Medical Biophysics

Program Overview

The Department of Medical Biophysics is an interdisciplinary department with a strong history of excellence and discovery in cancer research, treatment, and beyond. Located primarily at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Research Institute, and SickKids Research Institute, the department offers research training leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The multidisciplinary program in cancer research and broader biomedical research cuts across the conventional boundaries of biology, physics, translational medicine and engineering to deliver a modern, advanced academic curriculum and world-class research training.

Projects span the following areas: Cell Biology and Cancer Modeling, Cell Signalling and Metabolism, Computational Cancer Genomics, Epigenetics and Proteomics, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Macromolecular Structure and Crystallography, Tumour Microenvironment and Immunology, Stem Cells, Neuroscience, Cardiology, Radiation Biology and Physics, Clinical Cancer Management and Predictive Oncology, MR Spectroscopy and Imaging, Physics and Engineering of Pre-clinical and Clinical Imaging, Ultrasound, X-ray and CT Imaging, Advanced Optical and Electron Microscopies, Biophotonics and Biomedical Optics, Nanotechnology,​ and Nanomedicine.​

Students may also be interested in the combined degree program in Medicine, Doctor of / Doctor of Philosophy (MD/PhD).

See video: Explore Graduate Programs at the Faculty of Medicine.


Quick Facts

Domestic International
Application payment deadline MSc, PhD:

18-Nov-2019 (decision in January)

8-Jan-2020 (decision in March)

20-Mar-2019 (decision in May)

MSc, PhD:

18-Nov-2019 (decision in January)

8-Jan-2020 (decision in March)

20-Mar-2019 (decision in May)

Supporting documents deadline MSc, PhD:

18-Nov-2019 (decision in January)

8-Jan-2020 (decision in March)

20-Mar-2019 (decision in May)

Minimum admission average MSc:

B+ in final year of bachelor’s

 

PhD:

A- average in Master’s

MSc:

B+ in final year of bachelor’s

 

PhD:

A- average in Master’s

Direct entry option from bachelor's to PhD? PhD:

Yes (minimum A-minus average in courses in the relevant discipline)

PhD:

Yes (minimum A-minus average in courses in the relevant discipline)

Is a supervisor identified before or after admission? PhD:

After

PhD:

After

If a supervisor is identified after admission (as per question above), is admission conditional upon securing a supervisor? PhD:

No

PhD:

No

Is a supervisor assigned by the graduate unit or secured by the applicant? PhD:

Grad Unit

PhD:

Grad Unit

Program length (full-time only) MSc:

6 sessions

PhD:

4 years; 5 years direct entry

MSc:

6 sessions

PhD:

4 years; 5 years direct entry


Master of Science​

Program Description

The MSc program has two entry streams: 1) physics for students with a background in physical sciences; and 2) biology for students with a background in disciplines such as chemistry, biochemistry and life sciences.

The objective of the MSc program is for students to acquire written and oral scholarly research skills in Medical Biophysics. Students carry out a research project (which is usually laboratory-based), prepare a research thesis, take graduate-level courses, and attend and participate in research seminars. Students select from a flexible, modular curriculum and participate in department-wide Medical Biophysics Graduate Student Seminars which develop skills in cross-disciplinary communication.

All MSc students carry out a thesis project in a laboratory that they select by means of a rotations program on entry to the department. Through this project they acquire knowledge in the design of experiments and in the interpretation and critical analysis of research findings. Students submit a thesis that reports critically on their research and pass an oral examination. They are guided by a supervisory committee through which they have access to the wide range of expertise in our faculty.

Students participate in student symposium, invited lecture series, and research seminars throughout their program. They are encouraged to reclassify (transfer) into the PhD program through an examination during Year 2, taken about 20 months after entry.

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants must also satisfy the Department of Medical Biophysics' additional admission requirements stated below.

  • Applicants with diverse academic backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

  • Applicants holding bachelor's degrees from non-Canadian universities are required to provide Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (General and Subject) with their application.

Program Requirements

Biology Stream
  • Coursework. Students must complete 2.5 full-course equivalents (FCEs) as follows:

    • MBP 1015Y Biophysics Seminar (1.0 FCE). Note that students must attend this continuous course until their degree program is completed.

    • 6 modules, consisting of 2 modules per course, as follows (1.5 FCEs):

      • Biostatistics module; and Scientific Exposition and Ethics module: MBP 1101H (0.5 FCE)

      • One biology-stream module (0.25 FCE)

      • The balance of 0.75 FCE is chosen from physics- or biology-stream course modules; or (with departmental approval) graduate courses in another department.

      • Modules are taken within courses. See the course list below.

  • Successful completion of an oral examination of the student's research thesis.

Physics Stream
  • Coursework. Students must complete 2.5 full-course equivalents (FCEs) as follows:

    • ​MBP 1015Y Biophysics Seminar (1.0 FCE). Note that students must attend this continuous course until their degree program is completed.

    • 6 modules, consisting of 2 modules per course, as follows (1.5 FCEs):

      • Biostatistics module; and Scientific Exposition and Ethics module: MBP 1101H (0.5 FCE)

      • Either the Cell and Molecular Biology for Physicists—Introduction module or one biology-stream module; or a graduate course chosen in consultation with the department that provides a foundation in biology (0.5 FCE or 1.0 FCE)

      • The balance is chosen from physics- or biology-stream course modules; or (with departmental approval) graduate courses in another department.

      • Modules are taken within courses. See the course list below.

  • Successful completion of an oral examination of the student's research thesis.

Program Length

6 sessions full-time (typical registration sequence: F/W/S/F/W/S)

Time Limit

3 years full-time



​Doctor of Philosophy​

Program Description

The PhD program has two entry streams: 1) physics for students with a background in physical sciences; and 2) biology for students with a background in disciplines such as chemistry, biochemistry and life sciences.

The objective of the PhD program is to prepare students for a career in biomedical research. It is designed to provide both a broad knowledge of biomedical science and advanced training in basic research at a subspecialty level. Thesis work may address fundamental and/or translational problems in the biology, diagnosis, and therapy of cancer, as well as areas of neuroscience and cardiovascular medicine. By the end of the program, graduates will have acquired the ability to conduct independent theoretical and/or experimental research which makes an original contribution to the field, prepare publications, and give public presentations of their work at national and international venues.

These objectives are met through a combination of coursework, teaching, and research seminars, mentored laboratory research, and preparation of manuscripts for publication. Graduates may attain professorial positions in academic research and teaching institutions, hospital laboratories, and in the medical device, pharmaceutical, and biomedical science and information industries, including startup companies which they have founded.

Applicants may enter the PhD program via one of three routes: 1) following completion of an MSc degree into the four-year full-time program; 2) transfer from the University of Toronto MSc program; or 3) direct entry following completion of a BSc degree.

 

PhD Program

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants must also satisfy the Department of Medical Biophysics' additional admission requirements stated below.

  • Applicants may be admitted following completion of an MSc degree program in biological, physical, chemical, or medical sciences from a recognized Canadian university or equivalent.

  • Applicants holding bachelor’s degrees from non-Canadian universities must provide Graduate Record Examination scores (General and Subject) with their application.

  • Admission to the PhD program is highly selective and attainment of minimum admission requirements does not guarantee acceptance.

Program Requirements

  • All students, regardless of entry option, complete the same program requirements.

  • Considering the broad range of topics available for thesis research and the different backgrounds of students admitted, each student, in consultation with their supervisor, will plan a program of study that provides the appropriate background for the area of investigation.

  • All PhD students will participate in MBP 1015Y0 Biophysics Seminar regardless of whether or not they have previously received credit for it.

  • Students who transfer/reclassify into the doctoral program will receive credit for all courses taken during their MSc program in Medical Biophysics.

  • Except by special arrangement, students are required to attend the research institute or campus laboratory and participate full-time until all program requirements are completed.

Biology Stream
  • Coursework. Students must complete 3.5 full-course equivalents (FCEs) as follows:

    • MBP 1015Y0 Biophysics Seminar (1.0 FCE). Note that this is a continuous course which students must attend until their degree is completed.

    • 10 modules, consisting of 2 modules per course, as follows (2.5 FCEs):

      • Biostatistics (0.25 FCE).

      • Scientific Exposition and Ethics (0.25 FCE).

      • At least one biology-stream course module (0.25 FCE).

      • The balance of 1.75 FCE is chosen from physics- or biology-stream course modules; or (with departmental approval) graduate courses in another department.

      • Modules are taken within courses. See the course list below.

    • Students must complete all required coursework by the end of Year 3 in order to achieve candidacy. Upon achieving candidacy, completion is noted on the student's transcript.

  • Students are required to take a PhD Qualifying Examination in Year 2.

  • Successful completion of a Doctoral Final Oral Examination of the student's research thesis.

Physics Stream
  • Coursework. Students must complete 3.5 full-course equivalents (FCEs) as follows:

    • MBP 1015Y0 Biophysics Seminar (1.0 FCE). Note that this is a continuous course which students must attend until their degree is completed.

    • 10 modules selected as follows:

      • Biostatistics (0.25 FCE).

      • Scientific Exposition and Ethics (0.25 FCE).

      • Either Cell and Molecular Biology for Physicists—Introduction (0.25 FCE) or one biology-stream course module; or a graduate course chosen in consultation with the department that provides a foundation in biology (0.5 FCE or 1.0 FCE).

      • The balance is chosen from physics- or biology-stream course modules; or (with departmental approval) graduate courses in another department.

      • Modules are taken within courses. See the course list below.

    • Students must complete all required coursework by the end of Year 3 in order to achieve candidacy. Upon achieving candidacy, completion is noted on the student's transcript.
  • Students must take a PhD Qualifying Examination in Year 2.

  • Successful completion of a Doctoral Final Oral Examination of the student's research thesis.

Program Length

4 years full-time

Time Limit

6 years full-time

0 Course that may continue over a program. The course is graded when completed.

 

PhD Program (Transfer)

Transfer Requirements

  • Applicants may be accepted into the PhD program via transfer from the University of Toronto Medical Biophysics MSc program with an A– average and by successfully defending a research proposal during a reclassification oral examination within 20 months in the program.

Program Requirements

  • All PhD students will participate in MBP 1015Y0 Biophysics Seminar regardless of whether or not they have previously received credit for it.

  • Students who transfer/reclassify into the doctoral program will receive credit for all courses taken during their MSc program in Medical Biophysics. See the course requirements above for the PhD program. Students must have an A– average in these courses.

  • Students will defend a research thesis at the Doctoral Final Oral Examination conducted by Medical Biophysics and the School of Graduate Studies.

  • Except by special arrangement, students must attend the research institute or campus laboratory and participate full-time until all program requirements are completed.

Biology Stream
  • Coursework. Students must complete 3.5 full-course equivalents (FCEs) as follows:

    • MBP 1015Y0 Biophysics Seminar (1.0 FCE). Note that this is a continuous course which students must attend until their degree is completed.

    • 10 modules, consisting of 2 modules per course, as follows (2.5 FCEs):

      • Biostatistics (0.25 FCE).

      • Scientific Exposition and Ethics (0.25 FCE).

      • At least one biology-stream course module (0.25 FCE).

      • The balance of 1.75 FCE is chosen from physics- or biology-stream course modules; or (with departmental approval) graduate courses in another department.

      • Modules are taken within courses. See the course list below.

    • Students must complete all required coursework by the end of Year 4 in order to achieve candidacy. Upon achieving candidacy, completion is noted on the student's transcript.

  • Successful completion of a Doctoral Final Oral Examination of the student's research thesis.

Physics Stream
  • Coursework. Students must complete 3.5 full-course equivalents (FCEs) as follows:

    • MBP 1015Y0 Biophysics Seminar (1.0 FCE). Note that this is a continuous course which students must attend until their degree is completed.

    • 10 modules selected as follows:

      • Biostatistics (0.25 FCE).

      • Scientific Exposition and Ethics (0.25 FCE).

      • Either Cell and Molecular Biology for Physicists—Introduction (0.25 FCE) or one biology-stream course module; or a graduate course chosen in consultation with the department that provides a foundation in biology (0.5 FCE or 1.0 FCE).

      • The balance is chosen from physics- or biology-stream course modules; or (with departmental approval) graduate courses in another department.

      • Modules are taken within courses. See the course list below.

    • Students must complete all required coursework by the end of Year 4 in order to achieve candidacy. Upon achieving candidacy, completion is noted on the student's transcript.
  • Successful completion of a Doctoral Final Oral Examination of the student's research thesis.

Program Length

5 years

Time Limit

7 years

0 Course that may continue over a program. The course is graded when completed.

 

PhD Program (Direct-Entry)

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants must also satisfy the Department of Medical Biophysics' additional admission requirements stated below.

  • Outstanding students may be admitted directly to the PhD program following completion of a BSc degree with an A– average in biological, physical, chemical, or medical sciences from a recognized Canadian university or equivalent.

  • Applicants holding bachelor’s degrees from non-Canadian universities must provide Graduate Record Examination scores (General and Subject) with their application.

  • Admission to the PhD program is highly selective and attainment of minimum admission requirements does not guarantee acceptance.

Program Requirements

  • Students must successfully defend a research proposal during a qualifying oral examination within 18 months of entry into the program.

  • Students will defend a research thesis at the Doctoral Final Oral Examination conducted by the Department of Medical Biophysics and the School of Graduate Studies.

  • Except by special arrangement, students must attend the research institute or campus laboratory and participate full-time until all program requirements are completed.

Biology Stream
  • Coursework. Students must complete 3.5 full-course equivalents (FCEs) as follows:

    • MBP 1015Y0 Biophysics Seminar (1.0 FCE). Note that this is a continuous course which students must attend until their degree is completed.

    • 10 modules, consisting of 2 modules per course, as follows (2.5 FCEs):

      • Biostatistics (0.25 FCE).

      • Scientific Exposition and Ethics (0.25 FCE).

      • At least one biology-stream course module (0.25 FCE).

      • The balance of 1.75 FCE is chosen from physics- or biology-stream course modules; or (with departmental approval) graduate courses in another department.

      • Modules are taken within courses. See the course list below.

    • Students must complete all required coursework by the end of Year 4 in order to achieve candidacy. Upon achieving candidacy, completion is noted on the student's transcript.
  • Students must take a PhD Qualifying Examination in Year 2.

  • Successful completion of a Doctoral Final Oral Examination of the student's research thesis.

Physics Stream
  • Coursework. Students must complete 3.5 full-course equivalents (FCEs) as follows:

    • MBP 1015Y0 Biophysics Seminar (1.0 FCE). Note that this is a continuous course which students must attend until their degree is completed.

    • 10 modules selected as follows:

      • Biostatistics (0.25 FCE).

      • Scientific Exposition and Ethics (0.25 FCE).

      • Either Cell and Molecular Biology for Physicists—Introduction (0.25 FCE) or one biology-stream course module; or a graduate course chosen in consultation with the department that provides a foundation in biology (0.5 FCE or 1.0 FCE).

      • The balance is chosen from physics- or biology-stream course modules; or (with departmental approval) graduate courses in another department.

      • Modules are taken within courses. See the course list below.

    • Students must complete all required coursework by the end of Year 4 in order to achieve candidacy. Upon achieving candidacy, completion is noted on the student's transcript.
  • Students must take a PhD Qualifying Examination in Year 2.

  • Successful completion of a Doctoral Final Oral Examination of the student's research thesis.

Program Length

5 years

Time Limit

7 years

0 Course that may continue over a program. The course is graded when completed.



Adam Durbin

“U of T is a place to investigate new ideas.”

Adam Durbin
Alumnus, ​​MD/PhD (2010), Medical Biophysics
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