What is the Postgraduate Program in Functional and Molecular Biology (PPG-BFM)??
The Postgraduate Program in Functional and Molecular Biology (PPG-BFM) was created in August 1999 after joining old Postgraduate Programs in Biological Sciences-Biochemistry and Biological Sciences-Physiology of the Biology Institute of UNICAMP. The main objective of the Postgraduate Program in BFM is to train masters and doctors able to develop original and relevant scientific research that broadens the boundaries of the universal knowledge in Biochemistry and Physiology and provide higher education in Biochemistry and Physiology with high quality. In addition, the Postgraduate Program in BFM offers excellence, having received grade 6.0 in the evaluation of the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), the federal body that evaluates the postgraduate programs in Brazil. The PPG-BFM is a free program, and undergraduates in Biology, Biomedicine, Medicine, Pharmacy, Biotechnology, Nutrition, Physical Education and other related fields are eligible to study the program, as well as students from fields that are closely related to biological sciences, such as computer science. The admission is through a selection process, which usually takes place twice a year (July and November). The selection process involves approval in a general knowledge test held at UNICAMP, according to the corresponding program requirements. Our program receives young talents from all over Brazil and abroad. Its professors are highly qualified, and they conduct leading research mostly funded by the main public and private agencies that promote research in Brazil and abroad.
What will a student learn in this program?
Despite the emphasis in Biochemistry and Physiology, the program has a strong multidisciplinary character, allowing students to contact several areas of knowledge such as applied Microbiology, Biotechnology, Neurosciences, Vascular Diseases, Diabetes and Obesity, Immunology, Nanotechnology, Biology of Pain, among others. Contact with and training on cutting-edge techniques including sequencing, computational tools, cloning, real-time PCR, gene deletion using CRISPR-Cas9, are also differentiators of the students trained in the program.
Are there relevant research projects being conducted now in the different areas of the program?
Yes, many projects. In Physiology, we are seeking molecular targets for prevention and control of metabolic diseases with emphasis on targets associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and injury, atherosclerosis, neuronal and cardiac disorders, enabling the development of new drugs and strategies to combat/control diabetes, obesity, inflammation and cardiovascular diseases. Our young researchers also conduct projects to understand the interaction of nutrients provided in the diet or developed during the digestion process (bacterial metabolism) on the immune system responses to inflammation associated with obesity, and to understand the relationship among physical activity, nutrition and molecular aspects associated with the prevention of metabolic, cardiovascular, tumor and neural diseases. Another very prominent line is the study of peripheral tissue signaling mediated by exosomes and microRNAs in the context of metabolic diseases, including obesity. Finally, professors in the field of Bioinformatics have worked in collaboration with our students to develop models that explain the relationship between signaling mediated by protein/protein, microRNA/mRNA, protein/DNA interfaces. The diversity of themes is the characteristic of Biochemistry. The projects address human diseases, development of computational tools and general improvements, including research at the most elementary levels of Biochemistry. Some of the diseases covered are the most debilitating ones: cancer, brain disorders, vascular diseases and tropical diseases. Studies on the improvement of microorganisms for the production of enzymes with biotechnological application are also in progress, as well as the creation of Bioinformatics tools for education. In the field of basic science, the study of the function and structure of biological membranes and proteins are strengths of the program.
In what fields can the students work after concluding this program?
Students who conclude the program can work in research and educational institutions inside and outside the country. In addition, due to the innovative nature of our program, students can work as researchers for companies and startups in Biotechnology, developing studies and products in basic and applied areas in Physiology, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Agriculture, Medicine and Molecular Biology, among others. In addition, our program, and UNICAMP in general, encourages the production of patents and the development of innovative technologies.
What is the importance of this field, inside and outside Brazil?
Functional and Molecular Biology is responsible for generating frontier knowledge in the fields of Biological Sciences, especially in Biochemistry and Physiology. It investigates the functioning of biological processes in living organisms including the understanding of their biochemical and molecular bases.
Does the program offer any differentiation when compared to other universities?
The Postgraduate Program in Functional and Molecular Biology (PG-BFM) of the Biology Institute of Unicamp stands out from other universities for the high number of postgraduate students exceeding the number of undergraduate students and, therefore, creating an effervescent scientific environment of high academic level. As a result, our university is involved in important scientific discoveries, with scientific publications of great impact in different areas and generating highly relevant knowledge for the society. This rich university environment, highly linked with research and innovation, has an impact on the number of patents filed by the university every year, the highest of all Brazilian universities. Then, the BFM Postgraduate Program, one of the most well-respected in Brazil, has highly qualified and productive professors, whose research projects are funded by several state-owned entities and private companies.
How can I become a student in the program?
The first step is to find an accredited professor whose line of research is of your interest. After talking to the researcher about the possibilities of participation in the research project, the student should participate in the selection process that usually takes place twice a year (July and November), following the specific program requirements.