UAlg wants to train medical researchers in a new “sandwich” doctorate

A new doctoral program at the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences of the University of Algarve, to be promoted in partnership with the Champalimaud Foundation, is being approved.

Photo: Gonçalo Dourado/Sul Informação - File

Training doctors who are also researchers in the most diverse areas is the objective of an innovative course that the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (FMCB) of the University of Algarve wants to launch as of the next academic year, in partnership with the Champalimaud Foundation. The academy has already submitted a “sandwich” PhD for approval by the Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education (A3ES), with a total duration of seven years, and expects to obtain authorization to launch it in «September or October 2022».

This new training offer aims to train “people who are well positioned to be able to do translational medicine and research. In other words, we want to create professionals who are, at the same time, doctors and researchers», he told the Sul Informação Isabel Palmerim, director of the FMCB and the Integrated Masters in Medicine (MIM) at UAlg.

«It is obvious that, currently, we already have some doctors who are researchers, but, normally, they are more of clinical research. Here, we intend that the doctor can make the translation from the basic to the clinical. That's why they are here for the first two years in Medicine, to catch our PBL cases (Problem Based Learning), to have all the bases of medicine», he explained.

«Then, they go to the doctorate with a mind formatted for medicine and, when they finish, they go to the hospital with a doctor/researcher's mind. We are talking about research in the most diverse areas: Biochemistry, Neurosciences, Embryonic Development, Pharmaceuticals, among others», stated Isabel Palmeirim.

UAlg's intention to move forward with this training offer had already been announced in July, in a session attended by Manuel Heitor, Minister of Higher Education.

At the time, Paulo Águas, rector of UAlg, explained to our newspaper that what is at stake is «a sandwich doctorate».

Students who enter this doctorate do the first two years with the other MIM students. «But when they reach the second year of our medical course – which is four years old – they don’t go on to the third and start a doctorate».

«After completing the doctoral program, they return to Ualg to complete the medical course. They will finish the course three years later than the other colleagues who did not follow this path, but who already have a PhD. These students first have a doctorate and then become doctors», summarized Paulo Águas.

The rector of UAlg points out that this offer is only possible «because all the people who enter the MIM already have an academic degree, which allows them to enter a doctoral program».

These students, who will be, according to Isabel Palmerim “eight a year”, are not students “who enter the master's degree and are chosen by us for this program. These are students who are already on this route. Some will be the ones who enter to do the so-called normal medicine course - although ours is anything but normal - and others will be the ones who enter to do this program sandwich», he explained.

“We will have vacancies in medicine and this will be a different training offer, which, in the first two years and in the last two, crosses with medicine”, he added.

The doctorates «will be carried out in the two institutions involved. There will be doctoral programs at the Champalimaud Foundation and here at UAlg. 50% of the students will be on one side, the other 50% on the other».

The progress of this new course depends on the approval of A3ES, which, if confirmed, should arrive «in May», concluded Isabel Palmerim.