Anatomy and Cell Biology

Master of Science (MSc)

Meet Tiffany Johnston, MSc candidate in Anatomy and Cell Biology

"I feel it’s important to support your colleagues and lab mates. Celebrate a good talk or when someone publishes. This creates a team environment allowing for more collaboration and support within the lab.”

Why did you come to Western for your graduate degree?
I got exposure to research in my fourth year of undergrad being an undergrad thesis student in Dr. Trevor Shepherd’s lab. I was very interested in the work that the lab does, and enjoyed the lab atmosphere, so I decided to approach Dr. Shepherd about staying on as a Master’s student. Apart from that, I really enjoyed my time at Western as an undergrad. There are many clubs and activities available on campus, making this fairly large school feel like a tight-knit community.

Do you engage in volunteer activities?
I am a volunteer tutor with the Ghanaian Association London Middlesex Homework Club. I also volunteer with Kids Kicking Cancer helping with the programming they offer to children.

Describe your research.
I work for Dr. Shepherd in the Translational Ovarian Cancer Research Lab located at Victoria Hospital. Specially, we focus on studying the metabolic changes that occur in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) spheroids. Spheroids are macroscopic clusters of cells that mediate the metastatic process of EOC. One of the processes that is activated in spheroids is called autophagy (which translates from Greek to “self-eating”). I look at pharmacologically inhibiting this process by targeting autophagy initiation with small molecule inhibitors. Further, I investigate how autophagy inhibition could be combined with chemotherapy as a strategy to prevent metastasis, disease progression, and chemoresistance.

What is it about your grad program that enables you to thrive and be successful?
There are a couple of things. The first would be my colleagues in the Shepherd lab. The lab has a nurturing environment, allowing us to ask questions and bounce ideas off one another. Additionally, my supervisor is very supportive but lets his students work independently. This allows me to build on my problem-solving skills. Another important part is the seminar course that we are required to take in this program. This course is built upon developing presentation skills. This is an essential skill for researchers as clearly presenting findings is what makes research meaningful.

Program Websites

Program Contact

Miranda Fullerton (
Academic Program Coordinator

Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology

Western University
Medical Sciences Rm 443
London, Ontario N6A 5C1

t. 519-661-2111 ext. 81524
f. 519-850-2906

The Anatomy & Cell Biology Program offers a modern collaborative training experience catering to the needs of the individual student pursuing an MSc degree. Our dedicated, award-winning mentors and state-of-the-art facilities provide a rich training environment in which students can immerse themselves in one or more academic disciplines, including cell biology, neurobiology, anatomical sciences, and/ or education scholarship.

The thesis-based option is research-intensive and designed to prepare students for a career as a research scientist in academia or industry.

The project-based option offers a unique clinical training experience consisting of course work, research, and hands-on teaching experience; and is intended to prepare the next generation of medical educators and scholars.

Program Length

  • 5 Terms (Project-based)
  • 6 Terms (Thesis-based)

Program Design

  • Full-time study
  • Project based or thesis-based

Funding Information

Applicants are encouraged to apply for the following scholarships (if eligible):

Tuition and Fees

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

Admission Requirements

  • 4-year honours degree or equivalent, in a Life or Allied Health Science, or a degree in Dentistry, Medicine or Veterinary Science.
  • Minimum 80% (A-) average for the most recent two years of undergraduate study, or the most recent 10 full senior level courses.

Additional Requirements

  • Research experience is recommended for the thesis-based curriculum option.

English Language Proficiency

Applicants whose first language is not English must furnish evidence of their proficiency in the use of the English language:

Application Deadline

Project-based option

  • January 15 - Acceptance notification begins in April and continues until July 31
Thesis-based option

  • January 15 - Summer Term and Fall Term
  • June 1 (pending spots remaining) - Fall Term
  • October 15 - *Winter Term

*Positions are not regularly available for summer/winter terms. Acceptance notifications for the fall term begin in March and continue until July 31.

Fields of Research

  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Anatomy
  • Neurobiology