PhD in Biotechnological, Biocomputational, Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences

Academic Year 2020-2021
Subject area Medical, Pharmaceutical and Veterinary Medical Sciences
Cycle 36
Coordinator Prof.ssa Maria Laura Bolognesi
Language Italian
Duration 3 years
Positions 9 positions. More information in the PhD Programme Table.
Application deadline May 21, 2020 at 01:00 PM (Expired)
Enrolment period From Jul 17, 2020 to Jul 27, 2020
Doctoral programme start date Nov 01, 2020
Operating centre
Main Department
Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology - FaBiT
Associated Departments
Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences - DIMEVET
Mobility abroad
6 months
Research topics

The doctoral course will develop research themes needed to encourage and emphasize the discovery of new therapeutic targets as well as of new drugs and to study their profile of efficacy and safety. The discovery of novel drug targets, in fact, is followed by the creation of new drugs from the study of molecular entities and the examination of receptors, enzymes or intracellular signaling pathways that may contribute to a specific disease and / or its progression. It is proposed to PhD students an integrated cross training, useful for their future employment access in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The themes of the new PhD programme are mainly focused on:

  • studies of living systems or at cellular and molecular level, or on native or recombinant DNA products, by learning about complex biological and biochemical processes;
  • the synthesis, characterization, analysis, delivery, efficacy and safety of new drugs, including those obtained through biotechnology;
  • biocomputational approaches useful to discovery new therapeutic targets and to characterize drug-ligand interactions;
  • the development of pharmacological and toxicological issues focused on the study of the mechanism of action and toxicological aspects of bioactive molecules;
  • studies of genetic and epigenetic profiles in response to drug treatments, evaluation of drug effectiveness and safety, and identification of risk factors associated with chronic degenerative diseases;
  • the development of suitable animal models of diseases for the evaluation of new compounds already studied in in vitro models.


PhD students will, therefore, investigate different areas of biotechnology; they will follow the discovery, synthesis, characterization and analysis of new drug targets and new drugs, including those obtained through the techniques of recombinant DNA and will use the most advanced methods, including a biocomputational approach.

Job opportunities and potential areas of employment
Scientific advance in Biotechnology and Biocomputational, Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, together with the necessity of an interdisciplinary approach to solve research problems in different areas, have given a great deal to the use of biotechnology, search of novel drug targets, drug discovery, synthesis, analysis and delivery in one of the fast growing economic field. In addition, there are fast growing uses in the pharmaceutical and health area, which have been among the first fields to benefit of biotechnology, of the knowledge obtained from biocomputational and drug research relationships. Other relevant areas are industrial factories where biotechnology aims to the development of implants based on the use of microorganisms and to improve molecular and biochemical productive processes. The interdisciplinary organization of the PhD programme and the chosen research topics will provide to the students an education useful to find a job in one or more of the areas above mentioned.
Admission Board

Surname Name University Role email
Bolognesi Maria Laura Università di Bologna Member
Cavalli Andrea Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia Member
Martelli Pier Luigi Università di Bologna Member
Spampinato Santi Mario Università di Bologna Member
De Vivo Marco Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia Substitute
Iotti Stefano Università di Bologna Substitute
Recanatini Maurizio Università di Bologna Substitute
Learning outcomes
The PhD programme will train researchers of high ranking expertise and with a strong background, in the areas of biotechnology and of biocomputational, pharmaceutical and pharmacological studies.
PhD students will be trained in the following areas:
- study of living systems or their endogenous compounds or by products obtained by recombinant DNA;
- discovery of novel targets and the development of innovative drugs, including biotechnological drugs;
- use of analytical and proteomics techniques for the pharmaceutical analysis;
- study of pharmaceutical technologies for drug delivery;
- drug characterization through a pharmaco-toxicological approach.
PhD students should become capable to carry out autonomously a scientific research. One of the major goals is to promote the enrolment of Ph.D. graduates in companies interested to highly qualified experts in the described fields. PhD graduates will also be capable to work in the field of higher education.
Activities to be carried out by Doctoral candidates
PhD programme Committee (Collegio) will assign to each PhD student a supervisor among its members or outside (in this case a co-supervisor among the members of the Committee will be indicated) that will follow his/her research activity. The research project, in one of the field included in one of the areas above mentioned, aims to reach relevant scientific results that will be the object of a final, written thesis. PhD students will present, periodically, the results that have obtained in internal meetings with the Committee to ascertain their knowledge and skills. Furthermore, PhD students will participate to national and international meetings and to specific courses indicated by the Committee and will follow internships in public or private research laboratories to refine their education also by using advanced instrumentation and to raise their future work placement. Finally, PhD students can perform a limited teaching activity, supplementary to one of the official courses of the University of Bologna. Research activity is supported by funds available from the research team assigned to the PhD student. These funds are approx. at least 7.000/10.000 euro per year. The training of PhD students will not be limited only to the scientific research chosen; but it will be promoted a formation that is intersectoral and interdisciplinary. Doctoral students will follow specific courses, exercises and seminars in various scientific areas for at least 70 hours per year and held in part by students or foreign experts. Where appropriate, the PhD students must take courses of the degree courses in Bioinformatics and / or Biotechnology and will acquire the specified credits. In addition, doctoral students will participate in Summer and Winter School of matters relating to their research project and will follow courses for learning how to write, submit and manage scientific projects, bioinformatics, and possibly of scientific English.
Research training activities compliant with the Doctoral programme's learning outcomes
The Ph.D. programme will stimulate scientific collaboration between the PhD students involved in several research projects and will offer them the chance to spin and visits to various research laboratories (especially in the first year). One of the main points of this proposal, in fact, is to favour interdisciplinary projects involving research groups from the University of Bologna and non-academic areas. Doctoral students will spend most of their training period at the University of Bologna. However, there is a minimum stay of six months in academic institutions or in companies. These stages will be useful to Ph.D. students to promote synergies between the partners, strengthen their training and prepare them for a wide range of career options.
Acquisition of transferable skills not research-oriented. Doctoral students will be able to disseminate scientific knowledge among young students of secondary schools and play tutorials for laboratory courses, to develop teaching skills.
soft skills acquisition. The Committee will encourage and follow the training of Ph.D. students also outside the strictly scientific domain. These will have to acquire: autonomy, flexibility / adaptability, ability to plan and organize, to be attentive to detail, on an ongoing basis to learn, demonstrate initiative, communication skills, problem solving, ability to work and collaborate with others, motivate and drag others towards scientific goals, creating consensus and trust between them.
Internationalization features
During the PhD programme (possibly between the second and third year), PhD students are invited to spend at least six months as visiting scholars in a foreign university or research institute, depending on their research interests. The PhD programme foresees to issue a joint title with foreign instates in the frame of specific agreements. Frequently, a foreign professor is present in the committee for the final exam. To promote international exchanges, foreign researchers are frequently invited to held to the PhD students seminars in English. Furthermore, in the frame of the Erasmus Mundus or MCI - Mobility CONFAP Italy programmes, foreign students are hosted to carry out a period of research or the entire PhD programme in any laboratory of the Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology or in any laboratory of the University of Bologna that contributes to this PhD programme. To promote the participation of foreign students to the PhD programme, the call for applications is also written in English and is sent to the main foreign universities with courses in biotechnology, pharmaceutical sciences and drug discovery. Furthermore, the Committee of the PhD Programme promotes student exchanges with other universities with whom have been established scientific exchanges or have hosted PhD students. To inform potential foreign candidates, the call is sent to the major European universities that activate courses in Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences. Finally, the PhD programme will encourage stays of members of the College as a Visiting Professor / Visiting Scientist at foreign universities or research centers for periods longer than 15 days and will contact foreign institutions in reaching forms of international PhD programme. The PhD Committee has confirmed the availability to collaborate with the National Chiao Tung University (Taiwan) University for the issue of double or joint doctoral degrees.
Expected research results and products
PhD students, within the end of the second year should present, as oral communication or poster, the obtained scientific results at least in one or two national or international meetings. At the end of the PhD programme, PhD students can be admitted to the final exam only if they can demonstrate to have presented their research results in three meetings and to have published three papers or to have - ready to be submitted to any scientific journal – two manuscripts. The scientific journals should have an international reputation and included in the Journal Citation Report (Thomson Reuters). Furthermore, PhD students are encouraged to publish book chapter and to contribute to patents and to set up scientific software connected with their scientific themes developed during the PhD programme. The published papers or the manuscript of each PhD students will be sent to the Committee that will confer the PhD degree.
Doctoral programme Academic Board
Surname Name University/Institution Qualification
Bartolini Manuela Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Bolognesi Maria Laura Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Brigidi Patrizia Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Fato Romana Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Forni Monica Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Gallinella Giorgio Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Gotti Roberto Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Hrelia Patrizia Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Iotti Stefano Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Luppi Barbara Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Martelli Pier Luigi Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Minarini Anna Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Paolini Moreno Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Passerini Nadia Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Recanatini Maurizio Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Roberti Marinella Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Romualdi Patrizia Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Spampinato Santi Mario Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario