Health Sciences Graduate Program

Program Objectives

The MSc and PhD programs in Health Sciences are thesis-based graduate programs for graduate students performing research intensive research within the College of Medicine.  Research projects primarily investigate translational and/or clinical aspects of human disease, health, healthy living, and/or translational research but may also include more biomedical research projects with clinical translation. Areas of research are open and dependent on the research interests and expertise of the student and their research supervisor. These programs offer relevant, centrally managed programs that provide research skills, attitudes, and knowledge necessary for any life and health science graduate regardless of the nature of the research project.

 

Graduate Program Structure

The Graduate Program structure for the MSc and PhD in Health Sciences uses the following evaluation tools for the assessment of the student, the centrally managed courses offered, and the programs. 

 

Research Advisory Committees (RAC) – A Research Advisory Committee is established for each graduate student and is responsible for determining the individual student’s program, monitoring academic performance and providing feedback to the research conducted. The RAC is composed of: a primary supervisor or co-supervisors along with additional faculty members within or beyond the College with expertise in the area of research that the student is conducting.  Total Master of Science Committee membership should be 4 as a minimum; for a PhD program, 5-6 members are needed pending expertise required.   Health Sciences Graduate Students should have 2 Research Advisory Committee meetings per academic year.   Regular RAC meetings are meant to ensure that each student's program of studies is on track.  In general, students are expected to complete a Master’s program of study in 2 to 3 years.  A PhD Program would take 4 – 6 years to complete

 

At the first committee meeting the research advisory committee will ensure:

  • Supervisor/Student Contract is complete 
  • Course requirements are reviewed
  • Research Proposal is reviewed and committee ensures that the proposal is complete with associated timelines for milestones.


The graduate student must prepare a written report and submit is to their advisory committee members one week prior to each advisory committee meeting.  At the research advisory committee meeting the student must provide a 10 – 15 minute PowerPoint presentation. The presentation is immediately followed by questions from the committee members.  The frequent RAC meetings provide the student with access to a broad range of expertise and helps builds relationships with each of the faculty members who are experts in the field of study.  The frequent presentations, questions and answer sessions prepare the student well for their external exam.

Core Courses & Credit Unit Requirements

The focus of the Health Sciences Graduate Programs is Research.  Therefore students are not required to complete an arduous number of courses.  Students wishing to complete an MSc in the Health Sciences program will need to complete 9 credit units (3 – 3 credit courses). To complete a PhD program in Health Sciences a student must have completed a minimum of 12 credit units.   A student may be considered for a transfer from a Master’s Program to a PhD Program, after the first year of study provided they have completed 9 credit units of course work and  their research is going well.  Approval is obtained from the student’s supervisor and research advisory committee and The College of Graduate Studies and Research.  Students transferring from a Health Sciences MSc Program to a Health Sciences PhD Program are only required to complete an additional 3 credit units, for a total of 12 credit units during their entire program of studies.  The focus of the Health Sciences Graduate Programs is Research.  Therefore students are not required to complete an arduous number of courses.

 

MSc and PhD in Health Sciences Curriculum

 

HSC 801.3 - Essentials for Conducting Life/Health Research

This course provides best practices for conducting research in the health/life sciences and detailed information will include: academic dishonesty, intellectual property & commercialization of research; human & animal research ethics; interdisciplinary research. Students will be asked to write a mini grant proposal as their final submission in lieu of a final exam to test research ideas and writing skills.

CLR 800.3 – Clinical Research Methodologies (distance education)

This Blackboard LS delivered course is designed to provide awareness, understanding and skill development in various clinical research methods including: study design, quantitative, measurements , clinical trials, qualitative methodologies, community-based participatory research, Aboriginal research, research ethics, communication skills, N=1 studies, quality assessment and knowledge translation. This course is directed for students conducting a patient/individual/community-based or translational project. (See course modification form in course outline section post-appendix).

Students must complete EITHER HSC 801 or CLR 800.3  Program credits will only be given for ONE of these courses.

 

CHEP 805.3 - Biostatistics I

This course is designed for life sciences students who wish to understand and apply the commonly used advanced statistical methods to data, which they are likely to encounter in their career. The emphasis is on the appropriate application of these research methods and the correct interpretation of their results.  Permission to take an alternate statistics course or omit a statistics course must be pre-approved by the student’s research advisory committee and the Assistant Dean of Research in the College of Medicine.

 

All Graduate Students must register for the noncredit Health Sciences 990.0 Seminar Course during the fall and winter terms.  The remaining required credit units are classes as chosen by the student/supervisor/research advisory committee

 

HSC 990.0: Seminar
The Seminar Series is mandatory for all Graduate Students at the University of Saskatchewan. The Health Science Seminar series aims to provide flexibility for the student to meet the seminar requirements.  Health Sciences Students must submit (to Health Sciences Graduate Coordinator’s office) 10 seminar reports. The bulk of the seminars is the student's choice and selected as relevant to the student's research.  The Health Sciences Graduate programs hosts several seminars in Term 2 of each academic year. This seminar course will include presentations by guest speakers from inside and external to the College to supplement and will include further information of ethics, career development, mentoring, Tri-Council funding regulations, and communication skills. Student attendance is required and participation in the discussions will be emphasized. Students must also give one public presentation, as scheduled by our office, of their research work during the course of their graduate programming.  

 

Students wishing to complete an MSc in the Health Sciences program will need to complete 9 credit units (3 – 3 credit courses). 

To complete a PhD program in Health Sciences a student must have completed a minimum of 12 credit units.   

 

A student may be considered for a transfer from a Master’s Program to a PhD Program, after the first year of study provided they have completed 9 credit units of course work and  their research is going well.  Approval is obtained from the student’s supervisor and research advisory committee and The College of Graduate Studies and Research.  Students transferring from a Health Sciences MSc Program to a Health Sciences PhD Program are only required to complete an additional 3 credit units, for a total of 12 credit units during their entire program of studies.

 

There are no application deadlines for the Health Sciences Graduate Program. Students are accepted at the beginning of each Academic Term. Applications take approximately eight weeks to review and process.  International applications may take longer.  Applicants to the Program will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Executive Committee of Health Sciences Programs, College of Medicine.

 

Prior to being accepted as Health Sciences students all applicants must have first been accepted by an University of Saskatchewan Faculty Member.  Students are required to contact University of Saskatchewan Faculty with research interests similar to their own,  to discuss the possibility of being a student under their guidance and supervision.  Student applicants may email faculty with research information.  Interested faculty will return the email if there are any openings for new students.  Once All application information is processed after each student applicant has found an University of Saskatchewan Faculty Member Supervisor.  The University of Saskatchewan faculty advisor must have funding for the student’s proposed project.  Either the student or the U of S Faculty Advisor must have additional funding for the student’s stipend. 

 

Master of Science Admission Requirements

-         a four-year honours degree, or equivalent, from a recognized college or university in an academic discipline relevant to the proposed field of study

-         a cumulative weighted average of at least a 70% (U of S grade system equivalent) in the last two years of study (i.e. 60 credit units)

-         Language Proficiency Requirements: Proof of English proficiency is required for international applicants and for applicants whose first language is not English.

Master of Science Degree Requirements

  • Students must maintain continuous registration in the HSC 994 course for all terms until graduation
  • GSR 960.0
  • GSR 961.0 if research involves human subjects
  • GSR 962.0 if research involves animal subjects
  • a minimum of 9 credit units, including:
    • HSC 801.3 or CLR 800.3
    • HSC 990.0 seminar
    • HSC 994.0
    • CHEP 805.3 Biostatistics training – if student does not have previous graduate level Biostatistics training
      An Alternative course to CHEP 805.3 must be pre-approved by Research Advisory Committee and Health Sciences Program Head
    • 3-6 credit un\its of electives, depending on the Students biostatistics training
    • M.Sc. thesis defense

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Admission Requirements

-          Master’s degree, or equivalent, from a recognized university in a relevant academic discipline

-          a cumulative weighted average of at least a 70% (U of S grade system equivalent) in the last two years of study (i.e. coursework required in Master’s program)

-          Language Proficiency Requirements: Proof of English proficiency may be required for international applicants and for applicants whose first language is not English.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)Degree Requirements

  • Students must maintain continuous registration in the HSC 996 course for all terms until graduation
  • GSR 960.0
  • GSR 961.0 if research involves human subjects
  • GSR 962.0 if research involves animal subjects
  • minimum of 12 credit units, including:
    • HSC 801.3 or CLR 800.3
    • HSC 990.0 seminar
    • HSC 996.0
    • CHEP 805.3 Biostatistics training – if student does not have previous graduate level Biostatistics training
      Any Alternative course to CHEP 805.3 must be pre-approved by Research Advisory Committee and Health Sciences Program Head
  • Qualification Exam
  • Comprehensive exam
  • Ph.D. thesis defense

Transfer from Master's degree to Ph.D.Degree Requirements

Students must maintain continuous registration in the HSC 996 course for all terms until graduation

  • GSR 960.0
  • GSR 961.0 if research involves human subjects
  • GSR 962.0 if research involves animal subjects
  • a minimum of 12 credit units, including:
    • HSC 801.3 or CLR 800.3
    • HSC 990.0
    • HSC 996.0
    • CHEP 805.3 Biostatistics training – if student does not have previous graduate level Biostatistics training
      Alternative course to CHEP 805.3 must be pre-approved by Research Advisory Committee and Health Sciences Program Head
  • Qualification Examination
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Ph.D. thesis defense

Application Package Requirements

Applicants are asked to complete the online application form and pay an application fee as shown on The College of Research and Graduate Studies website at  http://www.usask.ca/cgsr/  After completion of  the Online Application Form from the College of Graduate Studies  Research. All application documents are submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator in The College of Medicine.  Documents required include:

 

-          Two official copies of all post-secondary transcripts must be sent directly to Graduate Program Coordinators Office

-          A current curriculum vitae

-          A brief essay (approximately 1-2 pages) outlining research interests, academic goals, and reasons for pursuing this graduate program

-          Students, whose first language is not English, must demonstrate English language proficiency. Registration in a graduate program will not be permitted until official test results have been received

-          Student applicants should obtain an acceptable test score before entering Canada.  Detailed information regarding required test scores is available on the University of Saskatchewan, College of Research and Graduate Studies Website      

-          Together with their proposed supervisor applicants are asked to prepare a three page research proposal that includes: Title of project, Background Rationale, Research Hypothesis, Research Methodology, Study Design to be used, Expected Outcomes, Significance & Relevance of the Project.

-          The Faculty Supervisor will also be asked to submit a letter of support for the student's application.  The letter should outline the source for the project funding and provide information regarding the student's financial support.  Faculty supervisors must also provide a list of the faculty members who will be a part of the student's research advisory committee.  The Committee Chairperson should be familiar with the Health Sciences graduate programs policies and procedures  

General Email: angie.zoerb@usask.ca:
Angela Zoerb
Graduate Program Coordinator
College of Medicine
2D01 Health Sciences Building
Mail: Box 19 Health Sciences Building
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, SK, Canada, S7N 5E5


Phone: 306 966-6957 Fax: 306 966-6164

Graduate Research

Presently, members of the Howland Laboratory are working in two main areas:

1. Effects of acute stress on cognition and synaptic plasticity:

The neurobiological mechanisms enabling cognition remain poorly characterized. Converging lines of evidence suggest that various forms of synaptic plasticity may underlie cognitive processes such as learning and memory, although direct evidence supporting this hypothesis is lacking. As a result, novel experimental models and pharmacological tools to test these mechanisms are critically needed. Acute stress has profound and complex effects on learning and memory, as well as synaptic plasticity. Therefore, understanding how acute stress influences learning and memory will provide insight into the neurobiological mechanisms underlying cognition. Experiments performed in this line of research focus on understanding the effects of acute stress on cognition and synaptic plasticity using a combination of sensitive behavioral testing, in vivo extracellular electrophysiology recording techniques, and novel pharmacological strategies in rodent models. These experiments will significantly improve our understanding of advanced cognitive functions from an integrated behavioural and physiological perspective. This research is funded by an NSERC Discovery Grant.

2. Neurodevelopmental models of severe psychiatric illness:

Psychiatric illness severely affects many thousands of Canadians. Increased understanding of the causes of psychiatric illness may aid in the goal of developing improved treatments or preventative therapies. Adverse events early in life are strongly associated with psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and autism. Recent evidence provides direct support for the role of prenatal infection (i.e., exposure to an infection while in utero) as a predisposing factor for psychiatric illness in the offspring. Experiments performed in this line of research seek to further understand the specific consequences of prenatal infection using a rat model of viral infection. Discrete measures of cognition are correlated with electrophysiological recordings from brain areas thought be involved in neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders (i.e., hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens) in rats whose mothers were exposed to either a viral mimetic compound or a control treatment while pregnant. In addition, the effects of novel therapeutic strategies are also tested. These experiments will significantly increase understanding of the consequences of prenatal infection and potentially provide novel avenues for prevention of psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and autism. This research is funded by a CIHR Operating Grant.

You can visit the Howland Lab webpage here.

The Eames lab uses molecular genetics and advanced imaging techniques to understand how skeletal tissues develop and evolve.  A general focus of the lab is on skeletal cell differentiation. 

  • What are the external signals that direct undifferentiated cells to turn into bone or cartilage cells? 

  • How are these signals interpreted by cells to activate pathways of differentiation?

On the one hand, the Eames lab is interested in applying answers to these questions to such debilitating diseases as osteoarthritis.  On the other hand (and these hands know each other), the Eames lab is interested to know how these same answers vary among chordate clades.

Dr. Desai's lab is conducting research on the pathological effect of methylglyoxal, which is a highly reactive metabolite produced mainly during glucose and fructose metabolism. We are also studying endothelial dysfunction under conditions of high carbohydrate diets, and developing preventative strategies against hyperfructosemia - and hypreglycemia - induced pathology.

The Chelico lab studies a family of enzymes (called APOBEC3 enzymes) that have the ability to mutate DNA by altering cytosine to become uracil. The APOBEC3 enzymes are used for our benefit since their DNA mutating activity is intended for invading viruses, such as HIV. We study how these enzymes can mutatuonally inactivate HIV from a biochemical and cellular perspective.

However, this efficient viral restriction system comes at a cost. APOBEC3 enzymes can also act at the wrong place or wrong time, which can lead to mutations in the genomic DNA and may induce cell transformation (cancer). So, part of our research goal is to identify how often the APOBEC3 enzymes have access to and induce mutations in genomic DNA.

We are currently studying the regulation of voltage-gated ion channel targetin (e.g., the "pacemaker channels" HCN2, HCN4 above) by the endocytic protein endophilin 1, and how this interaction modulated neuronal excitability and synaptic plasticity. We use confocal imaging microscopy, electrophisiology, molecula biology and biochemical techniques.

Contact Us

   Graduate Programs

   Graduate Chair/Director

   Graduate Support Staff

   Anatomy and Cell Biology    Dr. Helen Nichol
   helen.nichol@usask.ca 966-1344
   Evelyn Bessel
   biomed.grad@usask.ca 966-4110
   Biochemistry    Dr. Ramji Khandelwal
   
ramji.khandelwal@usask.ca 966-4368
   Margaret Strohan
   margaret.strohan@usask.ca 966-6379
   Community Health & Epidemiology    Dr. Bonnie Janzen
   bonnie.janzen@usask.ca 966-7841
   Cindy Elchuk
   cindy.elchuk@usask.ca 966-7946
   Microbiology & Immunology    Dr. Wei Xiao
   
wei.xiao@usask.ca 966-4309
   Evelyn Bessel
   biomed.grad@usask.ca 966-4110
   Pharmacology    Dr. Venkat Gopalakrishnan
   venkat.gopal@usask.ca 966-6293
   Evelyn Bessel
   biomed.grad@usask.ca 966-4110
   Physiology    Dr. Veronica Campanucci
   veronica.campanucci@usask.ca 966-5394
   Evelyn Bessel
   biomed.grad@usask.ca 966-4110
   Health Science    Dr. Angela Busch
   
angela.busch@usask.ca 966-6585
   Angie Zoerb
   angie.zoerb@usask.ca 966-6957