The BIST and UPF are starting the first master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Research in Experimental Sciences

The BIST and UPF are starting the first master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Research in Experimental Sciences

Unique in the entire Spanish State, it offers practical training in experimental research in high-level centres of various scientific disciplines. The academic inaugural ceremony signals the start of the master’s degree, which includes 14 students in its first class.



Presentació màster MRES - UPFA formal ceremony on 12 September to welcome the first 14 students selected saw the launch of the master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Research in Experimental Sciences, a joint academic programme of the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences at Pompeu Fabra University (UPF-DCEXS) and the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).

The event was held in the Josep Marull Hall at UPF’s Mar Campus and was presided over by Jaume Casals, UPF rector, and Andreu Mas-Colell, president of the BIST. In addition to the presentation of the course by its directors, Roderic Guigó and Robert Sewell, Dr. Niek Van Hulst, ICREA research professor at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), gave a talk on the Prospects for new scientists. “Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly in which direction to go when you study science. This master’s degree, despite being in experimental research, does not have academia as its only professional path: industry, business management and communication will be within your scope”. And he concluded: “Curiosity should serve to give you impetus, and science, as a source of fascination”.

The directors of the master’s degree, Roderic Guigó, adjunct lecturer at UPF and principal investigator of the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), and Rob Sewell, researcher and academic coordinator of the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), highlighted: “This programme aims to provide talented students with the chance to start their research career through intensive, in-depth training in laboratories and via an innovative, well-articulated academic programme. The students will join a vibrant, multidisciplinary research community and will have the opportunity to interact, learn and be inspired by leading scientists of the BIST, UPF and from all over the world”.

David Comas, director of the DCEXS at UPF, pointed out that: “this master’s degree course is the result of a joint effort between the BIST and UPF, aiming to delve into educational innovations and the most advanced research skills, and opens the doors to a myriad of future scientific challenges”.

“The master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Research in Experimental Sciences brings the BIST community together in a new way, and benefits from its multidisciplinary character to offer students a unique opportunity to work in this environment at the very top, throughout the world”, concluded Mas-Colell. 

Designed to provide its students with skills to ensure their inclusion in a research career in an increasingly complex and competitive environment, this one-year master’s degree is the first of its kind to be implemented in the Spanish State. It is unique for the weight of research within the training (40 of the master’s degree’s 60 credits) and its multidisciplinary character, which is especially — but not only —highlighted by the participation of each student during the academic year in two research projects in different disciplines (on which they will work 6 months and 10 weeks, respectively), to be carried out at two different research centres.

Niek Van Hulst - UPFIn addition to the experimental training through these two research projects, the students will receive training in cross-cutting subjects like statistics and image analysis, responsible research and scientific communication, and will participate in seminars and workshops on advanced research techniques, taught by top domestic and international researchers and specialists. The programme includes a Winter School (February 2018) on  microscopy, nanoscopy and image sciences, which will be given by specialists of the ICN2, the IRB Barcelona, the ​​CRG, the ICFO and the IFAE, and will allow students to receive theoretical and practical training in the most advanced techniques in this area, and their application in different disciplines. At the end of the master’s degree, which is taught entirely in English, the students must prepare a thesis with the results of their research and defend it orally before the scientific community of the BIST and the DCEXS.

The master’s degree faculty consists of researchers from the DCEXS and from BIST centres and among the international researchers who will be participating in seminars and workshops are Phillip N.  Messersmith, from the University of California, Berkeley;  Mauricio Barahona, from Imperial College (London);  Serena DeBeer, from the Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Energie Konversion (Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany);  Luca Giorgetti, from the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (Basel, Switzerland);  Ilaria Malanchi, from the Francis Crick Institute (London); and  Alain Blondel, professor of the University of Geneva and researcher at the CERN.

To access the new master’s degree, the students (graduates in experimental, health or engineering) have passed a rigorous selection process and have had to choose, from 56 research projects put forward by the BIST centres and the DCEXS, which were their preferences for their main research (6 months). The students will decide together with their tutor what the second research project (10 weeks) will be in order to complete their interdisciplinary training, which will be carried out in collaboration with a researcher from another centre. .

This freedom in the selection of the training track from the combination of different research projects, with a high level of scientific support, is one of the unique characteristics of this programme, which is inspired by successful international programmes such as the Master of Research – UCL CoMPLEX (University College London); the Master of Science at the Feinberg Graduate School (Weizman Institute, Israel); the International Master’s Programme on Molecular Medicine (Charité, Germany); el Master in Research in Biomedicine (University College London); or the MSc in Biomedical Sciences, at the University of Edinburgh. Like the BIST-UPF master’s degree, all these programmes are designed to act as an interface that prepares students to successfully enter high-level international doctoral programmes, providing them with the tools necessary to successfully lead complex and highly competitive research projects.