PhD in Biotechnological, Biocomputational, Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences

Academic Year 2021-2022
Subject area Medical, Pharmaceutical and Veterinary Medical Sciences
Cycle 37
Coordinator Prof. Maria Laura Bolognesi
Language Italian
Duration 3 years
Positions 13 positions. More information in the PhD Programme Table.
Application deadline May 21, 2021 at 12:00 PM (Expired)
Doctoral programme start date Nov 01, 2021
Operating centre
Bologna
Main Department
Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology - FaBiT
Associated Departments
Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences - DIMEVET
Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences - DIMEC
Associated locations
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
Mobility abroad
6 months
Research topics

The Doctoral programme develops research themes related to the discovery of new therapeutic targets as well as of new drugs with improved efficacy and safety. The discovery of novel drug targets contributing to a specific disease and/or its progression, in fact, is usually followed by the creation of new drugs (small molecules or biologics) up to the development of the medicinal product. An integrated cross training, which spans all the drug development pipeline, is proposed to the PhD candidate. This will be instrumental for their future employment in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The themes of the new PhD programme are mainly focused on:

  • studies of biological systems at cellular and molecular level, to elucidate complex biological and biochemical processes
  • biocomputational approaches to study new therapeutic targets and characterise drug-ligand interactions
  • design, synthesis, characterisation, analysis, delivery, efficacy and safety of new drugs, including those obtained through biotechnology
  • development of pharmacological and toxicological studies on 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
  • development of suitable animal models of diseases for the evaluation of new drugs.
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, design, synthesis, analysis and delivery in one of the fast growing economic field. In addition, there is a growing use in the pharmaceutical and health area, which have been among the first fields to benefic 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 organisation of the PhD programme and the chosen research topics will provide th candidates an education useful to find a job in one or more of the areas above mentioned.
Admission Board

Surname Name University/Institution 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

Tiziano Batani (SILFRADENT Srl, t.batani@silfradent.com) shall take part in the work of the Examination Board as expert member.

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 candidates will be trained in the following areas:
- study of living systems or their endogenous compounds or byproducts 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 characterisation through a pharmaco-toxicological approach.
PhD candidates should become capable to carry out autonomously a scientific research. One of the major goals is to promote the enrollment of PhDs in companies interested in highly qualified experts in the described fields. PhDs will be also capable to work in the field of higher education.
Activities to be carried out by Doctoral candidates
The Academic Board will assign to each PhD candidate a supervisor among its members or outside it (in this case a co-supervisor among the members of the Board will be indicated) that will follow their research activity. The research project will be carried out in one of the fields included in one of the areas above mentioned and aims to reach relevant scientific results that will be the object of a final, written thesis. PhD candidates will present, periodically, the obtained results in internal meetings with the Academic Board to ascertain their knowledge and skills. Furthermore, PhD candidates will participate to national and international meetings and to specific courses indicated by the Academic Board and will attend 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 candidates 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 candidate. These funds are approx. at least 7.000/10.000 euro/year. The training of PhD candidates will not be limited only to scientific research chosen, but it will be intersectoral and interdisciplinary. Doctoral candidates will follow specific courses, exercises and seminars in various scientific areas for at least 70 hours/year and held in part by professors or foreign experts. Where appropriate, the PhD candidate must take courses of the degree courses in Bioinformatics and/or Biotechnology and will acquire the specified credits. In addition, Doctoral candidates will participate in Summer and Winter Schools of topics related 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 PhD programme will stimulate scientific collaboration between the PhD candidates involved in several research projects and will offer them the chance to visit the various research laboratories (especially in the first year). One of the main points of this proposal, in fact, is to favor interdisciplinary projects involving research groups from the University of Bologna and non-academic areas. Doctoral candidates 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 PhD candidates to promote synergies between the partners, strengthen their training and prepare them for a wide range of career options, as acquire transferable skills not research-oriented. Doctoral candidates will be able to disseminate scientific knowledge among young students of secondary schools, to play tutorials for laboratory courses and to develop teaching and soft skills. The Academic Board will encourage and follow the training of PhD candidates also outside the strictly scientific domain. These will have to acquire: autonomy, flexibility/adaptability, ability to plan and organise, 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 candidates 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 institutes 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 seminars in English to the PhD candidates. Furthermore, in the frame of the Erasmus mundus or MCI - Mobility CONFAP Italy programmes, foreign PhD candidates 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 applicants 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 Academic Board of the PhD programme promotes candidates' exchanges with other universities with whom have been established scientific exchanges or have hosted PhD candidates. To inform potential foreign applicants, 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 Academic Board as visiting professors/scientists at foreign universities or research centres for periods longer than 15 days and will contact foreign institutions in reaching forms of international PhD programme. The Acamdemic Board 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 candidates 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, candidates 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 candidates are encouraged to publish book chapters and to contribute to patents and to set up scientific softwares connected with their scientific themes developed during the PhD programme. The published papers or the manuscript of each PhD candidate will be sent to the Academic Board that will confer the PhD degree.
Doctoral programme Academic Board
Name Surname University/Institution Qualification
Manuela Bartolini Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Maria Laura Bolognesi Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Patrizia Brigidi Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Romana Fato Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Monica Forni Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Giorgio Gallinella Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Roberto Gotti Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Patrizia Hrelia Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Stefano Iotti Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Barbara Luppi Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Pier Luigi Martelli Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Anna Minarini Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Moreno Paolini Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Nadia Passerini Università di Bologna Professore Associato
Maurizio Recanatini Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario
Marinella Roberti Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Patrizia Romualdi Università di Bologna Professore Associato Confermato
Santi Mario Spampinato Università di Bologna Professore Ordinario