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Molecular and Cell Biology

InformationCourse/CS accredited by the Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education (A3ES).

Molecular and Cellular Biology is a strong scientific area at the University of Porto, more specifically at the Abel Salazar Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS, UP), the Faculty of Sciences (FCUP) and the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health (i3S, UP), having a long tradition in offering advanced studies in this field, both in research and in teaching.

 The International Doctoral Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCBiology) is jointly organized by these three institutions and is assisted by an international External Advisory Board: Nicholas Proudfoot, University of Oxford, UK; Peter Lindblad, Uppsala University, Sweden; Cord Brakebusch, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


The main objective of the MCBiology Program is to provide excellent doctoral training in Molecular and Cellular Biology in an interdisciplinary and international setting, promoting the integration of the students in leading research groups with international collaborations.

The students will acquire the knowledge, as well as the intellectual and technical skills, to tackle relevant questions in different professional settings, in academia or industry, where advanced Molecular and Cellular Biology plays a role. We envisage that the students will acquire an advanced understanding of the established aspects in this vast field as well of its open questions. Specifically, the students will acquire cutting-edge technical knowhow to obtain data, will develop the skills to ask new questions and will develop methodologies to help in their resolution. The students will be able to critically analyse problems, the experimental data and the possible solutions. The program will specifically target the development of creativity, autonomous thinking and rigorous critical thought.

The duration of this PhD program is 4 years. Students spend most of this time in a research setting. In the first year, students can start their thesis project or carry out rotations in one or two laboratories. Students are strongly encouraged to rotate in research groups that work in different biological questions, use different experimental approaches or model systems, so that they can experience a diversity of research approaches. At the end of these rotations, students choose one laboratory where they will carry out their thesis research work.

In addition, during their first year students participate in advanced courses focused on Molecular mechanisms, Cell Biology, Functional Genetics, Biological Systems and Tissues, and Science Ethics & Communication. The students also participate in advanced research seminars by national and international leading speakers.

Completion of the program requires 240 ECTS spread over 8 semesters: 60 ECTS for course work in the first year (see Table below) and 3 years of experimental work leading to the doctoral thesis (180 ECTS).

Fields of Specialization

A main concern of the MCbiology PhD program is the successful progression of students through the program. For this purpose, the program includes a Graduate Student Mentoring Committee. A member of this committee (tutor) accompanies a student group throughout their 4-year program. The tutor regularly meets on a one-to-one basis with each student and provides guidance through the common hurdles encountered in a PhD program, in particular the program´s curricular sections and the student´s choices for thesis research work. The tutor also provides advice on the choice of future career paths.

In addition, each student has a dedicated Student Research committee composed of three members selected among the PhD program faculty. The committee follows closely the student´s research progress. This committee ensures that the student receives timely feedback and suggestions on their research.

The program is prepared to provide advanced practical and theoretical knowledge in Molecular and Cell Biology, namely in the areas of Protein Structure and Function, Cell Biology, Functional Genetics, Tissues and Biological Systems and Ethics and Communication of Science.

Employment Prospects

The doctoral program aims to train doctors in Molecular and Cell Biology with strong scientific knowledge and solid scientific, technical and intellectual skills necessary to develop advanced research (basic or applied) and qualified professional service in higher education institutions, in research institutes or centres, in industry (biotechnology and pharmaceutical) and in public health institutions (hospitals, diagnostic centres, clinical laboratory analysis).



Estudante Internacional:

Estudantes abrangidos pelo Estatuto de Estudante Internacional *(Aprovado pelo Decreto-Lei 62/2018 de 06 de agosto).

* Estudante Internacional, encontra todas as respostas de que precisa para estudar na Universidade do Porto, no link: https://sigarra.up.pt/up/pt/web_base.gera_pagina?p_pagina=gateway-estudantes-internacionai

Regulations for the Application of the International Student Statute of the University of Porto:
Special Contests for Admission to Higher Education

Vacancies, deadlines and criteria 2022/2023


Vacancies, deadlines and criteria 2021/2022


1st Phase

2nd Phase

Applications submission

30/08/2021 a 17/09/2021

08/11/2021 a 12/11/2021

Display of the provisional results



Previous hearing

07/10/2021 a 20/10/2021

23/11/2021 a 06/12/2021

Display of the final results



Applicants complaints submission

22/10/2021 a 12/11/2021

09/12/2021 a 30/12/2021

Publication of the complaints decision




25/10/2021 a 29/10/2021

10/12/2021 a 15/12/2021

Potential substitutes placement

03/11/2021 a 04/11/2021


Publication of the remainders vacancies to the next phase




Start of academic year: 03 January 2022

Duration of PhD: 4 years (8 semesters)



For any query regarding the application process please contact: 
Helena Cristina Martins 
Post- Graduation Office



10h:00 - 12h:00
14h:00 - 15h:30

General information

Official Code: 5887
Director: Claudio Sunkel
Co-Director: Paula Tamagnini
Acronym: BMC
Academic Degree: Doctor
Type of course/cycle of study: Doctoral Degree
Start: 2013/2014
Duration: 8 Semesters

Study Plan

Involved Organic Units


  • Molecular and Cell Biology (240 ECTS credits)
  • Molecular and Cell Biology (60 ECTS credits)

Predominant Scientific Areas

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