The San Raffaele University, top-ranked among the research universities in Italy, offers a PhD program aimed to provide excellent guidance, support and training to graduate students interested in understanding the molecular processes underlying human diseases and in designing new approaches for their treatment.

The PhD Course in Molecular Medicine operates within the San Raffaele Scientific Institute, one of the largest biomedical research environments in Italy and well renowned internationally.

Completion requires 36 months of full-time studies and allows students to undertake a major research project in one of the over 100 research laboratories present in our Institute. Training and mentoring offers students individualized professional development and a gateway for basic, clinical and industrial research careers.

The International PhD Course is split into four main research lines (Curricula) that span the broad areas of molecular medicine:

Cellular and Molecular Physiopathology

Basic and Applied Immunology and Oncology

Experimental and Clinical Medicine

Neuroscience and Experimental Neurology

A transversal Program in Gene and Cell Therapy, offers training to students of the four Curricula with specific interest in genetic diseases and in development of new gene and cell therapy strategies.

The International PhD Course in Molecular Medicine provides a program, called “Physician-Scientist”, that allows students of the final year of a UniSR Residency Program to attend simultaneously the 1st year of the PhD Course.


PhD Course Coordinator: Prof. Carlo Tacchetti


Is now available the new Call for Application for the assignment of 2 project-based fellowship which has not be assigned during the first call. Details are available in the “admissions” section.



About 100 doctoral students are currently enrolled in our PhD Program in Molecular Medicine.

The number of available positions is reported in the annual call (54 positions are offered for A.Y. 2018/19). Full-time financial support is provided for every student we admit. The maintenance of the status of PhD Student and the renewal of the doctoral scholarship depend on the positive result of an annual examination of the scientific progress..

The scholarship covers:

– the salary

– tuition fees

In the current open call, 47 students are offered a UniSR scholarship (annual gross wage, before-tax, of € 18,000); the remaining 7 positions are without fellowship but the student will be funded by the hosting laboratory.

Annual research expenses (bench costs) are covered by the hosting laboratories.

During the second and third year, all students receive additional funds (1800 euros/year) to support participation to meetings and workshops. International collaborations are encouraged; if students move abroad to integrate the research activities of their projects, the scholarship is increased by half of the wage (for a period up to 8 months).

Our PhD Program is aimed to provide outstanding interdisciplinary training in the broad area of Molecular Medicine. PhD students are expected to spend most of their time working on a research project under the direct supervision of a Director of Studies and with the external scientific advice of a Second Supervisor.

Each year, the PhD Course in Molecular Medicine offers a panel of courses that expose students to the most exciting and active research areas in the field and provide training in the transferable skills required for a successful career in academia and beyond. Training is delivered in English and covers the three-year duration of the PhD Course.

Students are expected to play an integral part in the life of our research community also taking advantage of the many lectures, workshops and seminars organized by the San Raffaele Scientific Institute.

Students may have the possibility to be involved in teaching and in supervising undergraduate students.

a.y. 2017/2018


PhD Student Invited Lectures

  1. Andres Hidalgo Alonso,December 1st 2017; “Neutrophils, the wandering cells”
  2. Eleonora Dondossola, December 19th 2017 – “Monitoring Cell Partners of Progression and Therapy Response in Prostate Cancer Bone Metastasis by Advanced Microscopy”
  3. Andrea Musacchio, February 5th 2018 – “Reconstitution of (very small parts of) cell division”
  4. Simon Mendez-Ferrer, TBD
  5. Philippe Avner, TBD

Using English to communicate biomedical science - 2018

Prof. Michael John, from February 06th to March 20th 2018

Every biomedical professional understands the importance of the dictum Publish or perish. In today’s world dominated by TV and the Internet, where the simple transmission of data is not enough, it might be more correct to say Communicate or perish. Communicating your discoveries and techniques to the rest of the scientific community could improve the lives of millions of people and, less nobly, give your career a boost and earn you endless research funds. However, it isn’t easy to communicate fluently and elegantly when the language you have to use is not your own.

The course aims to show how you can use English as a tool-of-the-trade in the same way that you might eventually use a stethoscope or a microscope. There will be numerous suggestions on how to prepare for and deliver an oral presentation at a congress to a peer audience and how to survive the dreaded question-time session. IT lab sessions will focus on effective slide creation.

The main part of the course will be dedicated to student group oral presentations, where the theoretical skills previously examined will be put into practice. During this phase, the rest of the class will be expected to participate actively by acting as an audience, therefore asking questions, and by carrying out overall peer review of the structure and delivery of the work.

Statistics in Bioresearch

Prof. Riccardo Fesce, Insubria University (dates TBD)

Most theoretical aspects will be touched by discussing the statistical problems and experimental data proposed by the students.



  • Newest insights into cell metabolism in immunology and oncology – June 2018


  • Dr Stanislas Marin, 8th February 2018 – “Illuminating the Dark Matter:  Mapping of the Large Structural Variation of the Genome
  • Dr  Anna Carobene, March 2018 – “Importance and practical significant of biological variation: Reliability of biological variation currently available in an online database”
  • Prof. Mancini Nicasio, Dr Clementi Nicola, Dr Esposti Federico, March/April 2018 – “Microbiome in the clinics”
  • Dr Chiara Di Resta, April 2018 – “Application of Next Generation Sequencing approach to clarify the genetic basis of heterogenous   disorders: the example of inherited  cardiopathies”
  • Clinical trials in oncology, April/May 2018:

Vanesa Gregorc – Main aspects of clinical trials

Ugo Bechis – Lecture à Privacy and data protection

Esposito Antonio – Radiological Criteria of Response

Luca Gianni – Lecture à How investigators designed cinical trials may significantly remodulate pharma regulatory aspects: neoadiuvant breast cancer    therapy example


  • July/September 2018 – “The neuron, a key functional component of the axon”


  • October 2018 – “Developmental Biology: Mechanisms and Models”

All PhD projects proposed are evaluated by the PhD Directorate to ensure that they meet the requirements of a three-year PhD thesis

Please find below the list of the Directors of Studies (with a link to their CV) and of their PhD Projects proposed in the first Call for the academic year 2018/2019

Cellular and Molecular Physiopathology

Basic and Applied Immunology and Oncology

Experimental and Clinical Medicine

Neuroscience and Experimental Neurology

Program in Gene and Cell Therapy

In the new Call for application the following 2 project-based fellowships are available:

Borsa a progetto NEN5
Immunobiologia delle malattie neurologiche
Borsa a progetto NEN8

The application to the International PhD Course in Molecular Medicine can be submitted, regardless of age or citizenship, by those holding a 5-year University Degree (according to the old Italian regulation), a Master Degree (according to the new Italian regulation) (hereinafter, the “Degree”) or an equivalent foreign academic qualification.

The information below is an excerpt, for information only, of what is reported in the Call for application which represents, in the Italian version, the only legal communication of the related contents and therefore, in the event of a dispute, will only be valid the text of the Call in Italian.

NEW CALL FOR APPLICATION is now available for the assignment of 2 project-based fellowships which were not allocated during the first Call.

Admission Procedures

Registration and application must be done exclusively online, through the University website (

To be admitted to the competition, Italian citizens, EU and non-EU must pay € 50.00 according to the modalities indicated on the online registration form. Please note that the only fee payment does not mean the candidate has registered correctly to the competition.

This amount will not be reimbursed whatever the reasons for not participating in the admission selection.

Registration for the competition consists in two steps:

  1. Registration of personal data and registration to the competion- “INSTRUCTIONS“;
  2. After successful registration, the candidate access through the link, proceed to the payment of the fee for the chosen competition;
  3. Fill out the application form;
  4. Attach the required documentation.;

The candidate receives an email confirming the application.

Application Form

The application must be drawn up and submitted exclusively using the electronic form through the link

In the application, Candidate shall provide a description of the current research activities, the scientific interests, and any information required in the online form. S/he must also indicate only ONE project-based fellowship.

After submitting the online application, Candidate shall enclose in the same online registration system the following documentation as a PDF file:

  • Application Form, duly signed;
  • A self-certification of the Bachelor’s Degree, indicating the graduation mark;
  • A self-certification of the Master’s Degree, indicating the graduation mark (both according to the old and new Italian regulations);
  • Copy of a valid identity document.

Moreover, Candidates with a foreign academic qualification, which has not yet been declared equivalent to an Italian degree, shall enclose to the application any documents that may be useful for the Examination Committee to declare its equivalence, as set forth by article 2 of this call.

Registration and application for the competition must be done within December 21, 2018 at 1:00. pm. Please note that all time indications in this call refer to the local time in Italy.

The information above is an excerpt, for information only, of what is reported in the Call for application which represents, in the Italian version, the only legal communication of the related contents and therefore, in the event of a dispute, will only be valid the text of the Call in Italian

Selection Procedures

Admission to one of the Curriculum of the PhD Corse is subject to the successful results of a comparative assessment divided into two stages, as defined in the Official Call

First assessment phase

This phase, which does not require the Candidates to be present, is not public, is performed by the Examination Committee and assesses:

  1. the qualifications submitted in the form online and more precisely the curriculum vitae,  theDegree (5-year degree, as per old Italian regulation, Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree) and graduation mark (including BD mark) and any publication on international journals or submission of abstracts to conferences;
  2. the written dissertation, to be inserted as well in the electronic form, that shall be related to the Candidates’ research interests;
  3. The reference letters, directly submitted to the Ufficio Dottorati of the University  by the referees listed by the Candidates in their admission application;

The Examination Committee proceeds to the comparative assessment of the Candidates’ qualifications e drafts the ranking of the candidates admitted to the second phase.

Only Candidates who have been awarded a score of at least 50% of the maximum attributable score for the assessment of qualifications (50 points) shall be admitted to the second phase.


Second assessment phase 

This assessment phase consists of an interview with the Examination Committee aimed at assessing the scientific competences and the aptitude of the students in according to assessment criteria already established  from the Committee.

Candidates admitted to the interview shall have with themselves one of the following identification documents: identity card, driving licence, passport or any other documents provided for by law, provided that they contain a photograph and a stamp or another equivalent marking and that they have been issued by a state authority.

The interview will cover:

  • the general and specific qualifications of the Candidates;
  • the knowledge of English;
  • the reasons for starting the PhD Course and the subsequent professional research path.

At the end of the second assessment phase, the Examination Committee shall draft a final ranking based on a comparative assessment.

Candidates with a final score lower than 60% of the total attributable score (100 points) will be considered non-eligible.


The previous information are a synthesis,  for information purposes only,of the Official Call. Please consider that the Italian version of this Official Call is the only legal means of communication of the relative contents and in case of dispute, the Italian version shall prevail.


Papers for Interviews


REFERENCE LETTER – Attachment 1 (file word e file pdf)

All reference letters, which have not been drafted according to the form (Attachment 1) or submitted in different ways than those described in the Call will be rejected.

SUBSTITUTIVE DECLARATION – Attachment 2 (file word e file pdf)

The entitled persons shall avail themselves of what is set forth in Italian Presidential Decree no. 445/00, as amended and integrated, governing substitute declarations, by using Attachment 2, in case they attest other circumstances provided for by Articles 46 and 47 of Italian Presidential Decree no. 445/00

Assignment of the Positions

There exists only one final ranking, which is updated after each stage.

Renouncing to a project-based fellowship involves the definitive exclusion from the competition.

Terms and procedures of Enrolment

The winning Candidates shall proceed to formalize the enrolment through the dedicated webpage, by entering the data received during the online Registration ( within two working days of the publication of the ranking relative to the Candidates awarded with a fellowship (as per art. 5.3 herein).

All Candidates shall complete the enrolment procedure within the second working day of the online enrolment.

Candidates who fail to proceed to the online enrolment within the set deadlines or do not complete the enrolment within the second working day of the online enrolment, will be deemed renouncers and will lose their right to enrol.

Whenever an assignment phase is completed or after any withdrawals, upon publication of the update ranking on our website Candidates eligible for one of the positions will receive a communication, for information purposes only, to the email address they indicated in their applications.

Failure to receive said email shall not be considered as an objection for the missed enrollment.

Candidates who completed the online enrolment step shall present themselves at the PhD Office to complete the enrolment within two working days of the online enrolment and handle the following documents:

  1. A copy of the receipt of the payment of the first instalment of the yearly tuition fee for the admission and the attendance at the course (please refer to Art. 11 below). The payment shall be made with the online MAV, that can be downloaded at the end of the online enrolment procedure;
  2. Enrolment Request form, that can be downloaded at the end of the online enrolment procedure, duly filled out and signed;
  3.  Formal acceptance letter by the Head of the laboratory;
  4. HARD COPIES of all the documentation attached during the submission of the Application for admission to the competition (Application Form duly signed, A self-certification of the Bachelor’s Degree indicating the graduation mark; A self-certification of the Master’s Degree indicating the graduation mark)
  5. Complete photocopy of the identity document;
  6. One passport photograph, signed on the back;
  7. For Candidates admitted to the selection “with reservation” (see Art. 2 herein), the documents that was not submitted with the application for the admission to the selection.


The information above is an excerpt, for information only, of what is reported in the Call for application which represents, in the Italian version, the only legal communication of the related contents and therefore, in the event of a dispute, will only be valid the text of the Call in Italian

About 85% of the students after graduation have continued working in research as postdoctoral fellows (60% abroad, 40% in Italy), while 15% have chosen to work in related areas as clinical trial coordination, science writing, etc.

Placements after Graduation

Most recent placements abroad after PhD at UniSR:

– Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & Harvard Medical School, Boston

– University of California, Berkeley

– University of California, San Francisco

– Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York

– University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston

– Baylor College of Medicine, Houston

– University College, London

– King’s College, London

– University of Oxford

– Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge

– University of Edinburgh

– University of Lausanne

– EPFL, Lausanne

– Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Basel

– University of Zurich

– University of Freiburg

– CRG Centre for Genomic Regulation, Barcellona


Eleonora Dondossola(PhD UniSR 2010)

Current position:


University of Texas

MD Anderson Cancer Center,

Houston, Texas, USA




Francesco Saverio Tedesco(PhD UniSR in 2010)

Current position:

Principal Research Associate &

NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow in Paediatrics

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology

University College London




Rodrigo Hess-Michelini(PhD UniSR in 2010)

Current position:

Investigator II, Department of Cancer Therapeutics

Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation

San Diego, CA, USA