In the last years there has been a great development of Genetics and Molecular Biology. These two disciplines have progressively exchanged conceptual categories and experimental methods, reaching an integration that represents the central and unifying theme of modern biology. This has created new areas of basic and applied research and expanded existing ones.This determined a strong demand for specialists in this field, able to conduct high-level research at universities, research centres and industry.
Genetics, born as a science referred to analysis of heredity, has quickly evolved to the study of structure and function of the hereditary material. This led genetics to become an essential component of almost every area of biology, as well as a discipline with a strong power in integrating different fields of biology. The results obtained in the first decades of this century have established that the genetic composition of an organism not only determines the various levels of phenotypic organization, but also how they interact with the environment in which it lives.
Molecular biology in the last 40 years has made it possible to clarify the chemical / physical bases of many biological processes. The structure of the gene and its mode of replication, transcription and translation are now well known in their molecular details. More recently, "omics" methodologies have allowed to study the whole genome, transcriptome and proteome structure allowing the study of cell functions at a more global level. Moreover, the recent technologies of genetic engineering have provided a powerful means of investigation that made it possible to overcome those limits that were considered insurmountable until a few years ago by the very nature of biological systems studied.
Nowadays, the attention of national and international researchers is especially concentrated on: the study of the genome, with particular regard to the eukaryotic one; the study of the mechanisms that regulate gene expression at both transcriptional and post-transcriptional level; the study of the mechanisms underlyingthe control of cell cycle and cell division; the study of the process of spontaneous and induced mutations and its relations with the mechanisms of DNA repair; the study of genetic variability in human populations.
Genetics and Molecular Biology are also used both in animals and in plants to dissect and to understand several biological processes such as development and differentiation. Medicine, Pharmacology and Agriculture are the areas where genetics and molecular biology find some of their most important applications. Recombinant DNA technologies and genetic analysis are used to diagnose genetic diseases, to build bacteria able to produce molecules of pharmacological interest or to transfer " useful genes " from an organism to another.
The employment of molecular-genetic methods for the treatment of many hereditary and/or acquired diseases is expected to furtherly spread in the future and the demand for highly qualified researchers will increase. The aim of the PhD programme in Genetics and Molecular Biology is to train researchers able to originally exploit their scientific and methodological expertise in the most modern and advanced areas of both basic and applied research.
During a three year-course the students besides the research activity will follow general and monographic lessons, as well as specialized seminars. They also participate in several practical laboratory trials specifically planned for each year of the programme.
Graduate students in Chemistry, Physics, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Agrarian Sciences, Biological Sciences, the Science of Food Preparations, animal Manufacturing Sciences, Natural Sciences, or equivalent qualifications achieved at universities abroad are admitted to the competition for the PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology.
Knowledge of English is required. Students are allowed to write their PhD theses in this language.