Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology Research in Medicine
The Bachelor’s degree is awarded at the end of a three-year period during which the student must acquire 180 ECTS-credits and pass a final exam.
Learning activities, the overall number of hours the student must attend to be awarded the degree, include:
- formal teaching (lectures and seminars);
- lab work;
- interactive teaching analysing, discussing and resolving specific problems either on an individual basis or in small groups;
- individual study.
The Bachelor’s degree is made up of a number of integrated and single-subject courses organised to achieve the learning targets set for the different areas. *Students are under obligation to attend all the subjects pertaining to the course curriculum and the ECTS-credits for each activity are awarded when students pass the corresponding exam or other form of assessment.
The way time is allocated to the various subjects takes into account the need to provide a progressive development of knowledge and the greatest possible integration and consistency between the various learning activities (see the course curriculum) Some courses may therefore only be attended once students have completed others considered as necessary preparation. Laboratory work is scheduled taking into account the development of knowledge and represents the opportunity to incorporate and apply theoretical teaching
Every year, the Bachelor’s degree offers an range of optional subjects, aimed at providing a more in-depth knowledge of specific skill sets or know-how in order to satisfy the student’s individual aptitudes. They consist in specific courses and seminars that combine to provide students with specific skills, know-how or professional expertise.
Optional subjects are an essential part of the curriculum and the student’s study programme. Attendance of the subjects chosen by the student must be certified by the teaching staff, who award an assessment based on the student’s commitment and motivation. These subjects are chosen at the student’s discretion until they have acquired the number of ECTS-credits required over the three-year period.
In order to sit the Final Exam, students must have attended all core subjects and their chosen optional subjects (for a total of 180 ECTS-credits) and have passed the related exams. The final assessment consists in confirming that the student has acquired the necessary basic knowledge and critical analysis skills by discussing a dissertation written by the student on a subject chosen in agreement with the supervisor.
One very important factor of the training of a researcher is an early introduction into an environment similar to that encountered in the world of employment. To satisfy this need, the University has equipped a laboratory designed to give the individual student the chance to work individually, under the guidance of teaching staff and tutors. The specific purpose of this type of work is to allow students to learn the most common experimental techniques (biochemical, molecular biology and cell biology) as part of a unitary research project that is developed over the three-year period. This novel strategy is radically different to conventional “practicals”, in which individual activities are learnt as part of different subjects. The intent is to overcome this fragmentation of experimental knowledge, considered a purely academic exercise, by introducing it into a research environment that allows the student to tackle first-hand the most common preparation and analytical techniques, by personally producing the reagents required to complete an experimental project over the three years of the course. Once this programme is complete, students will have modified the genetic make-up of a cell line, using genetic engineering techniques, and have analysed the effect these manipulations have on the cell’s physiological behaviour by performing functional assays.
Each student acquires skills and know-how in the most commonly-used experimental techniques and familiarity with the basic safety and organisational rules. Research work is conducted individually or in small groups. In the former case, the student has to devise an experimental protocol and check and analyse the data obtained with full decision-making autonomy. The aim of group work, on the other hand, is to encourage students to accept and appreciate exchanges of idea within a group.
Through their lab research activities, students master the experimental method and learn how to analyse data in a critical manner and how to discuss and present results.
In compliance with international laboratory standards, activities are certified by the keeping of a Laboratory Register, in which students fill out a report of their daily work, by providing the following information:
- the purpose of the experiment
- a description of the activities performed
- analysis and assessment of the results obtained
- the conclusions reached
The Bachelor’s degree lab is designed in full compliance with applicable safety regulations, with spacious facilities that are equipped in different ways to favour individual and group work and close interactions between students and teaching staff. It consists of a central room equipped with workstations, a utility room where equipment is stored and a lab dedicated to cell cultures.
Each student has a lab workstation provided with all the equipment needed to perform individual experimental activities (a set of pipettors, magnetic stirrers, plastic and glassware, etc.).
In addition to the basic equipment, the lab is also equipped with that needed to prepare, separate and characterise DNA, RNA and proteins. The laboratory is also equipped for aseptic cell line manipulation and functional analysis. Digital gel imaging and videomicroscope analysis systems allow students to transfer and process the data obtained on their personal computer.
The lab is provided with an Internet network that allows students to consult the databases present on the Internet without leaving their workstations.
Certain experimental approaches require extremely sophisticated and expensive equipment that, as in all major research centres, is housed in service laboratory facilities. As part of their research project, students have the opportunity to use and work in the following HSR DIBIT facilities:
Promifa (Protein Microsequencing Facility), dedicated to the molecular characterisation of proteins by mass spectroscopy and the bioinformatics processes required to conduct advanced research in the proteomics field;
MCFB (Microarray Core Facility and Bioinformatics), a service for the study of cDNA using microarray technology;
Alembic (Advanced Light and Electron Microscopy BioImaging Center), which brings together the most innovative optical and electron microscopy and microanalytical imaging techniques currently available;
Cytofluorometry, for the characterisation and separation of cell populations using fluorescent markers.