Foundations of Life Sciences and Their Ethical Consequences
System Medicine
Course Coordinator & Office of Graduate Studies
Students' Office
Thematic Areas
The PhD program in Foundations of the Life Sciences and their Ethical Consequences is run in agreement with the University of Milan and the European School of Molecular Medicine and is hosted at the IFOM-IEO Campus ( as school site. The program is open to students having either a scientific or a philosophical degree as well as to medical doctors. The course aims to create internationally recognized scholars in the fields of the foundations of the Life Sciences, ethical analysis and the relationships between biomedicine and society.
Main Research topics are: Philosophy of Life sciences, Bioethics, Biomedicine and Society. The characterizing traits of the PhD program is its strong interdisciplinary trait, the international dimension and the training platform where the research activity will be part of the training. In fact theoretical courses will be complemented by a mandatory period of training in a research laboratory.
Selection & Admission
Admission to the program is granted on a competitive basis and it is achieved through a two steps process including a preselection and an examination.
The preselection is based on the information included in the application form and in the reference letters submitted. Candidates with an excellent education track, previous research experience related to the main topics of the program and foreign experience are preferred. Candidates with the best scores are shortlisted and invited for the examination.
The Examination is held in English and aims to evaluate the scientific background of the candidates, as well as their motivation to succeed in a demanding program.
Students' Monitoring
To ensure a productive scientific and professional outcome by the end of the Program, students" progresses are carefully monitored by three tutorial profiles. Besides the direct supervisor, each student is assigned an internal and an external co-supervisor.
The Internal Co-supervisor is a faculty member and should become a reference point for the student, contributing to their training and guide their choices.
The External Co-supervisor belongs to a foreign scientific institution and it is chosen based on the recognized scientific experience and his/her scientific affinity with the project.
The supervising team will independently assess progress in the thesis work and provide feedbacks to the program coordinator. Two main checkpoints are foreseen along the study period: probationary report at the beginning of the second year and the third year report that should be structured as a scientific paper.
Training & Education
During the first three years, students must courses for a total of 300 hours. They include a full multidisciplinary training in biology and medicine, as well as in logic, philosophy of sciences, ethics and epistemology. Moreover in the context of its training activities
SEMM organizes a series of scientific seminars. These are held weekly by internationally recognized scientists and cover a wide range of topics.
Journal clubs sessions are foreseen in the context of the first year courses. During the second year data clubs are scheduled on a monthly basis where each students must present their data to their mates. All the educational activities are held in English.
Doctoral Thesis
The PhD students can start drafting the thesis when he/she has obtained or is going to obtain the publication of part or all of his/her experimental work in an international journal. Thesis must be approved by the supervisor and by the two co-supervisors before being submitted to an examination panel.
The examination panel is made up of two examiners, an internal and an external one. The examination includes a public seminar and an oral examination during which the student will be given the opportunity to comment on any adverse points and on any revisions that the examiners intend to suggest. The examination panel will finally provide final recommendations about the award of the title. Students that obtained a positive outcome from the examination panel will then be evaluated by an Assessment Board appointed by the University of Milan that will finally award the student with the title.
Stipends are provided for each student for the entire period o study. The gross salary is 18.500 " per year.
Students are supported through two different types of fellowship:
University fellowships: every year the University of Milan will pay a number of fellowships.
External fellowships: these are fellowships paid through research funds or other financial support of the single group leader.
Extensions are foreseen, but must be agreed with the supervisor and approved by the faculty of SEMM.
Partial coverage for periods abroad is also foreseen. Any tuition fee is covered by SEMM.
To facilitate relocation, national non-resident and international students are offered, for the first month of their stay, free lodging at the guesthouse and are assigned a mobility allowance of variable amount. The SEMM office offers some logistic support to the students to find accommodation.