Developmental Biology

Collaborative Specialization

Meet Claire Young, MSc candidate in Developmental Biology

“Western does a great job of balancing academic and research success with community and social involvement.”

Supervisor: Christopher Pin

Why did you come to Western for your graduate degree?
I have always loved being a part of the Western community, and more specifically, the Schulich community. During my undergraduate years I gained exposure to the research environment at Western, and had the opportunity to develop my own independent research project. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of my lab, and I felt that completing a graduate degree here would allow me to continue to grow and develop as a person and student, while making my own small contribution to the research field.

Do you engage in volunteer activities?
My main volunteer activity is through Ronald McDonald Family Room in the Victoria Hospital.I serve as a volunteer in this role to help run the Family Room on the pediatric floor, which is open to patient families as a comforting space to relax and rest, so that they can be there for their child.

Describe your research.
My work focuses on the pancreatic acinar cell, and epigenetic changes which can occur to influence susceptibility to pancreatic disease. Epigenetics refers to changes that modify gene expression without altering the DNA sequence. I study a chromatin remodeling protein, ATRX, which helps to maintain the genomic stability of the acinar cell.

Do you belong to any university or community groups?
I belong to Strong Bones, Strong Minds, Strong Muscles (SBSMSM) committee, whose mandate is to deliver science and research awareness to the community. I participate in the Raising Hope subcommittee, which brings science based activities to the pediatric patients at Victoria Hospital.

What is it about your grad program that enables you to thrive and be successful?
My graduate program fosters a collaborative environment that allows me to develop as a research trainee. I feel strongly supported by the Schulich community, my fellow lab members and the guidance of my supervisor. There are a lot of funding opportunities available for graduate students, and the program also provides a social environment to help balance life with the demands of a graduate program.

The purpose of the Collaborative Specialization in Developmental Biology is to create a community of graduate students with an interest in Developmental Biology and to provide specific courses to support and teach that community. Our aim is to train Developmental Biologists who will go on to make significant contributions to the field. Our program represents a wide range of interests within Developmental Biology. We have scientists working with embryos during their earliest stages of development as well as a strong group of researchers looking at the development of the late term fetus. Students can be studying the development of invertebrates, fish, amphibians or mammals within the specialization. This diversity will give students a broad and comprehensive experience in the study of how organisms are formed and how these early events can influence later life. The specialization is one of only two in Canada, and the only one to train students at the MSc level.

Program Length

  • Variable

Program Design

  • Full-time or part-time study
  • Thesis-based, course-based or project-based

Funding Information

  • The Collaborative Specialization does not provide additional funding beyond what the student receives through their home department.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition and fee schedules (per term) are posted on the Office of the Registrar's website at

Graduate Student Affordability Calculator

Use this helpful tool to estimate how much money you will need to pay for your tuition, fees, housing, food, and other necessities for a 12-month (three term) academic year.

Admission Requirements

  • Current enrolment in a participating graduate program at Western University.
  • Permission of home department supervisor to participate in the Collaborative Specialization.
  • Supervisor must be an associated faculty member or be willing to become associated with the Specialization.

Additional Requirements

Submit a letter of interest, with an attached CV and official transcripts, to the Director of the Collaborative Specialization outlining your interest in the collaborative specialization and your interest in Developmental Biology. At this stage, we are really looking for a demonstrated interest in the discipline such as a course or research experience that has sparked your interest. Applications to the Developmental Biology specialization can be done at any time after acceptance into the home department graduate program and approval by the supervisor.

Applications should be sent to:

  • Dr. Dean Betts, Director
  • c/o Karen Burrell, Administrative Assistant
  • CHRI, LHSC-VH A5-107
  • 800 Commissioners Road East
  • London, ON N6C 2V5