The PhD Program in BIOSCIENCES AND BIOTECHNOLOGIES is organized in five curricula focusing on interdisciplinary research. Each curriculum represents areas of research excellence in Biomolecular Sciences and Bioinformatics, Cellular and Molecular Physiology and Biotechnology, Biochemical Sciences and Cell Biology, Genetics, Microbiology and Molecular Evolution and in Morphofunctional Biology.

The PhD program is focused on the most important topics of modern biology, from basic to applied research, even in collaboration with foreign prestigious institutions and companies, and reflects the research topics developed and at the Department of Biosciences, Biotechnologies and Environment, the administrative place of this PhD course. Interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged as well as the interaction among PhD students. The PhD programme in BIOSCIENCES AND BIOTECHNOLOGIES lasts for 3 years. About 15-18 students are admitted every year and have access to first-class facilities.


CUN Scientific Areas CUN: 05-Scienze Biologiche, 06-Scienze Mediche, 07–Scienze Agrarie e Veterinarie, 03-Scienze Chimiche, 09 – Ingegneria industriale e dell’informazione.

Scientific Subject Codes: AGR/17, BIO/04, BIO/05, BIO/06, BIO/07, BIO/08, BIO/09, BIO/10, BIO/11, BIO/12, BIO/13, BIO/16, BIO/17, BIO/18, BIO/19, CHIM/11, ING-IND/34, MED/03, MED/04, MED/46, VET/10,

Coordinator: Prof.ssa Giovanna Valenti

Administrative office: Department of Biosciences, Biotechnologies and Environment


Duration: 3 years

Curricula: Yes

1. Biomolecular Sciences and Bioinformatics (Scientific disciplinary sectors: BIO/10, BIO/11, MED/46)

2. Cellular and Molecular Physiology and Biotechnology (Scientific disciplinary sectors: BIO/09, BIO/17,

VET/10, AGR/17, MED/04, ING-IND/34)

3. Biochemical Sciences and Cell Biology (Scientific disciplinary sectors: BIO/10, BIO/12, BIO/13,

BIO/14, BIO/16, CHIM/11)

4. Genetics, Microbiology and Molecular Evolution (Scientific disciplinary sectors: BIO/18, BIO/19, BIO/08, MED 03)

5. Morphofunctional Biology (Scientific disciplinary sectors: BIO/04, BIO/05, BIO/06, BIO/07)

Total number of positions with fellowships n. 15:

n. 6 positions on D.M. 118/23 PNRR 4.1

n. 1 positions on D.M. 118/23 PNRR 3.4 Transizioni Digitali

n. 3 positions on D.M.117/23

n. 2 positions on Ateneo funds

n. 3 positions PNRR Centri Nazionali CN3

Total number of positions without fellowships n. 3

Project: Enhancement of plant biomass used in the production of biomethane for reuse in agriculture -Curriculum 5-

Call for tender: D.M.117/23

Fellowship 1. Title Scholarship: Biosciences and Biotechnologies

Research activity description: The research aims to characterize and enhance some types of biomasses digestates, based on microbial fermentation, like biomass waste deriving from the solid fraction of urban solid residue and the local agricultural production chain, for their use in agriculture. The main goals are the chemical and biochemical characterization of the biomasses used and the study of the effects related to their use as soil improvers, in the model (Arabidopsis thaliana) and non-model plant species. Through an integrated approach, based on omics and non-omics techniques, the main metabolic pathways involved in nitrogen and phosphorus assimilation, will be evaluated, in order to identify the most suitable growth conditions in terms of biomass increase and absence of adverse related to the treatment.

Project: Cellular rejuvenation induced by partial reprogramming in in vivo and in vitro models: an artificial intelligence-based approach. -Curriculum 2-

Call for tender: D.M.117/23

Fellowship 2. Title Scholarship: Biosciences and Biotechnologies

Research activity description: Partial reprogramming involves a modification of the differentiation state of the cells (partial pluripotency) allowing their return to a more juvenile stage. The main goal of this project is to use protocols for the transient expression of the four Yamanaka transcription factors to induce partial reprogramming both in vitro in mammalian cells and in vivo in Drosophila melanogaster. In particular, the project aims at evaluating the hitherto unexplored effect of the stoichiometric variation of the expression levels of each of Yamanaka’s four factors, taken individually or in combination, on cellular rejuvenation.

Project: Biological and technological characterization of yeast cells for applications in bioremediation. -Curriculum 3-

Call for tender: D.M.117/23

Fellowship 3. Title Scholarship: Biosciences and Biotechnologies

Research activity description: The project is aimed to characterize and develop cellular models for application in bioremediation. Bioremediation is a sustainable process where biological systems, such as bacteria and yeast, are used to remove environmental pollutants. Research activities will include the biological and technological characterization of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast cells applied to water cleaning processes from contaminants. In this field, yeast cells represent a promising resource due to their high tolerance to organic and inorganic compounds and their transformation capacity into not toxic compounds. The use of bioremediation in industrial processes is aligned with the principles of ecological transition and the goals of 2030 Agenda.

Project: Identification of the genetic causes of idiopathic infertility through Single-Cell Strand sequencing. -Curriculum 4-

Call for tender: D.M.118/23 PNRR 4.1

Fellowship 1. Title Scholarship: : Biosciences and Biotechnologies

Research activity description: The proposed project aims to identify the causes of reproductive failure through the use of an innovative technique known as Single Cell Strand-sequencing to identify submicroscopic inversions and translocations in the human genome and to evaluate their contribution as genomic risk factors to reproductive failure in patients with idiopathic infertility.

Project: Searching for inhibitors of flavin cofactors biosynthesis and of tumoral cell proliferation -Curriculum 1-

Avviso: D.M.118/23 PNRR 4.1

Fellowship 2. Title Scholarship: Biosciences and Biotechnologies

Research activity description: This project moves from basic to applied research, focusing on the role of enzymes and translocators involved in ensuring cellular homeostasis of redox flavin cofactors FMN and FAD, which derive from the water-soluble vitamin B2 or Riboflavin, and on their implications in different types of human tumours. The central idea underlying this project is based on the recent demonstration that flavin cofactors play central roles not only in bioenergetics, but also in epigenetics. Thus, enzymes involved in their production may be potential therapeutic targets in cancer.

The PhD student will study the molecular mechanisms regulating the expression of genes involved in Rf transport and metabolism in cancer cells, as well as will search for drugs/nutraceutics able to modulate FAD biosynthesis

Project: Digital transition applied to histology and tissue nanostructure studies -Curriculum 2-

Call for tender: D.M.118/23 3.4 Digital Transitions

Fellowship 3. Title Scholarship: Biosciences and Biotechnologies

Research activity description: Digital transition has a key role in the “digital era”, with a broad range of applications, including the didactic/scientific field. On this scenario, the development of a smartphone application is well appropriate for the study/deepen of histology, a matter developed for the study of tissues that in different percentage forms organs. The application will be developed thanks to the collaboration with a local “industry” specialized in digital transition. Furthermore, thanks to the partnership with an abroad Institution it will be deepened the study of tissues at nanostructure level using particular instruments and software. This new digital approach will support the classical study on histology and will allow to counteract the classical limitations thus leading to the detailed study of different tissues.

Project: Development of 3D model of Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma to be used for clinical trial and identification of early biomarkers. -Curriculum 3-

Call for tender: D.M.118/23 PNRR 4.1

Fellowship 4. Title Scholarship: Biosciences and Biotechnologies

Research activity description: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a devastating disease with a very low survival rate. An unfavorable prognosis of PDAC is due to the lack of effective therapies and, above all, late diagnosis. The murine models of PDAC currently used in clinical trials are not completely overlapping with human PDAC. In this project, the aim is to develop 3D models of PDAC using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), in which the function of the main genes involved in the pathogenesis of PDAC (KRAS, p53, SMAD4, and p16) will be studied. Upon validation, the different models will be tested for their sensitivity to chemotherapy drugs and the secretion of specific early biomarkers.

Project: Blue biotechnologies: bioinformatics and biomolecular approaches for the selection of new enzymatic activities from marine microbial communities -Curriculum 1-

Call for tender: D.M.118/23 PNRR 4.1

Fellowship 5. Title Scholarship: Biosciences and Biotechnologies

Research activity description: Enzymes are gaining increasing attention as catalysts in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries and in the development of approaches for environmental decontamination. Indeed, they are relevant for novel, and more selective and ecological processes. New and unique enzymatic activities can be identified by modern functional metagenomics approaches based on the combined use of bioinformatics methodologies and bio-molecular assays. In this context, the project envisages two main activities: i) the use of bioinformatics tools for the analysis of omics data from marine microbial communities to select genes associated with specific catalytic activities; ii) validation of the results by bio-molecular assays.

Project: New in vitro/in silico strategies for the study of uncharacterized membrane transporters and for the identification of new modulators of transport activity of characterized membrane transporters of the SLC family.-Curriculum 3-

Call for tender: D.M.118/23 PNRR 4.1

Fellowship 6. Title Scholarship: Biosciences and Biotechnologies

Research activity description: The aim of the project is to develop a platform for predicting the function and identifying modulators (small molecules) of SLC family transport proteins’ function (i.e., 10.1016/j.bcp.2015.11.019), whose members are considered promising pharmacological targets (10.1038/d41573-020-00056-6) for the treatment of tumor-related pathologies and/or rare pathologies characterized by neuromuscular degeneration (10.1016/j.bcp.2022.115405; 10.3390/molecules27113494). The results of the in-silico analyses will be validated in vitro by using calorimetric binding affinity assays. Additionally, isotopic labelling assays and metabolomics will be conducted in collaboration with experts in omics analysis and metabolic pathways at the Cellomet laboratories (Bordeaux, FR), to test the activity of the investigated ligands.

Project: Innovative surveys for the study and mapping of Posidonia oceanica meadows along the Apulian coasts.-Curriculum 5-

Call for tender: D.M.118/23 PNRR 4.1

Fellowship 7. Title Scholarship: Biosciences and Biotechnologies

Research activity description: The present research is focused on the study of marine habitats of particular biological and conservation importance, such as the Posidonia oceanica meadow. The project involves the development of innovative investigations for the study and mapping of the P. oceanica meadow along the Apulian coasts through an ecology landscape approach (seascape). A valid tool to understand the role of different factors in the mechanisms of regression and fragmentation of grasslands.

Project: “National Center for Gene Therapy and Drugs based on RNA Technology” CN3

Call for tender: PNRR Centri Nazionali CN3

Fellowship 1.

Title Scholarship: Intercellular Cross-Talk Mediated by Tunneling Nanotubes: Mechanisms and Functions. -Curriculum 2-

Research activity description: “Tunneling Nanotubes” (TNTs) are long intercellular bridges that allow the exchange of signals (ions, proteins, RNA, etc.) between distant cells, contributing to the regulation of cellular and tissue activities under both physiological and pathological conditions. The mechanisms underlying the formation of TNTs, the transmitted signals, and their respective functions are largely unknown.

This project aims to investigate the role of TNTs in intercellular trafficking of RNA among tumor cells, with specific focus on the intercellular trafficking of circular RNAs.

Project: “National Center for Gene Therapy and Drugs based on RNA Technology” CN3

Call for tender: PNRR Centri Nazionali CN3

Fellowship 2. Title Scholarship: Development of experimental approaches for gene therapy in cellular models of patients affected by mitochondrial disorders caused by nuclear gene deficiencies. -Curriculum 3-

Research activity description: The use of 3D models (organoids) derived from the differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patients for studying human diseases is an innovative experimental approach, especially for the development of personalized therapies. In this project, the aim is to develop new experimental approaches for gene therapy, such as genome editing of specific mutations, gene knock-in using adeno-associated vectors (AAV) or inserting wild-type ORFs into the AAVS1 locus, to restore the deficiency of specific mitochondrial proteins encoded by nuclear genes. The modified iPSCs from patients will then be differentiated into specific mature cell lines (neurons, hepatocytes, etc.) and characterized for the validation of the correction made.

Project: “National Center for Gene Therapy and Drugs based on RNA Technology” CN3

CUP H93C22000430007; CODE CN_00000041

Call for tender: PNRR Centri Nazionali CN3

Fellowship 3. Title Scholarship: Molecular strategies to correct pathogenic mutations through RNA editing programmable tools -Curriculum 1-

Research activity description: RNA editing is one of the most relevant epitranscriptome mechanisms by which cellular RNAs are modified in specific localizations in a not-transient fashion. In human, RNA editing involves the deamination of cytosine in uridine by APOBEC enzymes and, most frequently, the conversion of adenosine in inosine by the ADAR family of enzymes. A-to-I editing in non-coding regions is important in modulating the innate immune response, while modifications in protein coding genes has several functional and physiological implications. The aim of this project is to use RNA editing programmable tools for correcting pathological mutations at RNA level in human cells.

Fellowships covered by ‘Ateneo funds’

Fellowship 1 Project title: Development and application of third generation sequencing protocols and bioinformatics methodologies for the study of biodiversity -Curriculum 1-

Research activity description: Biodiversity studies includes investigations from genes to genomes and epigenetic variation, and from populations to species and ecosystems. Third generation sequencing provides a wide array of novel tools to characterize the molecular biodiversity, including the generation of reference genomes able to provide unique insights into genomic diversity and architecture, thereby enabling comprehensive analyses of population and functional genomics. The project aims to develop new sequencing protocols and bioinformatics methodologies based on third generation sequencing for the study of biodiversity, in particular of non-model species and species complex.

Fellowship 2 Project title: Role of astrocytes in homeostasis in health and diseased brain -Curriculum 2-

Research activity description: The present proposal aims to carry out studies on the role of astrocytes in brain homeostasis in health and disease and to identify the molecular mechanisms responsible for the onset and progression of neurodegenerative or neurdevelopmental deseases. The studies will be conducted by super-resolution microscopy which will be used to study the expression of water and ion channels and actin cytoskeleton. Functional studies of water transport, migration/invasion assays, measurements of calcium signals and patch clamps on tissue slices will be performed to evaluate molecular alterations of CNS homeostasis and cell communication. Finally, mouse models characterized by alterations of the water and ion homeostasis of the CNS will be studied using two-photon microscopy.

Positions without fellowships

Fellowship 1 Project title: Development of a microRNA signature to predict metastases development in breast cancer. Curriculum 2-

Research activity description: A compelling body of evidence sustains the role of microRNAs to fine tune gene expression at multiple levels by interacting with a number of mRNAs as epigenetic modifiers. The objective of this program is to integrate genome, transcriptome and miRNAs data obtained from the analysis of breast cancer tissues and plasma samples to clarify the molecular mechanisms associated with development and progression of the breast cancer and possibly generate diagnostic, prognostic and predictive algorithms for improving clinical management and treatment of patients. The capability of miRNAs to affect cell phenotype toward aggressiveness will be characterized in vitro and in animal models to identify molecular signatures supporting breast cancer progression and spreading to distant sites.

Fellowship 2 Project title: Nanoscale interfaces and neurospheres as model to study neural development. -Curriculum 2-

Research activity description: Neurospheres (NS) are widely used as an in vitro model to study the molecular, structural and functional mechanisms of neurodevelopment. Nanostructured biomaterials may be useful for reproducing, in vitro, the biochemical and biophysical signals derived from the extracellular matrix (ECM), critical in neurodevelopment, and which are often lost in NS growth in vitro. In order to define a new in vitro model, which mimics the features of the cerebral microenvironment, in this project, we will use of nanostructured biomaterials as a substrate to grow NS able to induce NS differentiation. The expression of ion channels, aquaporins and ECM wil be analyzed by calcium imaging, electrophysiology, cellular and molecular biology.

Fellowship 3 Project title: A cost-effective multi-OMICs strategy for the diagnosis of rare Mendelian disorders by integrating data from exome, whole-transcriptome and low-pass genome sequencing in Medical Genetics outpatient clinics -Curriculum 4-

Research activity description: Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has become gold-standard diagnostics for most Mendelian diseases. Nevertheless, NGS diagnostics still presents limitations in genetic variants detection and interpretation, turnaround times, and costs for an effective application.

The present project aims to verify the technical, clinical, and economic feasibility of a transfer in diagnostics of “multi-OMICs” investigation approaches based on the integration of exome, transcriptome and genome sequencing data for the diagnosis of individuals affected by rare Mendelian diseases in the clinical context of Medical Genetics. A multi-OMICs bioinformatics pipeline will optimize variant interpretation for generating actionable information.

Admission procedures:

The selection will be made following the art. 6 typology B of the call.

The examination will be based on the evaluation of candidate qualification, proposed project, oral interview, and foreign language knowledge checking (English).

Admission tests for foreigners:

The videoconference interview of foreign candidates will be in English.

Admission exam dates and time:

Qualification : title evaluation 26/7/2023:

Proposed project evaluation: 27/7/2023:

Oral interview: 31/7/2023

The oral examination will be held in the ‘Aula Magna’ on the ground floor of the Biological Departments Building – “Ernesto Quagliariello” University Campus in Via Orabona – Bari starting from 9.30 a.m.


Candidates holding one of the following qualifications are eligible regardless of their citizenship and age (with the exception of those candidates who apply for an apprenticeship who must not be over 29):

  1. degree awarded under the system “vecchio ordinamento” in place prior to the one introduced by Ministerial Decree(D.M.) no. 509 of 03 November 1999, amended by Ministerial Decree (D.M.) no. 270 of 22 October 2004;
  2. “laurea specialistica” or “laurea magistrale” (second cycle degree);
  3. second-level academic qualification (“titoli accademici di secondo livello”) awarded by Institutions belonging to the AFAM (“Alta Formazione Artistica e Musicale”) sector;
  4. Master’s degree awarded abroad, recognised as such solely for the purpose of admission to the competition.

A) Admission to the selection for the candidates with an academic degree conferred abroad:

Those in possession of a degree from a foreign university which has not yet been declared equivalent to an Italian degree will have to apply for their equivalence solely for the purposes of admission to the Ph.D. programme for which they intend to apply.

In such case, in order to allow for assessment of the qualification, application for participation must be accompanied, by the following documentation:

  • (In the case of Italian and EU citizens) Self-certification, according to D.P.R. 445/2000 and subsequent modifications, of the academic qualification obtained with details of examinations, the relative results and the legal duration of the programme.
  • (Non-EU citizens) A certificate attesting to the academic qualification obtained with details of examinations, the relative results and the legal duration of the programme together with a translation into Italian and/or english. The translation must be signed under the applicant’s own responsibility in order to allow the qualification to be recognized.

The suitability of qualifications obtained abroad will be evaluated by the Judging Commission in accordance with the regulations in force in Italy and in the country where the qualification was obtained and relative treaties and international agreements on the recognition of qualifications for the continuation of studies.

In case of admission to the Ph.D. programme, applicants must submit, within 60 days from the date of registration, the following documentation:

  1. Curricular qualifications translated into Italian and legalized by the relevant Italian diplomatic or consular representations abroad;
  2. “Certificate of equivalence of qualification” of the foreign qualification issued by the relevant diplomatic or consular representations abroad; alternatively, the Certificate of comparability of the foreign university qualification issued by the ENIC-NARIC center in Italy (CIMEA) can be presented, which contains all the information necessary for the evaluation of the qualification.

In order to enter Italy, citizens of non-EU countries residing abroad must register on the Universitaly portal and apply for an entry visa (postgraduate visa type D) at the competent Italian Embassy or Consulate.

In case of doubts about the qualification validity, the University also reserve the right to request the “Certificate of equivalence of qualification” to those who have obtained a qualification in a European Union country.

B) Admission to the selection for candidates who have not yet received the degree.

Candidates who are going to obtain the qualification necessary for entry to the Ph.D. programme may also apply if they are to obtain their qualification by and no later than 30 September 2023. Failure to gain the relevant qualifications by this date will result in exclusion from the call.

These candidates will be admitted sub condicione and no later than 30 September 2023 must send by PEC ( ) and email to  the self-certification (or certification in the case of qualifications obtained abroad) with date and handwritten signature, accompanied by a copy of a valid photo identification document indicating:

  • the name of the university issuing the qualification;
  • date of completion of the qualification;
  • type of qualification (specialist/master/old cycle degree, second level academic degree issued by institutions belonging to AFAM);
  • final result.

Candidates who, for whatever reason, do not communicate the obtainment of the relevant qualification by the deadlines indicated or who send incomplete, incorrect applications, by different means or to different addresses other than those indicated above will be excluded from the call.


The application for participation in the selection must be submitted using only the appropriate procedure made available at:  no later than July 20, 2023 at 12.00 pm (Italian time) under penalty of exclusion from the selection.

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