The Interdisciplinary Oncology Program is designed to appeal to a broad range of students with varied backgrounds and interests. The program will have two required courses (6 credits), which will provide an interdisciplinary perspective on oncology in a form that is accessible to students from diverse backgrounds. Masters students and PhD students who do not hold a Masters degree must also take 12 credits of elective courses. The elective courses can provide intensive training in one or more subjects specific to the student's thesis research, and also give the student an opportunity to gain expertise in other disciplines that have potential for synergy with his/her primary specialization. The elective courses may include core graduate courses of the student's home department, thus integrating the academic expectations of the Interdisciplinary Oncology Program with the graduate program of the home department. The elective courses must be approved by the Supervisory Committee, which will include representation from the home department. Electives would be courses at the 500 level or above; however, up to 6 credits of electives at the 300 or 400 level would be permissible. Please note that students who already hold a Masters degree while not required to take electives in addition to the core courses, are encouraged to do so in order to adequately prepare for the interdisciplinary nature of the comprehensive exam.

Required Courses

ONCO 502 (3) Concepts in Oncology.
This is a 3-credit (one-term) lecture course taught by IOP faculty emphasizing the biology and epidemiology of cancer, and theories behind prevention, diagnosis and treatment of different types of cancer. A major goal of the course is to integrate knowledge and research activities in the biology of cancer with all disciplines in oncology. For example, questions posed could include: How does one determine if a population has an increased incidence of a specific cancer due to genetic versus environmental versus lifestyle influences? How does genetic instability contribute to cancer initiation and progression? What are the advantages/difficulties of using gene therapy approaches to treat cancer? What drives the evolution of a cancer cell clone? How do cancer/host interactions limit and promote tumor expansion? What are the ethical issues involved in gathering genetic information for cancer control? Students will be evaluated by term essays and final examination essays. In order to be registered for this course you need to contact the Course Director, Stephen Yip

ONCO 510 (3) Seminars in Oncology.

Every IOP Student is required to take ONCO510.  This is a Pass/Fail course. Credit for this course will only be given at the end of the student's program of study.  In order to complete the requirements of this course they need to do the following:


1.   Students are required to present a seminar on their research (one 30 minute seminar per year) and to attend weekly seminars given by students and post doctoral fellows engaged in various aspects of cancer research. The exception is, first year students are not required to present.  Students are required to maintain continuous registration in ONCO 510 throughout their Masters or PhD.  IOP Faculty will offer constructive written and oral feedback on the seminar immediately after the presentation.  A sample form has been created for this purpose:


IOP Seminar Feedback Form


2.    Attendance of the seminar is required throughout your time as an IOP student.  Seminar topics will be part of your oral or comprehensive exam.  Make it a habit to attend all seminars and sign the attendance sheet at the seminar.  If you must miss a seminar, please let Rebecca Smith know by email the reason for your absence.


3.    Within the first 2 years of registration in ONCO510, you must have demonstrated your ability to ask thoughtful questions at seminars.  Your questions can be asked at either a Thursday or Monday seminar.  Once you have asked a question at a seminar, email Rebecca Smith (and copy the IOP Director) the question you asked, the date of the talk, who the speaker was, and what the answer to the question was. For students registered from Sept 2009 and later, a minimum of 5 questions over 2 years are required, and questions should be continued to be asked after the first 2 years. 


4. As an additional opportunity to hone your presentation skills, you may request that your seminar be videotaped for your own personal review.


 ONCO 548 (3+) Optional


This course is designed to meet the needs of students to gain hands-on experience by rotations through specialty laboratories and by shadowing clinicians. 


The supervisor and supervisory committee create a rotation plan worth up to 3 credits for the student.   Ideally this plan should provide a balanced experience of both population and laboratory science appropriate to the thesis project.  A rationale can then be submitted to the Director of IOP for approval on the rotation plan.


There are no formal examinations for ONCO548.  A grade is assigned based on a written report submitted by the student at the end of the rotation which will be evaluated by the student’s supervisory committee.  The committee will assess the level of understanding of the theories addressed in the rotation and how well the student has achieved the above learning objectives.


Depending on the graduate program, students must enroll and maintain continuous registration in either of the following:

ONCO 549 MSc thesis - 12 credits (continuous registration required)

ONCO 649 PhD thesis - 0 credits (continuous registration required)

Elective Courses

The following is a list of examples of potential elective courses for students in the Interdisciplinary Oncology Program. These courses are chosen for their particular relevance to oncology, however, electives may be chosen outside of this list. Please note that this list is not updated on a regular basis and some courses may not be offered each year. (Please consult the UBC course calendar for course descriptions).

BIOC 303 (6) Molecular Biochemistry
BIOC 503 (2) Molecular Biochemistry
BIOC 511 (3) Biochemical Aspects of Cellular Regulation
BIOL 300 (3) Biometrics
BIOL 334 (3) Basic Genetics
BIOL 335 (3) Molecular Genetics
BIOL 350 (6) Cell Physiology
BIOL 441 (3) Animal Cell Biology
BIOL 508 (6) Genetics Seminar
BIOL 530 (3) The Biology of the Cell
HCEP 506 (3) The Design and Analysis of Clinical Trials
HCEP 525 (3) Cancer Epidemiology
HUNU 407 (6) Nutrition and Disease
HUNU 503 (3) Current Issues in Nutrition and Metabolism
HUNU 505 (3) Current Issues in Nutrition and Disease
HUNU 507 (3) Current Issues in Nutrition over the Life Span
MEDG 419 (3) Human Cytogenetics
MEDG 420 (3) Human Biochemical and Molecular Genetics
MEDG 421 (3) Genetics and Cell Biology of Cancer
MEDG 505 (3) Genome Analysis
MEDG 520 (3) Advanced Human Molecular Genetics
MEDG 521 (3) Molecular and Cell Biology of Cancer
MEDG 525 (3) Medical Population Genetics
MEDG 530 (3) Human Genetics
MEDG 535 (3) Genetics and Ethics
MEDI 501 (3) Molecular and Cellular Biology of Experimental Medicine
MEDI 590 (3) Molecular Regulation of Cell Growth and differentiation
MICB 402 (3) Advanced Immunology
MICB 502 (3) Advanced Immunogenetics
PHAR 448 (4) Environmental and Cellular Toxicology
PHAR 480 (6) Drugs: Chemistry, Pharmacology and Therapeutics IV
PHAR 502 (4) Advanced concepts in Pharmacokinetics
PHIL 433 (3) BioŽMedical Ethics
PHYS 305 (3) Introduction to Biophysics
PHYS 404 (3) Physics of Medical Imaging
PHYS 405 (3) Radiation Biophysics
PHYS 437 (3) Physics of Biocellular Structure and Machinery
PHYS 534 (3) Radiotherapy Physics I
PHYS 535 (3) Radiotherapy Physics II
PHYS 543 (3) Biomedical Optics
PSYC 314 (3) Health Psychology
PSYC 535 (3) Psychopathology of the Adult
PSYC 536 (3) Psychopathology of the Child
PSYC 539 (3/6) Health Psychology
PSYC 560 (3) Clinical Research Design
ZOOL 505 (6) Cell Biology Seminar