Doctoral Program

Basic Structure

The 4 year-study BIOTECnico program is designed to enhance and maximize student’s potential. This student-centered program includes i) a 1st-year training with intensive courses, seminars and presentations; ii) lab practice in a research context iii) a PhD transferable skills package, followed by iv) a 3-year research program, with a period of research (average of 1 year) in an international Institution.   The curriculum combines compulsory and optional courses with a PhD research project (240 ECTS, 60 ECTS/year). The 1st year provides general and specific training in modern biotechnology and molecular biosciences. Students take 3 compulsory courses (18 ECTS) and 3 optional courses (18 ECTS) that allow them to build an individual study profile in line with their interests and the needs of individual PhD dissertation.

Compulsory courses

The 3 compulsory courses are:

1) General Doctoral Training (6 ECTS) combines training on

i) transferable skills (3 ECTS) - training on effective communication in science, scientific writing (papers and grants), science ethics, CV preparation, career development, intellectual property and technology transfer, complemented by programs offered to all IST PhD students (IST Bootcamp on Entrepreneurship/Innovation/Communication and the IST PhD Students Research Day)

ii) state-of-the-art of the doctoral thesis project (3 ECTS) – summarized in a paper and presented and discussed in a session with the other doctoral students, the advisor/mentor assigned to the student by a representative of the Directive Board.

2) Advanced Experimental Techniques and methodologies (6 ECTS) – provides training in relevant advanced experimental techniques and methodologies. Examples include: AFM, confocal microscopy, NMR, EPR, MS, fluorescence spectroscopy, microfluidics, NGS, expression proteomics, cell and tissue engineering, bioproduct separation. Students will explore different IST/collaborating Research Centers, in a research context.

3) Bioentrepreneurship (6 ECTS) – provides a hands-on opportunity for students to develop a business idea and strategies to take a technology to market. Students are guided through the stages of Search and ideation, Market assessment and Business development.

Optional courses

Students select 3 optional courses (6 ECTS) among:

i) Curricular units (Nanobiotechnology; Molecular Biotechnology; Genomics Proteomics and Bioinformatics; Structural Biology; Integrative Microbiology; Sensors, Instrumentation and Measurement in Biological Systems; Advanced Biomaterials; Medicinal Chemistry, Systems and Control in Bioengineering, etc);

ii) Outreach and Teaching Skills (develop useful communication skills for teaching, professional training, and scientific divulgation)

iii) Advanced Topics in Bioengineering and Biosciences; this course allows the coordinator to award credits to the frequency of Advanced Courses outside IST/Portugal or those planned to take place each year at IST (e.g. Winter School in Systems Biology) or organized to cover other emerging and critical Program topics (e.g. metagenomics, epigenomics, regulatory RNAs, synthetic biology, downstream processing, biomicrofluidics, metabolic engineering). The selection of the optional courses is done by the student in consultation with his/her advisor(s).

Lab rotations

During the first year, the remaining 24 ECTS are obtained by Lab work, with immersion in a research environment, also to promote the interactions with possible PhD supervisors (Lab rotations). A small project is developed and presented at the end of the rotation that can be carried out in a single Lab.


PhD Research program

During year 1, the student will choose the PhD topic/supervisor. The thesis project includes a secondment in one of the IST/iBB international collaborating institutions. Projects that can bridge different areas to take advantage of the full scope of research at IST/iBB are encouraged.



The students admitted to BIOTECnico Program will be recruited through an international competitive process, which will imply mobility to give students an opportunity to complement and diversify their advanced training and broaden their horizons. Mobility of the enrolled PhD students is foreseen mainly through mixed fellowships (all the students will have the opportunity to spend on average one year abroad during the 2nd-3rd year of the program). The implementation of this training period abroad will be defined in the research PhD project of each student.

The strong international network of IBB/IST researchers with first-rate research groups, mainly in Europe and USA, has been supporting for years the PhD Program in Biotechnology by providingthe right environments and opportunities for students to get access to cutting-edge world-class equipment, facilities and infrastructures and to develop research competencies and a globally-tuned mindset.

Jointly-supervised research projects will also ensure an important international networking component, considered essential for the program success. The students will also participate in international scientific meetings, to be exposed to cutting-edge research topics and foster their interaction with the global scientific community.


BIOTECnico Seminar Cycle stating in Jan 2021.
Molecular and Cellular Biology | Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering | Functional and Comparative Genomics | Upstream and Downstream Processing | Computational and Systems Biology | Biosensors and Nanotechnology | Synthetic Biology | Molecular Bioengineering