Image of Dr. Geddes-McAlister and PhD student in lab

PhD Molecular and Cellular Biology

Students in the PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology program work alongside faculty in the pursuit of fundamental and applied research questions involving diverse biological systems (plants, humans and other animals, prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes) at the molecular and cellular level. 

Through this program, students develop into independent and creative scientists, ready to take on roles as scholars in academia or as leaders in industry or government.

Degree Details

The PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology program is offered in five areas of study: 

  • Biochemistry 
  • Cell Biology 
  • Microbiology 
  • Molecular Biology and Genetics 
  • Plant Biology 
Collaborative Specialization

Collaborative Specializations

PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology students may also add a collaborative specialization in Toxicology, Neuroscience or One Health. A collaborative specialization is an intra-university graduate field of study that provides an additional multidisciplinary experience for students enrolled in and completing the degree requirements for an MCB graduate program. 

Student using pipette in lab

Research Strengths

Many faculty members in the program are nationally or internationally recognized as leaders in their research fields. They include Canada Research Chairs and University Research Chairs, as well as recipients of other national career development awards, and have received many high-profile awards for research and teaching. They carry out well-funded, leading-edge research in fundamental aspects of molecular and cellular biology and address major emerging issues in the areas of cell and plant biology, biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology and genetics, and neuroscience. Some of the research strengths within the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology include:  

  • Molecular basis of disease 
  • Molecular biology and gene expression 
  • Cell signaling and trafficking 
  • Host-pathogen/commensal interactions 
  • Plant metabolism and biotechnology 
  • Protein structure and function
Image of Safiya Mahabub
I research epigenetic regulation in cells, which if gone wrong creates many human diseases. It is important for us to understand how healthy cells maintain their epigenome so we can harness the knowledge to reprogram diseased cells. I also get to teach undergraduate students as a TA, and this is where I make the most direct impact. It is satisfying to know that I am contributing to the education and campus experience of students. I try to alleviate the fear of making mistakes in the lab, and generate enthusiasm for science and research.

Safia Mahabub Sauty, Graduate Student
PhD Molecular & Cellular Biology

Image of PhD student Olivia Grafinger
The Molecular and Cellular Biology program is one of three streams in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Guelph. The highly diverse faculty within the College therefore promote interdepartmental collaborations between a multitude of diverse fields.

Olivia Grafinger, Alumni
2020 PhD Molecular & Cellular Biology

Choosing an Advisor

Check out Before You Apply for helpful advice on identifying and reaching out to faculty members.

Safia Sauty in the lab

Degree Requirements

Students must complete MCB*7500 PhD Research Topics in Molecular and Cellular Biology. This two-semester course should be completed in the first year of study and normally within the first two semesters.  

Students without an MSc degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology or the equivalent are required to take one additional graduate course. Other courses may be taken on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee. 

An average of “B-minus” (70%) must be achieved in the prescribed courses.  

To be a candidate for the PhD degree, each student must pass a PhD Qualifying Exam. The Qualifying Examination is completed before the end of the fifth semester (for students with an MSc) or the end of the seventh semester (for students without an MSc). 

The PhD thesis research must involve original inquiry into a well-defined question in the molecular biosciences. It is expected to result in the publication of one or more papers in high-quality peer-reviewed journals. The research must represent a significant contribution to the relevant research field. 

Student pours from a beaker in a lab

Visit Us

Contact individual faculty members by email and/or telephone to arrange a visit. Be prepared to discuss your specific interest in their research program. To assist our faculty in making a selection from the pool of interested students, we suggest you include in your correspondence the following: 

  • Courses completed (plus the mark received) 
  • Relevant research and/or work experience you have, and with whom 
  • Whether you have a scholarship 
  • Two or three academic or research references 
  • Reason for contacting our particular faculty 

Once you’ve submitted your application, contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator (Dr. Jaideep Mathur, to be considered for an expenses-paid visit to our department.     

Contact Us

Dr. Jaideep Mathur
Graduate Program Coordinator 
Phone number: 519-824-4120 ext 56636

Laura Faris
Graduate Program Assistant
Phone number: 519-824-4120 ext. 56246

Karen White
Graduate Admissions Assistant
Phone number: 519-824-4120 Ext. 52730