PhD in Biotechnological, Biocomputational, Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences

Academic Year 2022-2023
Subject area Medical, Pharmaceutical and Veterinary Medical Sciences
Cycle 38
Coordinator Prof. Maria Laura Bolognesi
Language Italian
Duration 3 years

Application deadline: Aug 02, 2022 at 11:59 PM (Expired)

NRRP Call for Applications

Doctoral programme start date: Nov 01, 2022

Application deadline: Jun 09, 2022 at 11:59 PM (Expired)

Call for Applications

Positions: More information in the PhD Programme Table

Enrolment: From Aug 04, 2022 to Aug 29, 2022

Doctoral programme start date: Nov 01, 2022

Operating centre
Main Department
Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology - FaBiT
Associated Departments
Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences - DIMEC
Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences - DIMEVET
Associated locations
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
Research topics

The doctoral course develops research themes related to the discovery of new therapeutic targets as well as of new drugs (small molecules or biologics) 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 identification and characterization of new drugs up to the development of the medicinal product.

An integrated and multidisciplinary research training, which spans all the drug development pipeline, is proposed. This will be instrumental for PhD students' future employment in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

The topics 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 characterize drug-ligand interactions
  • design, synthesis, characterization, 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
The natural areas of employment for our PhD students are the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, both in Italy and worldwide. The skills acquired in the fields of biotechnology, the identification of new pharmacological targets, drug discovery, the design, synthesis, analysis and delivery of drugs make them sought-after professionals in leading sectors of the Italian economy (pharma and biotech). In a wider perspective, job opportunities encompass life sciences and health care industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the pressing need for biotechnology and pharmaceutical researchers, who are collaborating and racing to develop vaccines and drugs at a rapid pace worldwide. The peculiar interdisciplinary organization of the Ph.D. programme and research topics will provide the students with the right skills and background to be incorporated in one or more of the areas mentioned above.
Admission Board

NRPP Call Admission Board
Appointed by RD 1103/2022 Prot. n. 0162873 of 17/07/2022

Surname Name University / Institution Role Email
Maria Laura Bolognesi Università di Bologna Member
Patrizia Brigidi Università di Bologna Member
Romana Fato Università di Bologna Member
Santi Mario Spampinato Università di Bologna Member
Marinella Roberti Università di Bologna Substitute
Pier Luigi Martelli Università di Bologna Substitute
Stefano Iotti Università di Bologna Substitute

Call for Application Admission Board
Appointed by RD 830/2022 Prot. n. 0127511 of 30/05/2022

Surname Name University / Institution Role email
Bolognesi Maria Laura Università di Bologna Member
Cavalli Andrea Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia Member
Iotti Stefano Università di Bologna Member
Martelli Pier Luigi Università di Bologna Member
Spampinato Santi Mario Università di Bologna Member
De Vivo Marco Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia Substitute
Passerini Nadia Università di Bologna Substitute
Roberti Marinella Università di Bologna Substitute
Learning outcomes

The Ph.D. 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 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 characterization through a pharmaco-toxicological approach.

PhD students should will be able to carry out autonomously a scientific research. One of the major goals is to promote the enrollment of PhD graduates in companies interested to highly qualified experts in the described fields. Ph.D. graduates will be also capable to work in the field of higher education.

Activities to be carried out by Doctoral candidates

Ph.D. programme Committee (Collegio) will assign to each Ph.D. student a supervisor among its members or outside (preferably, in this case a co-supervisor will be selected among the members of the committee) that will follow his/her research activity. The research project in one of the field 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. Ph.D. students will present, periodically, the results that have obtained in internal meetings with the Committee to ascertain their knowledge and skills. Furthermore, Ph.D. students will participate to national and international meetings and to a 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, Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. student.
The training of PhD students will not be limited only to scientific research chosen; but it will be promoted a formation that is intersectoral and interdisciplinary. Doctoral students will follow specific courses, Journal Club, and seminars in various scientific areas for at least 70 hours / 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 and papers, 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 favor 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 PhD 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 Board will encourage and guide the training of PhD students also beyond the pure scientific domain. They will 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 Ph.D. programme (possibly between the second and third year), Ph.D. students are invited to spend at least six months as visiting scholars in a foreign University or research institute. Student exchanges with Universities with established links are fostered, as well as creation of new ones. The Ph.D. programme is committed to issue joint titles with foreign institutions in the frame of specific agreements (e.g., Vinci Program). Foreign scientists are invited to deliver seminars within the "BMC-B2F2 seminars" program and foreign Professors may sit in the committee for the final exam. Furthermore, foreign students hosted in the frame of the Erasmus mundus or MCI - Mobility CONFAP Italy or other programs, are involved in the Program activities. To promote the participation of foreign students to the Ph.D. programme, the call for application is sent to the main foreign Universities with courses in biotechnology, pharmaceutical sciences and drug discovery and posted on Twitter. Italian language classes are organized for foreign students. Finally, the Ph.D. program encourages members of the Board to spend time as Visiting Professors/Visiting Scientists at foreign Universities or research centers, aimed to set-up new joint PhD programs. The PhD Committee has confirmed the availability to collaborate with the National Chiao Tung University (Taiwan) University and University of Medicine, Tirana for the issue of double or joint doctoral degrees.

Expected research results and products

Ph.D. students, within the end of the second year should present, as oral communication or poster, the obtained scientific results at least in one national or international meetings. At the end of the Ph.D. programme, Ph.D. 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 prepared - ready to be submitted to any scientific journal – three manuscripts (one as first author). The scientific journals should have an international reputation and be included in the Journal Citation Report (Thomson Reuters). Furthermore, Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. programme. The papers and a brief summary of all the research activities of each Ph.D. student will be sent to the committee conferring the Ph.D. degree.


Attachment 1

NRRP Call - Admission Exams Schedule

Qualifications Evaluation Results: from Sept. 2nd, 2022; Oral Examination: from Sept. 9th, 2022 - 9am; Oral Examination Results: from Sept. 14th, 2022. For further information, check the detail of your application on Studenti Online.