Curriculum – Internships

NSERC-CREATE Internships

nserc_crsngNotification for Faculty 

Call for applications: UBC/SFU NSERC Bioinformatics CREATE intake 2018

Opportunity for one-year scholarships with internships for MSc and PhD students in bioinformatics.
Application deadline: April 30, 2017

This program is for students who have already been accepted or enrolled into an eligible graduate program at UBC or SFU supervised by a full faculty member. It is not awarded to students who have not identified an eligible research supervisor. For details on the program, please visit Questions about the program should be directed to Paul Pavlidis ( Sharon Ruschkowski (

Students funded by our CREATE do a three-month internship (during the year of funding), “in a laboratory environment in which they will experience first-hand the challenges and excitement of applying bioinformatics to front-line high-dimensional biology research”. The primary goal is to provide a breadth of training to the student, but also to increase engagement of our faculty in research in NSERC strategic areas in the life sciences.

Because of course scheduling, for new incoming students the internship would generally be expected to happen during the summer at the end of the student’s first year (for this cycle, that will be Summer 2018). For second year and beyond students the timing of the internships is at the discretion of the student and supervisor but must take place within the period of funding.

Stipends ($22,000 for MSc; $25,000 for PhD) will be provided for one year (12 months), after which funding the student will be the responsibility of the sponsoring faculty member. Each scholarship holder will also receive a one-time award of up to $500 towards conference travel expenses, which can be spent any time during the first two years of the student’s time in the program.

The following timeline gives an overview of the process for new incoming students:


For applications from current students the deadline is the same, and funding would also start in September. Applications are to be prepared by the student’s supervisor
 Application process

To have a candidate considered, please provide/affirm the following information (there is no “form”):
1. The sponsoring faculty member must be a “full member” listed at “Associate members” are not eligible (though they can host internships). Multiple students can be put forward from a single faculty member.
2. Document the eligibility of the student. The candidate must have already been accepted to the corresponding graduate program at SFU or UBC (MSc or PhD starting training between January
1 2018 and September 1 2018 inclusive) OR a student who is in their second or subsequent year of the program and having at least one year remaining in their training.
3. Provide a proposal for the internship; this quality and fit of this proposal will be part of the
evaluation criteria (see below for more on internship proposals).
4. Provide a provisional thesis topic for the student (50 words)
5. Affirm that once the one-year stipend had run out, they are responsible for the student’s support.
6. Agree that, if the proposal is funded, the title of the internship can be shared on the program website for promotional purposes. A brief report on the outcome of the internship will be required from the student, internship lab and the primary research supervisor’s lab.
7. Students commit to attend and present research at the annual B.I.G. retreat.

Applications will be ranked by the admissions committee, but absolute criteria will also be used to determine the threshold for funding. The top-ranking high-quality candidates will be awarded a one-year stipend. Priority will be given to new incoming students, with additional scholarships to current eligible students as funds permit. We hope to make at least 10 and as many as 15 awards, depending on the number and quality of applicants. Decisions would be made by the end of May 2017.

How to prepare the internship proposal

It is expected that the faculty sponsor will identify and describe the internship plan. We do not
expect incoming students to have their own ideas for an internship.

Please provide:

1. A brief (up to 500 words, about one page) description of the plan for the trainee’s internship. See below for more information.
2. A letter (on official letterhead) from the proposed internship host indicating the intent to provide the internship opportunity, and describing the context for the internship from the host’s perspective. The letter must confirm that the host laboratory will be ready and able to host a productive internship, with resources (e.g. a desk, computer), project (e.g., appropriate data to address the research question) and supervision (e.g., a specific person who will supervise the intern day-to-day).

The evaluation criteria for the internship plan (in addition to the evaluation of the student’s application package) include:

  • Feasibility (appropriate scope)
  • Support of the host site (resources and readiness)
  • Relevance/value of the internship to the student’s training
  • Relevance to NSERC strategic areas.

Proposal guidelines

  • Faculty can identify the internship opportunity themselves, but there may be some capacity for the program to help find hosts though contacts with appropriate departments at UBC and SFU.
  • Include the proposed dates for the internship. Internships must be at least 3 months, but can be up to 4 months.
  •  Include a brief description of the scientific goals of the internship and the training received and benefits to the student.
  • Internships can be in academia, government or industry, either locally or outside of the region.
  • Internships cannot be hosted by full program faculty.
  • We anticipate that one type of internship would have students working in the laboratory of a collaborator, but any opportunity for the student to get experience working beyond the confines of their primary supervisor’s lab can be considered.
  • The intent is not that trainees would be doing wet-bench work, but they would work closely with data generators (or other bioinformatics “users”) in a setting that gives them an extended opportunity to exercise their bioinformatics skillswhile enhancing (in depth and/or breadth) their biological and computational domain knowledge.
  • The internship does not need to be directly connected to the thesis research or topic. Internships that take the student outside their (or their supervisor’s) “comfort zone” will be viewed favorably (all else being equal).
  • We acknowledge that interns may be in an environment where they are the “bioinformatics expert” despite having less than a year of graduate school. In such situations, it is expected (and relevant to the goals of the program) that the thesis supervisor will be engaged with the host lab as necessary to support the intern. This engagement should be reflected in the proposal.
  • Note that during the internship, the student ‘s attention will not be on their thesis project. They are expected to work full-time on the internship. Supervisors should plan for this.
  • There is no expectation of financial support from the host; the student will be funded by the
    CREATE program