Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica António Xavier

Neurosciences

Cycle

Terceiro ciclo

Degree

Doctor

Course director

Joseph Paton

Opening date

2018

Vacancies

Up to 12 vacancies.

Fees

Applications for 8 Doctoral fellowships in the 2017-2018 class of the International Neuroscience Doctoral Programme (INDP), hosted at the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown (CCU) in Lisbon, Portugal will be open from December 11th, 2017 to January 11th, 2018. Selected students are guaranteed a stipend and tuition support for 4 years.

Schedule

Exclusive dedication to the PhD work.

Education objectives

The programme begins with one semester of intensive training that provides a broad foundation for innovative interdisciplinary work in basic or applied neuroscience, especially in the areas of neural systems underlying behavior. Students then have the opportunity to do rotations on labs of the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme (CNP), before becoming associated to a particular lab. From this point on, they conduct in-depth research on a focused topic, targeted to the last 3 years, leading to a Ph.D. thesis.

Access conditions

Applicants must hold a Masters degree and/or a 4+ year undergraduate degree. Successful applicants will demonstrate the ability to tackle difficult intellectual challenges, to learn new skills and ways of thinking and to work passionately as part of a research team. Predoctoral training in biological sciences (e.g. biology, medicine, bioengineering), quantitative disciplines (e.g. physics, mathematics, computer science) or related fields is important. The working language of both the INDP and the CCU is English, and candidates are required to demonstrate proficient English language skills.

Degree pre-requisites

The first year of the programme is designed to provide a broad exposure to a range of topics and viewpoints in neuroscience and biology to prepare for selecting a thesis lab. Thus, prior training in neuroscience, while encouraged, is not necessary. The programme has an emphasis on quantitative approaches and therefore a background in university-level mathematics is desirable. The programme is well-suited to students from the physical sciences, computer sciences and engineering with no biology or neuroscience training.

Course work is divided into one- or two-week long intensive modules and is roughly divided into two parts. The first part is devoted to ‘core’ concepts in neuroscience and biology, with a curriculum including fundamentals in biology and evolution, cellular and synaptic physiology, synaptic plasticity and development and anatomy. The second part is devoted to system’s level approaches, including sensory and motor systems, neuroethology and computational neuroscience. A wide range of experimental and theoretical techniques and model systems are covered. Modules are coordinated and mainly led by CNP faculty with contributions from invited experts from around the world. Each course module generally consists of classroom lectures in the morning followed by a variety of practical work in the afternoon. This includes discussions and journal clubs, laboratory work in which students conduct behaviour, electrophysiology and imaging experiments, and theoretical work in which students will program computational models and data analysis in Matlab.

The first semester of training is very much conceived as an immersive group experience. Active student participation and initiative, especially in the practical aspects of the courses, is encouraged, and many of these activities take place in a group setting. The schedule is intense and occupies most of the day during the first semester.

In addition to the courses associated to the first semester, the INDP has recently started to organize ‘advanced’ courses, which range in format from a traditional course to a short workshop. Advanced courses are open to students at any stage during their PhD, will assume that participants have an adequate background on the topic at hand, and will be lectured mainly by leading international and local experts. Student participation in the design and organization of these courses is encouraged.

Evaluation rules

Students are paired with individual faculty members who serve as academic mentors. At the end of the coursework period, students spend the summer rotating at those CNP labs doing research closest to their interests. This process leads to the selection of a laboratory and the writing of a thesis proposal. The lab selection process is assisted by the program direction and the academic mentor, and benefits from CNP policy promoting extensive communication of the research taking place in the different labs to the whole CNP community, by means of regular internal seminars by PhD students, postdocs and faculty members.

Structure