Gastrointestinal Sciences

Gastrointestinal Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Thesis-based program

Program overview

Doctoral students in the Gastrointestinal Sciences program gain a deep understanding of normal digestive function, including the mechanisms responsible for dysfunction and the development of disease. Students work with highly-skilled scientists on research into illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis/Crohn’s Disease), irritable bowel disease, and bacterial (such as clostridium difficile) or parasitic (helminthes and giardiasis) infections. The wide range of program specializations reflects the diversity of research interests and disciplinary strengths of our faculty and students.

Students participate in journal clubs, research groups, interdisciplinary training and professional development activities.

Completing this program

  • Courses: Topics may include gastrointestinal physiology and others.
  • Research Ethics: Students are required to attend Research Integrity Day sessions in the first year of their program.
  • Sex & Gender Module: Students are required to complete one of the CIHR sex and gender online training modules found at in the first year of their program.
  • Candidacy: Students will complete both oral and written candidacy exams.
  • Seminar: Students will regularly attend the Snyder Graduate Program Seminar Series.
  • Research proposal: Students must defend a written research proposal to their supervisory committee.
  • Thesis: Students will be required to submit and defend an original research thesis.


  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Immunology
  • Immunopharmacology
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Parasitology
  • Pathology
  • Epidemiology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions


Pharmaceutical industry – researcher, project manager; academia, including post-doctoral research; government, consulting, public health.

A PhD in gastrointestinal sciences is usually considered a final degree; many graduates pursue post-doctoral research.

Thesis-based program

Students are required to prepare a thesis and successfully defend in an open oral defense.


One course, depending on the student's background

Learn more about program requirements in the Academic Calendar

Classroom delivery

Time commitment

Four years full-time; six years maximum


A supervisor is required, and must agree to oversee the student's research before the student applies for admission

Fees and funding

See the Graduate Calendar for information on fees and fee regulations, and for information on awards and financial assistance.

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Learn about faculty available to supervise this degree.

  1. Herman Barkema

    Herman Barkema

    Accepting Inquiries
  2. Prasanth Chelikani

    Prasanth Chelikani

    Accepting Inquiries
    Obesity, Diabetes, Nutrition
  3. Placeholder Profile Image

    Jeroen De Buck

    Accepting Inquiries
  4. Markus Geuking

    Markus Geuking

    Microbiota Immune Crosstalk
  5. Simon Hirota

    Simon Hirota

    Seeking Students
    Microbial metabolite sensors and the regulation of gut function, The regulation of mesenchymal cell populations by NR4A1 - identifying new treatments for intestinal fibrosis and remodelling in IBD, Generating novel models to assess the pathogenesis of Johne’s disease
  6. NK

    Nargis Khan

    Accepting Inquiries
    Immunology, Infectious Diseases, Innate Immunity, Trained Immunity
  7. Justin MacDonald

    Justin MacDonald

    Accepting Inquiries
    Vascular smooth muscle biology, Chronic inflammation, Chemoproteomic drug discovery
  8. Derek McKay

    Derek McKay

    Seeking Students
    Helminth Regulation of Gut Function, Use of Macrophages to Treat Colitis, Metabolic Stress and the Control of Epithelial Function
  9. Pierre-Yves von der Weid

    Pierre-Yves von der Weid

    The lymphatic system and its roles in inflammation and inflammatory diseases

Admission requirements


A minimum of 3.3 GPA on a 4.0 point system, over the past two years of full-time study (a minimum of 10 full-course equivalents or 60 units) of the undergraduate degree.

Minimum education

An MSc or equivalent from a recognized institution.

Work samples



C.V. and Confirmation of Funding from the proposed supervisor

Reference letters


Test scores


English language proficiency

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:


For admission on May 1:

  • Canadians and permanent residents: Mar. 1 application deadline
  • International students: Dec. 1 application deadline

For admission on September 1:

  • Canadians and permanent residents: June 1 application deadline
  • International students: Apr. 1 application deadline

For admission on January 1:

  • Canadians and permanent residents: Oct. 1 application deadline
  • International students: Aug. 1 application deadline

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Learn more about this program

Gastrointestinal Sciences graduate program

Graduate Science Education (Foothills Campus)
HSC G345A, 3330 Hospital Drive NW
Calgary, AB T2N 4N1

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the departmental website


Cumming School of Medicine

Health Sciences Centre
Foothills Campus, University of Calgary
Calgary, ABT2N 4N1

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