The Quantitative Life Sciences Ph.D. Program is a novel inter-department and inter-faculty program designed to produce the next generation of leaders in the rapidly changing world of biology, medicine and biotechnology. This program has been designed from the ground-up with close consultation with all stakeholders to produce graduates with the quantitative and interdisciplinary skills that Quebec and Canada need to maintain their positions as world-leaders in bio- and life-science research.
The general objective of the Ph.D. Program in Quantitative Life Science is to educate students who are at the cutting edge of quantitative approaches (technological, computational, and statistical) for the collection, analysis, and interpretation of complex data from life sciences. Our students will ask questions that will drive biology and medicine tomorrow, and will be equipped to answer them. Research domains can encompass all of the life sciences, from molecules to ecosystems.
The Ph.D. Program requirements include coursework, research seminars, a lab rotation program, annual advisory committee meetings, a comprehensive exam, a research thesis and an oral defense.
In the first year, students are required to take QLSC-600 "Foundations of Quantitative Life Sciences", a two-semester, six credit course. QLSC-600 provides an overview of important problems in the life sciences and introduces students to the latest computational, mathematical, and statistical approaches involved in their solution. The course includes a survey of modern technologies for biological data acquisition and promotes a common language to communicate across the biological, physical, mathematical, and computational sciences.
Students are also required to take a minimum of 9 credits of complementary courses, including 3-6 credits of "life science" courses and 3-6 credits of "quantitative" courses. The choice of the complementary courses will be made by the student and the supervisor/advisory committee.
Lab Rotation Program
Students will spend their first year rotating through three different research groups led by different supervisors affiliated with QLS. Rotations are mandatory in QLS, and students will be strongly encouraged to do rotations in a variety of domains. During this time, they will either undertake a short-term research project, or assist with a longer-term project, and will be expected to work at their rotation labs full time, with the exception of QLS-related activities such as courses or seminars. When possible, the rotations will be selected to be complementary.
Advisory Committee Meetings
After the first year, students will choose their supervisor or co-supervisors. Then together, they will choose a thesis advisory committee ensuring that both quantitative and life science disciplines are represented. The committee will help the student prepare for the comprehensive examination, and will meet at least annually.
Students will be required to pass a comprehensive exam before the end of the second year of the PhD. The comprehensive exam consists of the three components: a written proposal, an oral presentation of the proposal, and an oral examination assessing breadth and depth of knowledge.
Thesis Requirement and Oral Defence
The thesis expectations follow the guidelines established by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at McGill University. In general, the thesis must demonstrate a mastery of appropriate research as well as contributing original scholarship relating to the area of specialization. An oral examination of the content and implications of the thesis will be held in a public forum to determine the quality of the written thesis document and the student’s oral defence of the thesis.