A critical spirit and an open mind from the part of the students were nurtured and strongly encouraged.

Introduction

Progress in life sciences is increasingly dependent on the research and development in Computational Biology. In recent years, this interdisciplinary research area underwent a great development at an international scale that was not encompassed by a corresponding development in Portugal.

In early 2005, the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, the SIEMENS SA Portugal, and the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian decided to join efforts to promote a pilot PhD Program in Computational Biology.

The PhD Program in Computational Biology aimed to ensure the training of a limited number of PhDs in this area at an internationally competitive level. This program was organized by the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in cooperation with several national and international institutions, and runned in close interplay with a FLAD Collaboratorium in Computational Biology.

The PhD Program in Computational Biology was structured as a four-year program divided into one year of full-time courses, workshops and projects on the main aspects of computational biology from the biological, computational, mathematical, chemical and physical points of view, and three years of research training in a recognised laboratory anywhere in the world, including Portugal. Non-national citizens were accepted but were only eligible for FCT funding if they did their research training in a portuguese research lab. The choice of the laboratory was left to the student but had to meet the standards set by the Program Direction.

The objectives of the training program were:

  1. to introduce the inter-disciplinary field of computational biology by giving students a wide culture on most of its aspects;
  2. to offer in-depth research training in one area of computational biology chosen by each student in the end of first year of the Program.

A critical spirit and an open mind from the part of the students were nurtured and strongly encouraged. The courses during this first year were given mostly by renowned invited researchers from Europe and beyond.

Applications to the fourth and last edition of the PhD Program in Computational Biology were accepted in 2008.