Lead/Instructor: David Ng
Lab Technician: Lucia Quesada-Ramirez

Molecular Biology Workshops

Professional training covering theoretical and practical (hands on) aspects of various molecular techniques.

New Dates for the Molecular Biology Workshop - Apr 29th to May 3rd, 2024 (5 Day Version - $1500 per client). To begin registration, please click this button to leave details.

Days: Monday to Friday
Dates: (tentative) Apr 29th to May 3rd, 2024
Level: Professional Development
Time: 9am – ~5pm daily

Running Late? Please call the lab at 604-822-2809

Max Participants: 12
Meeting Spot: At the AMBL lab at the Michael Smith Building (directions)
Cost: CAN$1500 or equivalent (does not include room and board)

To register, please fill out the following form here

(Scroll down for more details)


“I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop. I learned lots and brushed up on my knowledge and techniques. I also learned “how to teach” and look forward to better communicating how these techniques work. Dave made it fun and and engaging! The week was intense but went by really quickly.”
Nikita Burke, Postdoctoral Fellow, The Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary

“Excellent! For someone with very little background in molecular biology, I was able to follow everything in this workshop. Techniques that were a mystery to me were made clear. Now I understand why people use these techniques and what these outputs mean.”
Christine Weilhoefer, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Portland.

“This is a great course on molecular biology! I feel more confident about my knowledge of different techniques and ability to troubleshoot. It solidified a lot of my theoretical understanding.”
Jessica Lu, Research Program Manager, GenomeBC.

“The course was great! Dave’s teaching style was amazing for conveying the concepts behind the steps in kits and methods. As a result of this course, I feel my understanding of these molecular techniques has been greatly deepened.”
Alex Montgomery, Microbiologist, Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

“An outstanding course (from someone who normally thinks most courses and workshops are a waste of time). Excellent for someone moving from physics or chemistry into molecular biology who wants hands on laboratory technique familiarity. Excellent teaching, great lab support, and good content.”
Thomas Clark, Ph.D Student, Department of Biochemistry, University of British Columbia.

“Instructors demonstrated a real passion for teaching. A great class with thorough, well paced experiments. The information is explained in such a way as to effectively convey complex information in a clear, easy to understand fashion. I wish my university professors were all this good!”
Kenji Hara, Microbiologist, Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

“Well paced, engaging, fun and informative. Great variety of techniques and procedures presented, both low tech and high tech. Lots of hands on work to allow you to get familiar with the protocols. David is a fantastic instructor, and I can’t recommend this course enough.”
Yi Yang, Research Technician, Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, UBC

“This workshop was very thorough and covered an incredibly large amount of topics in a very short time. The information gathered from this workshop will certainly be beneficial in both research and teaching.”
Dr. Dewayne Stennett, Lecturer, Biochemistry, University of the West Indies, Jamaica

“Excellent workshop!! Great balance between lecture and lab, and I was very impressed on the volume of content squeezed into the five days. Dave’s delivery was very good, nice amount of light hearted humour mixed in. Highly recommended!”
David Dunn, Head, Chemistry Services Laboratory, Pacific Forestry Centre, NRC

“Great bootcamp format! I enjoyed the vast range of topics and the balance of lecture and practical hands-on techniques”
Robert Kowbel, Scientific Support Technician, Pacific Forestry Centre, NRC

“This workshop is perfect for both scientists who are new to molecular biology, as well as scientists who want a refresher. Dave has a unique ability to explain every method in a logical way. The atmosphere is absolutely amazing in the workshop. I strongly recommend this course.”
Søs Skovsø, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, University of British Columbia.

More comments from previous molecular biology workshops can be found here.


Workshop Details

DESCRIPTION: This intense 5 day workshop will focus on a myriad of different techniques used in the molecular manipulation of DNA (general cloning, transformation, silica kits, pI kits, PCR, qPCR), RNA (isolation, reverse transcription) and protein (SDS-PAGE, 2D gels), as well as lectures that will describe some high throughput technologies such as SNP analysis, and next generation sequencing. Primarily aimed at researchers who are new to the area, familiar but require a quick updating, or theoretically familiar but lacking in practical bench training. Note: That this session will also include hands-on content around Next Gen Sequencing (specifically around the use of the MinION nanopore sequencing systems).

PHILOSOPHY: Whilst molecular techniques have evolved at a blindingly fast rate over the last few decades, the underlying biochemical principles behind the vast majority of them have actually changed little. This workshop therefore combines opportunities to perform the latest, as well as commonly used older techniques, with particular attention to the chemical nuts and bolts behind them. In all, this allows the researcher to not only gain needed practical hands-on familiarity with the techniques, but also achieve a comfortable theoretical level to allow for both (1) that all important skill of troubleshooting, and (2) the often undervalued skill of judging the utility of “tricks” that aim to speed up, or lower costs of a given methodology.


(Note that lectures are a mix of videos and in-person)

1.1 DNA: General Info
1.2 DNA: General Workflow

2.1 DNA: Genomic/Plasmid
2.2 DNA: Cell Lysis
2.3A DNA: Nucleic Acid Purification
2.3B DNA: Nucleic Acid Purification
2.4 DNA: Precipitation
2.5 DNA: Quantitation
2.6 DNA: Agarose Gel Electrophoresis

3.1 CLONING: What is a Vector?
3.2 CLONING: Choosing a Vector I
3.3 CLONING: Choosing a Vector II
3.4 CLONING: Gene Editing: CRISPR/Cas9
3.4 CLONING: Plasmid Preps

4.1A ENZYMES: RE Digests I
4.1B ENZYMES: RE Digests II
4.2 ENZYMES: Ligases/Phosphatases


6.1 PROTEINS: General Info
6.3 PROTEINS: Western Blot
6.4 PROTEINS: 2D Gel Electrophoresis

7.1 RNA: General Info
7.2 RNA: Isolation and Purification
7.3 RNA: Gene Expression

8.1 PCR: The Basics
8.2 PCR: The Specifics
8.3 PCR: Troubleshooting
8.4 PCR: qPCR (real time PCR)
8.5 PCR: Digital PCR

9.1 SEQUENCING: The basics
9.2 SEQUENCING: Next Gen Sequencing

APPENDIX A: Replication
APPENDIX B: Hybridation/Stringency



LAB A: POLYMERASE CHAIN REACTION: Technical elements and nuances for successful PCR-based procedures.

LAB B: CLONING TECHNIQUES: Including ligations, transformations, plasmid preps, etc.

LAB C: RNA WORK: Isolation/purification and reverse transcriptase assay. qPCR.

LAB D: 2D GEL ELECTROPHORESIS: 1D strip loading, IEF run, and 2nd dimension PAGE.


LAB NGS: NEXT GEN SEQUENCING: 16s microbiome analysis of soil sample. Library prep, Fragment clonal amplification, and nanopore based sequencing.


Workshop will begin each day at 9am sharp and usually end sometime before 6:00pm. A detailed final schedule and syllabus will be released to clients as the date draws nearer.

DAY 1:
am/pm: LAB A: DNA fingerprint assay (polymerase chain reaction)
pm: LAB D1: 2D protein gels (strip hydration)

DAY 2:
am: LAB D2: 2D protein gels (IEF focusing)
am: LAB B1: Ligation set up
am: LAB B2: Transformation procedures
pm: LAB NGS1: Sampling and Library prep

DAY 3:
am/pm: LAB C1: Total RNA prep | LAB C2: Reverse Transcriptase + qPCR.
pm: LAB B3: Look at plates and set up cultures
pm: LAB E1: SDS PAGE gels (pouring gels)
pm: LAB NGS2: 16s amplicon check and clean up. MinION seq run

DAY 4:
am: LAB B4: Mini Plasmid preparations
am/pm: LAB D3: 2D protein gels (2nd dimension)
pm: LAB E2: SDS PAGE gels (Running and transfer of proteins)

DAY 5:
am: LAB E3: Western blot analysis.
am: LAB NGS3: 16s microbiome data analysis.
pm: SPECIAL LECTURE BLOCK (covering various high through put technologies, including Next Gen Sequencing, microarrays, SNP analysis, comparative genomics, proteomics, etc)

NOTE: For a frame of reference, you can also see the lab procedures in more detail by referring to our molecular biology (PATH547) graduate course lecture notes, and lab manual.


LOCATION: Located in the heart of the UBC campus, the Michael Smith Laboratories is a testament to the vision of its founding Director, Dr. Michael Smith. Under his leadership, a gifted team of young scientists were recruited. These scientists have gone on to develop internationally renowned programs of research and training. The second and third floors of the new building are dedicated to the research facilities of the former Biotechnology Laboratory. The Stewart and Marilyn Blusson Education Forum is located on the ground floor and is open to the public. The molecular techniques workshops are held in the teaching lab, room 105 of this forum. (click here for detailed directions)

Registration is essentially initiated by filling out the following form. From there, you’ll receive an invoice will be sent for payment. Your place in the workshop is essentially secured when payment arrives. This would be a CAN$1500 cheque (or equivalent) payable to “The University of British Columbia.” Note that we are unable to accept credit card payments.

Dr. David Ng
Michael Smith Laboratories
301-2185 East Mall,
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, CANADA V6T 1Z3

Note that we can accommodate between 8 and 16 clients, but on occasion, some of these spaces are already reserved for predetermined group clients. Therefore, it’s best to put your name down as soon as possible if you are interested in the workshop.

We can provide a full refund if we receive a notice of cancellation 4 weeks prior to the date of the workshop. In an attempt the mitigate pandemic uncertainties (including whether a client or an instructor becomes exposed, infected, sick, etc), last minute cancellations will not result in a refund, but your payment will count as credit for future molecular biology workshops. However, please be considerate of letting us know any change in attendance status ASAP, since these workshops are our primary mechanism for outreach fund raising.

MATERIALS: All paper materials will be provided on the first day of the workshop. Downloadable pdf versions will be available about 3 weeks before the workshop begins. Whilst we do not require the clients to “study” these documents, we do ask that clients take a moment to peruse the first day practical materials. All safety gear (including lab coats) is provided at the workshop.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Here are some accommodation options that are basically on campus. Costs involved would vary (I think the most budget option would be the Vancouver Youth Hostel which is about a 15 minute bus ride away). The closest would be those of Gage through UBC conferences. The others (except for point grey house) are all a relatively short walk away.

UBC accomodations (on campus)
St. John’s College (on campus)
Green College (on campus)
St. Andrew’s Hall (summer only)
Point Grey House (off campus, but only 10 minute bus ride away)
International Youth Hostel at Jericho Beach
airbnb (search “UBC”)

Alternatively, Downtown Vancouver offers a variety of accommodation options, but would entail about a 30-40 minute bus ride each way. Depends on your preference since the Campus is pretty quiet at night time, whereas other areas would be more interesting. Go to www.expedia.ca, and select:

hotel > near an attraction/vancouver > type in “University of British Columbia”

Usually the out of town clients make use of a little extra time after or before the workshop in visiting some of the sights Vancouver has to offer. I often strongly recommend this since the city and surrounding locale are really quite spectacular. In particular Whistler-Blackcomb is a world famous ski/outdoor resort, and is only a 2 hour drive away. Ski season usually opens in mid November (click here for more info)