Biomedical sciences and biotechnology

  • Duration: 3 years
  • Admission: academic qualifications and interview
  • Coordinator: prof. Paolo Pinton
  • Head office: Università di Ferrara
  • Study abroad: at least 1 month
  • Educational purpose: the PhD program in Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnology  aims at training young scientists to meet the demand of experts in the rapidly growing field of  life, biomedical and clinical sciences. The fellows, through the training program devised to also promote independent thinking, critical appraisal, personal responsibility and decision making in a context of  interdisciplinary programs, will obtain top level research experience and technical skills with positive long term implications for career prospects and employability. PhD students will be prepared as I) molecular and cellular biologists with an integrated view of Basic research in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, Genetics and Genomics, and will be well trained in cutting-edge technologies in Cellular and Molecular Hematology, Genomics, Proteomics, Bioinformatics; II) biotechnologists who will also employ the most advanced techniques in the fields of industrial production of biopharmaceutical products; III) experts in molecular physiopathology of the endocrine, nervous and vascular systems, developing a wide range of technological and professional skills required to work at the forefront of cell neurobiology and of the integrated functions of the nervous system, of respiratory physiopathology and biology applied to exercise, of vascular diseases and of tissue regeneration. The core PhD programme activity is the experimental work, basis for the PhD thesis.
  • Curriculum:
    1) Cellular biochemistry and molecular pathology
    2) Biotechnology
    3) Physiopathological and molecular bases of integrated functions of endocrine, nervous and vascular systems
  • Educational plan: students will work closely with their tutors and attend lectures, demonstrations  and seminars at the departments involved, as well as outside of them. Classes and workshops will be conducted by members of the Academic Board, by experts of qualified national and international institutions and of  biomedical companies.
    Each student will participate in the drafting and implementation of a research project under the supervision of one or more members of the Board of teachers. Since the first year, students are encouraged to improve their knowledge by attending lessons relevant to their area of ​​research. Attendance at lectures, seminars and demonstrations will be planned together with the tutor depending on the cultural background and interests of the student, and the research project chosen. It is expected that the PhD student will achieve the required credits (CFU), both compulsory and optional, in a flexible manner dictated by the research activities undertaken and the objectives set. The acquisition  of complementary skills is also planned, such as advanced use of the English language, competence to present results and to prepare papers and funding applications, ability to enhance career opportunities.
    The scientific activity is based on experiments carried out in the areas of the most advanced research in basic, translational and clinical research in the laboratories of the Departments under the supervision of a tutor. The research is supplemented by periods of training in foreign laboratories for a mandatory minimum of one month and a maximum of 18 months. The option of exchanging know-how with one industry in the biomedical sector is also provided.
    Programme monitoring and Quality Control
    A Supervisory Board (SB) will be formed by 3 PI, one from each curriculum, and one representative from the group of the Ph D students in oder to  ascertain that the skills requirements are  defined. It will also oversee the quality and quantity of  supervision, and will be vigilant to appropriate exploitation of results  and  outputs. The SB will review every six months the efficiency and adequacy of the organization and management structure. The management structure  of the course will promote  the monitoring of the progress in research and training activities. Should problems arise, this structure will help to identify these rapidly and to resolve them in collaboration with the partners involved. The SB will actively coordinate  and analyze the progress of the students  in accordance with their respective tutors and will also collect feedback by the PhD fellows on the quality of the courses, workshops and meetings, and will use it to improve subsequent events. The SB will monitor the timely achievement of the proposed deliverables and milestones, the latter representing  control points where decisions may need to be taken regarding the future  progress in the project. In case of a delay in the expected progress of a work package, the SB will identify the causes of the delay and will propose and/or  request appropriate modifications to the research/training programme, thereby ensuring that adequate progress is made. Additional research avenues can be pursued where necessary and justifiable, and appropriate technology will be implemented. Contingency plans to minimize risks will be in place. A 6-monthly internal report will be drawn up by the SB using information provided by each tutor. The preparation of such reports will serve as  quality control and it will help to assess the progress in the network and  to review the training of the PhD students as well as to assess the scientific outputs in terms of publications and patents.
    The specific points for  the self-assessment are the following:
    A) level of maturity of the students, by assessment of the capacity to use training and take advantage of the cultural and technical learning
    Each student will be required to:
    • Follow the training plan according to the program of the three-year period
    • Attend at least 2/3 of the non-compulsory scientific events held as part of the doctoral training, including the seminars held by members of the teaching staff and external experts
    • Attend at least one meeting / year in sector-specific  topics
    • Submit at least a scientific contribution / year in specific meetings
    • Attend at for least 1 month a highly qualified laboratory abroad
    • Demonstrate the progressive improvement of the knowledge of the English language
    • Give, at least once every six months, in-house seminars on the activities undertaken
    • Demonstrate the acquisition of the techniques provided by the curriculum
    • Develop communication skills and ability to interact with the scientific community
    B) Monitoring the ability of the students who have acquired the PhD degree to find suitable placement in the labor market. The SB will annually assess the conditions of employment by interviews in order to acquire useful feedback to improve the course and identify any weaknesses.
    The SB will carry out in-depth surveys in the following ways:
    1) self-evaluation questionnaire to be distributed to students;
    2) interviews with students to verify the level of satisfaction;
    3) survey of the employment conditions of PhD students of previous years, with particular attention to the collection of information on aspects of the training that specifically promoted a  better integration into the labor market;
    4) analysis of drop-outs (if any).
  • Research topics:
    Curriculum 1
    Gene structure and expression.
    Biomolecular structure
    Enzymatic catalysis
    Cell Metabolism and bioenergetic pathways
    Pathologic Basis of neoplastic and degenerative diseases
    Curriculum 2
    Protein Engineering
    Modulation of gene expression and development of innovative therapies
    Molecular Virology
    Cellular and animal models of human disease and development of therapeutic strategies
    Biomedical and diagnostic biotechnologies and advanced  biomedical instrumentations
    Plant and agri-food biotechnologies
    Curriculum 3
    Cell neurobiology and biophysics
    Physiology, physiopathology and clinics of integrated functions of the nervous system
    Clinical physiopathology of the nervous system
    Respiratory physiopathology and biology applied to exercise
    Exercise and vascular diseases
    Tissue regeneration sciences