PhD Course


Thematic area Interdisciplinary Programmes
Duration 3 years
Language English
PhD Programme Coordinator Antonino Vallesi

This multidisciplinary PhD course aims at training new researchers in the field of Neuroscience, focusing on the neurobiological bases of brain functions and dysfunctions, and on their physical-mathematical modeling.

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The Phd in Neuroscience has the ambitious goal of traning new researchers in the highly multidisciplinary and multisectorial field of Neuroscience, including cellular, system, cognitive, affective, computational, clinical and translational neuroscience.

The Phd in Neuroscience ha salso the aim of forming researchers that, despite the different backgrounds, will be able to speak a common language in the field of neuroscience.

Among its objectives, we could list the training in neuroscientific approaches and techniques such as multimodal neuroimaging (e.g., fMRI, DTI, HD-EEG, PET/MR, ECOG), neuromodulation and neurostimulation (e.g.,TMS, TES, DBS), molecular and cellular imaging, elettrophysiological recording, multiphotone/mesoscale imaging, and optogenetics.

The PhD in Neuroscience has English as its official language for its teaching offer, assessments (e.g., annual progress reports), journal clubs and seminars.
The PhD in Neuroscience has the ambition to reach high synergy, visibility and international funding. 

Fields of research

The PhD in Neuroscience is integrated with the activities of the Padova Neuroscience Center (PNC), focusing on basic and translational research studies guided by the idea of the brain as a series of networks developing over multiple spatial (molecules, neurons, entire neural networks, up to the whole brain connectome) and temporal (from msec to years) scales. The faculty and PhD students have various background ranging from psychology to medicine, from biology to neurobiology, from bioengineering to physics and mathematics.

Research activities are focused on biological and neural correlates, both structural and dynamic, of brain functions and dysfunctions, and on the application of physics-mathematical models to better explain these functions and dysfunctions. Moreover, the PhD in Neuroscience proposes theoretical and analytical models of the emerging properties that originate when groups of neurons interact with each other (connectome), allowing the emergence of complex processes able to explain phenomena such as language, consciousness, memory, cognitive, emotional and motor control, besides from related neurological, neurodegenerative, psychological and psychiatric disturbances. The nervous system is also investigated both in humans and in different animal models, in various phases of the life-span, to characterize its healthy and pathological development, both at an ontogenetic and phylogenetic level. 

Training path

The educational program aims to offer theoretical knowledge and practical skills required in the different fields of Neuroscience, and is therefore characterized by a high profile of multi-disciplinarity and flexibility.

The purpose of the offered teaching activities is twofold: providing a common background and advanced specialistic knowledge. For this reason, they are divided into basic courses and advanced courses.

The basic courses aim to create a common background among students, who need to choose courses that provide information complementary to their studies.

Students must choose at least two out of three macro-areas composed of 8-16 hours courses (for a total of 34 hours each macro-area): 1) Statistics, 2) Neuroimaging Techniques; 3) Neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and neuropsychology. The basic courses are all held in person (minimum 70% attendance) unless there are exceptional conditions (e.g., students abroad).

The advanced courses, instead, allow students to acquire specialized knowledge and skills. The students will then select those courses directly related to their study and research disciplines, and therefore useful for conducting their research (minimum 16 hours).

The advanced courses are organized around four thematic areas:

  1. Programming and computational neuroscience
  2. Cognitive and behavioral neuroscience
  3. Cellular and molecular neuroscience
  4. Translational and clinical neuroscience

Finally, there are courses – for all the PhD students – specifically tailored towards the acquisition of soft skills. In particular, the courses focus on:

- How to write an article
- How to present scientific research
- How to write a project
- How to do research within the Open Science framework

Journal Clubs and Seminars: During the three years, students are expected to actively participate in the Journal Clubs and seminars organized by the "Padova Neuroscience Center - PNC". They are also required to give a presentation every year during Journal Clubs. The Journal Clubs are held weekly and represent an opportunity for enrichment across different disciplines. Specifically, they require two PhD students to present one or more articles focusing on different perspectives and/or discussing the inconsistency between research results.

At the end of each academic year (typically between June/July) they are asked to undergo a written and oral Progress Report with at least two independent referees evaluating the advancement of the PhD training and research project. 

Professional profiles

In terms of placement, the main career opportunities of this PhD course are in the private and public research fields, including national and international academic career opportunities. In particular, placement concerns both basic and applied pre-clinical and clinical research, in the medical, psychological, biological, pharmaceutical, bio-signal processing fields, but the learned advanced models and techniques of investigation will be useful for the future PhD doctors also in public and private institutions that aim at early detection, advanced diagnosis, therapy and rehabilitation of patients with focal or traumatic brain damage (e.g., stroke, tumors, TBI), neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson, metabolic encephalopathies), with cognitive deficits (attentive disorders), anxiety disturbances (PTSD, phobias, panic), psychiatric conditions (e.g., depression, psychosis, schizophrenia).

The PhD course academic board faculty members have collaborations with companies in the biomedical and pharmacological field, and with many international universities and institutions pursuing advanced clinical and basic research, all institutions that could potentially offer career opportunities for the future PhD doctors in Neuroscience. Finally, the acquired knowledge in the PhD in Neuroscience program could be useful in other applicative (public and private) fields, including big data, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Ergonomy, network analysis.

The program is within the "Life Sciences" field but also "Interdisciplinary programs"