Last updated: January 2, 2009 @ 09:11AM
Master of Science in Biotechnology
Doctor of Philosophy in Biotechnology
Fields of Specialization
A Joffre Mercier
Faculty of Mathematics and Science
Faculty of Mathematics and Science
Michael J. Bidochka (Biological Sciences), Ian Brindle (Chemistry), Douglas Bruce (Biological Sciences), Alan J. Castle (Biological Sciences), Vincenzo DeLuca (Biological Sciences), Yousef Haj-Ahmad (Biological Sciences), Tomas Hudlicky (Chemistry), Fiona F. Hunter (Biological Sciences), Joffre Mercier (Biological Sciences), Gary Pickering (Biological Sciences), Andrew Reynolds (Biological Sciences), Stuart M. Rothstein (Chemistry), Art van der Est (Chemistry)
Jeffrey Atkinson (Chemistry), Robert L.Carlone (Biological Sciences), Charles Després (Biological Sciences), Heather Gordon (Chemistry), Deborah Inglis (Biological Sciences), Adonis Skandalis (Biological Sciences), Gaynor Spencer, (Biological Sciences), Edward Sternin (Physics)
Travis Dudding (Chemistry), Costa Metallinos (Chemistry), Hongbin (Tony) Yan (Chemistry)
Graduate Program Director
Doug Bruce (Biological Sciences)
Financial & Administrative Assistant
905-688-5550, extension 3115
Mackenzie Chown F204
At Brock University, the graduate programs offered by the Centre for Biotechnology encompass the broad fields of chemical and gene biotechnology. These fields are interdisciplinary in nature and collaboration between participating faculty and departments is encouraged.
Admission Requirements - MSc
Successful completion of an Honours Bachelor's degree, or equivalent, normally with an overall average of not less than 78%, or the equivalent grade point average in major courses in an undergraduate program in biotechnology, chemistry or the biological sciences (composed of but not limited to biochemistry, biology, genetics, or microbiology). Agreement from a faculty advisor to supervise the student is also required for admission to the program.
The Graduate Admissions Committee will review all applications and recommend admission for a limited number of suitable candidates.
Individuals interested in part-time study should consult with the Graduate Program Director.
Degree Requirements - MSc
The program is designed to provide a broad background in the cognate basic disciplines of biotechnology (chemistry and biology). Students with undergraduate degrees in chemistry or the biological sciences will be exposed to the breadth of biotechnology through mandatory participation in the seminar program, and will have the opportunity to focus on selected areas of biotechnology in other graduate courses. Each student will be assigned a supervisory committee composed of three members from at least two of the departments participating in the program. The student will meet with the committee at the start of their program, and on a regular basis, at minimum intervals of six months, for the duration of their program of study. Each meeting will involve the presentation by the student of a report on research objectives and progress, and discussion with the committee on the realization of these goals. In addition, each student will present one research level public seminar during their tenure in the program.
Students are required to complete BTEC 5F90 and BTEC 5P95. Three additional half-credits are required, two of which must be numbered 5(alpha)00 or higher and one of which may be numbered 4(alpha)00 or higher. Normally, only one of these three additional half-credit courses may be taken from among 5(alpha)00 or 4(alpha)00 level courses offered by the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry or Physics, which are not cross-listed with the Biotechnology program.
Additional credits may be required of candidates with insufficient preparation in their areas of research specialization, at the discretion of the supervisory committee. As part of BTEC 5F90, every MSc candidate must prepare and defend a thesis which demonstrates a capacity for independent work of acceptable scientific calibre.
Admission Requirements - PhD
Successful completion of an appropriate Master's degree in Biotechnology, Biophysics, Chemistry or the Biological Sciences (composed of but not limited to Biochemistry, Biology, Genetics or Microbiology). Alternatively, students who have successfully completed a minimum of one year in the Brock MSc Biotechnology program may apply to be transferred to the PhD program. In this event, registration in BTEC 5F90 will continue as registration in BTEC 7F99.
Students transferring from the MSc to the PhD will normally be expected to have attained an 80% average and have achieved significant research progress as determined by their supervisory committee. Students entering the PhD program already possessing an MSc will have demonstrated research potential and will normally be expected to have attained an 80% average in their Master's coursework.
The Graduate Admissions Committee will review all applications and recommend admission for a limited number of suitable candidates.
Part-time study is not available.
Degree Requirements - PhD
Each student will be assigned a supervisory committee composed of three members from at least two of the departments participating in the program. The student will meet with the committee at the start of their program, and on a regular basis, at minimum intervals of six months, for the duration of their program of study. Each meeting will involve the presentation by the student of a report on research objectives and progress, and discussion with the committee on the realization of these goals. In addition, each student will present two research level public seminars during their tenure in the program.
Students approved to transfer from the MSc program:
PhD students are required to complete BTEC 7F99 and BTEC 7P96. Four additional half-credits are required, three of which must be numbered 5(alpha)00 or higher and one of which may be numbered 4(alpha)00 or higher. One of these four half-credit courses should be taken from an instructor whose home department is not the one in which the student's research work is located. Normally, only one of these four half-credit courses may be taken from among 5(alpha)00 or 4(alpha)00 level courses offered by the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry or Physics, which are not cross-listed with the Biotechnology program.
Students with a completed MSc:
PhD students are required to complete BTEC 7F99 and BTEC 7P96. Three additional half-credits are required, two of which must be numbered 5(alpha)00 or higher and one of which may be numbered 4(alpha)00 or higher. One of these three half-credit courses should be taken from an instructor whose home department is not the one in which the student's research work is located. Normally, only one of these three half-credit courses may be taken from among 5(alpha)00 or 4(alpha)00 level courses offered by the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry or Physics, that are not cross-listed with the Biotechnology program.
All PhD Students
Additional credits may be required for candidates with insufficient preparation in their areas of research specialization at the discretion of the supervisory committee. As part of BTEC 7F99, every PhD candidate must prepare and defend a thesis which demonstrates a capacity for independent work of acceptable scientific calibre. Continued enrolment in the PhD program requires the successful completion of an oral comprehensive examination, which should take place normally by the end of the second year of enrolment in the PhD program. The comprehensive examining committee will be composed of the student's supervisor, two members of the student's supervisory committee, one member from one of the departments involved in the program and one member from a department in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science not participating in the program.
The following research fields are currently represented:
A. Chemical Biotechnology
Chemical Biotechnology involves the use of the tools and techniques of chemistry to understand and manipulate biological processes. The emphasis in the description of a new field such as Chemical Biotechnology, and its distinction from the existing discipline of biochemistry, lies in the utilization of the core skills and knowledge of chemistry (from synthetic, analytical and physical approaches) to address phenomena of biological interest.
The chemical biotechnologist has the capability to choose a biological problem, the chemical skills to tackle it, and an appreciation that chemistry impacts upon the biology as biology directs the chemistry in an interactive manner. This would, for example, describe an organic chemist who chooses a target molecule for synthesis because it represents a novel structure for a biologically important goal such as enzyme inhibition or receptor binding. The research is then guided by an iterative procedure of bioassay and structure activity relationships, efforts that require knowledge of the biological systems involved, including metabolism, enzyme/protein structure and function, in addition to cellular and molecular biology.
Research areas in the Chemical Biotechnology field include:
Molecular design, synthesis and fermentation technology
Theoretical, computational, synthetic and applied approaches to the design and biosynthesis of molecules used to investigate and/or modify biological systems.
||biocatalysis: the use of whole cells and/or enzymes to effect chemical transformations. Small molecule catalysis: the design of small molecule chiral catalysts with enzyme like activities, synthetic enzymes.
||design of key molecules/intermediates for the manipulation of biosynthesis, metabolism or signal transduction. This would include pharmacophore discovery, drug design and delivery, investigation into molecular modes of action.
Structure and dynamics of macromolecules
Physical and theoretical approaches to understanding structure and function of macromolecules with biotechnological applications.
||structural characterization by mass spectrometry, NMR, EPR, specialized RAMAN, IR and optical spectroscopic techniques.
||spectroscopic and theoretical investigations of macromolecular dynamics. Steady state and time resolved NMR, EPR, and optical absorption and emission spectroscopy. Focus on protein and lipid dynamics, protein and lipid interactions, protein conformational changes associated with enzymatic activity, active site dynamics, redox active enzymes and mechanisms of electron transport. Photoactive enzymes and mechanisms of photochemistry. Computer-based molecular modeling techniques applied to biological molecules.
B. Gene Biotechnology
Gene biotechnology involves the use of DNA technology, bioinformatics and microbiological techniques to study biological phenomena. Molecular biologists, biochemists, chemists and microbiologists increasingly employ such tools to understand the basic concepts in molecular biology. The power of gene biotechnology lies in the ability of a researcher to isolate, manipulate, study, modify and reintroduce genes into organisms. Such modification is deliberate and can answer specific questions that were impossible to address only a few years ago.
Research Areas in the Gene Biotechnology field include:
Regulation of gene expression
The characterization and manipulation of genes and factors that influence gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
Isolation, analysis, modification and re-introduction of genes into organisms with emphasis on gene expression, protein modification, and protein secretion.
The Centre for Biotechnology uses research laboratories in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry, and the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (Inniskillin Hall). The major equipment holdings include:
In Biological Sciences
Greenhouse, cold rooms, incubators, centrifuges, radiation facilities and all routine equipment necessary for biochemical research and gene manipulation.
Two high field NMR spectrometers with solid probe facility, electron spin resonance, mass spectrometers with EI, FAB, electrospray, APCI, and CI ionization and GC and LC inlets, ICP analysis equipment, routine UV, IR, GC, HPLC facilities, incubator and sterile environment facilities.
In Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute
Cold rooms, centrifuges, standard molecular biology equipment for purification, analysis and use of proteins and nucleic acids; and fermentation equipment up to the pilot plant level.
All Brock students are entitled to computer accounts at no charge. These provide for internet and E-mail access, storage space on a central Unix server, and access to the Library, its catalogue and various on-line library services and databases. Students also have access to all campus wide PC and Mac labs, and the software installed on their servers, including word processing, spread sheets, data base, graphics, statistics etc. In addition to the central resources, there are typically one or more networked PCs or Macs in each research lab and in the central instrumentation service labs. Local and networked printers are available. Most major instrumentation is also networked, permitting the movement of experimental data from lab to office. Students may also access a dedicated computer lab that provides powerful molecular modelling/semi-empirical/ab-initio software and other important scientific software.
Note: Not all courses are offered in every session. Students must consult with the Graduate Program Director regarding course offerings and course selection and must have their course selections approved by their research supervisor and Graduate Program Director each term. Refer to the Timetable for scheduling information:
The preparation and public defence of a thesis which will demonstrate the candidate's capacity for independent study.
(also offered as BIOL 5P06)
Genome sequencing projects. Gene discovery. Analysis of gene expression. Analysis of DNA/RNA/protein sequence data, including mutagenic processes, molecular evolution and systematics, codon usage, reconstruction of ancient molecules, and prediction of higher level molecular structure.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL/BCHM/BTEC 4P06.
Topics in Animal and Plant Signal Transduction Pathways
(also offered as BIOL 5P09)
Perception of stimuli to effects on gene expression. Emphasis on the molecular/biochemical tools used to study these pathways.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL/BCHM/BTEC 4P09.
Mechanisms in Plant Biochemistry
(also offered as BIOL 5P10)
Molecular and chemical control of plant disease processes and development. Focus on the detailed signaling mechanisms and outcomes of signal transduction to a plant phenotype. Emphasis on case studies that highlight the different phases of this process, including the identification of signals, signal perception, signal transduction and reaction to the signal transduction cascade to produce a phenotype.
(also offered as CHEM 5P13)
electron, energy, and signal transfer and their role in biological systems. Marcus theory, Dexter and Foerster mechanisms of energy transfer. The optical and magnetic resonance spectroscopy of excited states.
Computational Chemistry: Applications in Biotechnology
(also offered as CHEM 5P14)
Structure-based drug design; molecular modelling; conformational search techniques; secondary and tertiary protein structure prediction; quantitative structure activity relationships; bioinformatics.
Special Topics in Chemical Biology
(also offered as CHEM 5P22)
Focuses on the chemical-biology of select biologically active compounds of current interest in the literature. The occurrence, biosynthesis and biological activity, including structure-activity relationships, will be studied. Strategies toward the chemical synthesis of these compounds will also be investigated.
Natural Products Chemistry
(also offered as CHEM 5P24)
A study of structural features, synthesis and biosynthesis of natural products selected from the acetogenin, alkaloid, steroid and terpenoid group and other areas.
(also offered as CHEM 5P25)
Structure and activity of biologically active organic compounds; introduction to pharmacology, pharmacodynamics, and receptor theory as a background for a more detailed study of chemistry of drugs such as enzyme inhibitors and receptor antagonists; rational drug design, combinatorial libraries, screening and general routes of metabolism.
Advanced Enzyme and Co-enzyme Mechanisms
(also offered as CHEM 5P27)
Hydrolytic and other processes catalyzed by enzymes lacking non-protein prosthetic groups; reactions involving the co-enzymes biotin, pyridoxal phosphate, thiamine pyrophosphate, folic acid and cobalamin; oxidation mechanisms involving pyridine nucleotides, flavoenzymes, hydroperoxidases and oxygenases.
Bioorganic Chemistry: Carbohydrates and Nucleic Acids
(also offered as CHEM 5P28)
Mono- and oligosaccharides; preparative carbohydrate chemistry; neoglycoconjugates; immunochemistry of carbohydrates; nucleosides and nucleotides; oligonucleotide synthesis; medicinal chemistry of oligonucleotides.
Mutagenesis in Disease and Biotechnology
(also offered as BIOL 5P50)
This seminar course will explore the various mechanisms of mutagenesis of the genetic material, how they contribute to disease, and how they can be adapted to produce new biomolecules.
Note: offered in conjunction with BIOL 4P50.
(also offered as BIOL 5P51)
A seminar course on virus-host interaction, productive cycle, effect of virus on host cell and organism, interferon, DNA and RNA tumor viruses, viral vectors, gene therapy and recombinant viral vaccines.
Note: offered in conjunction with BIOL/BTEC 4P51.
(also offered as BIOL 5P53)
A seminar course on humoral and cellular immunity; structure and synthesis of immunoglobulins; origin of antibody diversity; transplantation immunity and the importance of the major histocompatibility complex; autoimmunity and allergic reactions.
Note: offered in conjunction with BIOL 4P53.
(also offered as BIOL 5P57)
Molecular and transmission genetics of bacteria. Bacterial genetics from early description of transformation and transduction to current developments in molecular genetics.
Note: offered in conjunction with BIOL/BTEC 4P57.
(also offered as BIOL 5P58)
An examination of the transmission and molecular genetics of fungi. Recent advances in gene manipulation and the contribution of studies on these organisms to general genetics principles.
Note: offered in conjunction with BIOL/BTEC 4P58.
(also offered as BIOL 5P67 and CHEM 5P67)
An advanced seminar/lecture course on experimental techniques in biophysics. The focus is on understanding the theory, applications and limitations of a variety of techniques students will encounter during their graduate studies. Techniques will range from advanced spectroscopy (absorption, fluorescence, NMR, X-ray diffraction) to molecular biochemistry spectroscopy.
Note: course taught in conjunction with BIOL/CHEM/BCHM 4P67.
Current Topics in Basic and Applied Plant Biology
(also offered as BIOL 5P86)
An investigation into a number of topics in plant biology. Topics will vary and may include plant disease, signal transduction, secondary metabolism, physiology and photosynthesis, biotechnological applications and oenology and viticulture.
Graduate Seminar I
Presentation of one full-length (60 min) research seminar in a public forum and attending at least ten such student seminars (or other seminars designated as appropriate) during the two year duration of the student's Master of Science program. Credit in BTEC 5P95 can be converted to credit in BTEC 7P96 by the completion of the additional seminars and course requirements indicated for BTEC 7P96.
PhD Research and Thesis
Preparation, public defence, and examination of a thesis that demonstrates the candidate's ability for independent thought and study at the appropriate level.
Graduate Seminar II
Presentation of two full-length (60 min) research seminars in a public forum and attending at least twenty such student seminars (or other seminars designated as appropriate) during the four year duration of the student's PhD program.