Aims of the Ph.D. course


The main goal of our PhD program is to give to our students knowledge in the topics of Cell and Developmental Biology as well as a broad experimental training with the aim to make them able to compete for international or national calls as qualified postdoctoral researchers. We strongly encourage research projects that exploit integrated and interdisciplinary approaches to key aspects of the field.

Students are offered the opportunity for high quality research and training leading to the Ph.D. degree. Given the multidisciplinary nature of this field, one of the most exciting of the last decade, students can undertake independent research on a broad spectrum of frontline topics, related to cellular structure, function, development, and organization in complex systems, with particular emphasis on molecular mechanisms and relevance to diseases.

The training program is also flexible to accommodate the individual interests and needs of students. Collaborative research is encouraged.

The updating of scientific background of the graduate students is pursued by encouraging their participation to conferences performed by scientists that we invite each year. These seminars, monographic or coordinated in series, are often co-organised with the BEMM PhD school or with other PhD programs. We also encourage the students to take full responsability of their work and to improve their communication skills. This is done by:
i) requiring yearly presentations of their results in the form of public seminars;
ii) appointing external tutors for in depth analysis of their scientific results;
iii) encouraging attendance to international and national meetings and stages (they have individual budgets dedicated to these activities).

The overall goal of the program is to provide students with the skills for independent, critical, and creative thinking necessary for successful future careers as scientists in academia or industry, or in related professions.

This PhD Course strongly supports Internationalization and, in general, international scientific collaborations.
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About Cell and Developmental Biology

Scientists in this field have the common goal of understanding properties of cells and how they function, differentiate and organize in multicellular organisms. Cell biology, in particular, studies the structure, physiology, growth, communication, reproduction and death of cells. Reflecting the truly multidisciplinary nature of cell biology today, research in cell biology uses a wide spectrum of methodological approaches to address key biological problems in a number of aspects and examines all cell types, from unicellular organisms such as protozoa to the specialized cells that constitute multicellular organisms.

Main methodological approaches in Cell and Developmental Biology:
In vitro
Bacterial, Yeast, Drosophila, Mouse and Plant Genetics
Chemical genetics
Heterologous expression
Cell/Organism Genetic Transformation
Molecular Biology
“Omic” studies (Transcriptomics, Proteomics, Metabolomics, Interactomics, etc)
Cell Fractionation
Immunocytochemistry and Electron Microscopy
Live Cell Imaging
Structural Biology

Broad topics:
Cell membrane: organization & function
Receptors: Growth factor receptors/ Immune receptors / GPCRs/ intracellular/ nuclear receptors
Signaling intermediates
Regulation of and by the cytoskeleton
Nuclear and organelle dynamics
Molecular motors and other cellular machines
Intra-cellular traffic/ transport
Post-translational modifications & their regulation
Nuclear matrix, chromatin & genome
Control by RNA/ non-coding sequences and their functions
Cellular processes in development
Studying cells in 3 and 4 dimensions
Cell fate determinants /Stem cell biology
Biology of subcellular organelles
Biology of single cell organisms
Microbes (including viruses) & host cell interplay
Modeling human disease
Metabolic pathways: tissue, cell and subcellular compartimentalization
Regulatory mechanisms
Metabolic control
DNA damage & repair
Translational cell science