Last updated: October 29, 2021 @ 10:40AM
Master of Science in Biotechnology
Doctor of Philosophy in Biotechnology
Fields of Specialization
S. Ejaz Ahmed
Faculty of Mathematics and Science
Faculty of Mathematics and Science
Jeffrey Atkinson (Chemistry), Michael J. Bidochka (Biological Sciences), Vincenzo De Luca (Biological Sciences),Travis Dudding (Chemistry), Tomas Hudlicky (Chemistry), Deborah Inglis (Biological Sciences), Ping Liang (Biological Sciences), Hongbin (Tony) Yan (Chemistry)
Charles Despres (Biological Sciences), Costa Metallinos (Chemistry), Feng Li (Chemistry), Paul Zelisko (Chemistry)
Aleksandar Necakov (Biological Sciences), Ian Patterson (Biological Sciences)
Participating Graduate Faculty
Fiona F. Hunter (Biological Sciences), A. Joffre Mercier (Biological Sciences), Art van der Est (Chemistry)
Robert L. Carlone (Biological Sciences)
Graduate Program Director
Graduate Administrative Coordinator
905-688-5550, extension 3115
Mackenzie Chown D473
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. Chemical Biotechnology involves the use of the tools and techniques of chemistry to understand and manipulate biological processes. Gene biotechnology involves the use of DNA technology, bioinformatics and microbiological techniques to study biological phenomena. Graduates of these programs work in such areas as pharmaceuticals and related human health activities, food science and nutritional biochemistry, environment, energy, as well as biotechnological related issues of finance and policy.
Admission Requirements - MSc
Successful completion of an Honours Bachelor's degree, or equivalent, normally with an 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.
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.
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.
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.
In addition, students with exceptional research potential and unquestionably superior academic standing who hold an Honours BSc or equivalent may be admitted into the PhD program. Research potential is gauged by (i) strong undergraduate research experiences, (ii) publications, (iii) graduate scholarships, (iv) examples of the applicants scientific writing.
Students transferring from the MSc to the PhD will normally be expected to have attained an 80% average, have completed their first seminar in BTEC 5P95, 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
Continued enrolment in the PhD program requires the successful completion of the candidacy examination, which should take place normally by the end of the second year of enrolment in the PhD program (or by the end of the third year of enrolment in the graduate program for students who have transferred from the MSc program after one year). The student will prepare and present a research proposal, not directly related to their thesis, on a topic approved by their supervisory committee. The proposal will follow the style for NSERC Discovery Grant applications. The work described should have a reasonable chance of progress over a three year period. The candidacy examining committee will be composed of the student's supervisor, two members of the supervisory committee, and one member from one of the departments involved in the program.
The following research fields are currently represented:
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.
Structure and dynamics of macromolecules
||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.
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.
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.
Three 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 that not all courses are offered in every session. Refer to the applicable timetable for details.
Students must check to ensure that prerequisites are met. Students may be deregistered, at the request of the instructor, from any course for which prerequisites and/or restrictions have not been met.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
(also offered as CHEM 5P38)
Chemical and biochemical techniques used for separation, detection, and analysis of biomolecules and special topics in functional nucleic acids and nano medicine.
Human Molecular Genetics
(also offered as BIOL 5P41)
Principles of human genetics, human genome organization, pedigree, disease gene mapping, forensic and cancer genetics, genome sequencing, personal genomics via lectures, projects, and student seminars.
Restriction: Open to graduate students in the biological sciences and biotechnology programs.
Prerequisite(s): BIOL 3P50 or 3P51 or permission of the instructor.
(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 BCHM/BTEC/CHEM 4P67.
Containment Level 3 Techniques
An advanced seminar/lecture/lab course on experimental techniques used in a CL3 laboratory. The focus is on understanding the theory, applications and limitations of a variety of techniques students will encounter during their graduate studies. Part of the course will involve a training module offered through the National Microbiology Laboratory or the Public Health Agency of Canada, as appropriate.
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.
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.