2002. He then started residency training at the Department of Hematology/Oncology, Klinikum Grosshadern, Munich, Germany (2001-2004) before obtaining a PhD degree at the Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer and Department of Experimental Medicine, University of British Columbia under the supervision of Dr. Keith Humphries (2005-2009).
Dr. Andrew Weng attended Stanford University for his undergraduate studies in Biological Sciences and then obtained his MD and PhD degrees at the University of Chicago/Pritzker School of Medicine. He did his clinical residency training in Anatomic Pathology with a fellowship in hematopathology, followed by four years of postdoctoral research training at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.
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