Virgilio Program – training physician scientists

The Virgilio Program is a joint effort of University of Milano-Bicocca, University of Milan and Humanitas University to train leaders in academic medicine. The program is designed to foster the development of independent scientific careers by providing a parallel academic track and an intensive training in scientific inquiry.
At the heart of Virgilio is our conviction that investment in research is the most effective pathway to educate future medical scientists. The Program builds on the existing strengths of our three universities in training our physician scientists of tomorrow.
I invite your interest to explore this program better at
Prof. Silvia Brunelli, PhD
Program Director, Virgilio

Developing Leaders in Academic Medicine 
 The University of Milano-Bicocca, University of Milan and Humanitas University are launching “Virgilio Program”, the first joint attempt of leading Universities in Italy in implementing an innovative pre-graduate training track in biomedical research for medical students. The program aims to develop and train medical students who are interested in deepening their understanding of research methods and ethics and the link between basic sciences and clinical sciences research. 
• To introduce medical students to the physician scientist career-path.   
• To train students in scientific inquiry and connect basic sciences in biomedicine with clinical medicine.   
• To provide mentored research experience to explore translational medicine as a career choice.
Virgilio is a merit based 3 years program that selects qualified students in the third year of their Post Graduate Degree in Medicine & Surgery enrolled at each of the three partner Universities who shall undergo the formative training spread over 4rd, 5th and 6th year of their academic degree course. The students will have the opportunity to gain research experience under the mentorship of tutors and leading physician-scientist mentors.
• Dedicate time in medical school exclusively to conducting research.
• Receive an individualized mentoring plan designed to meet your needs.
• Tailor the program to satisfy your unique research interests.
• Curriculum designed to equip you with the knowledge, skills and tools in translational medicine.

Virgilio Program curriculum augments the existing Medical School curriculum to help students build the skills and knowledge base to conduct significant biomedical research and navigate a career pathway as academic physician scientist.
During your 3 years in the Virgilio Program, the students will participate in theoretical courses and laboratory experience, as well as seminars and practicals, designed to integrate their research knowledge.  
The program contains in-depth formal didactic courses which are designed to help students acquire knowledge and skills related to research methods, information gathering, critical analysis & review and data processing..
Laboratory rotations and tutoring 
Alongside didactic courses are planned laboratory rotations of 4 weeks per academic year in order to enable students assimilate the theoretical knowledge acquired during the courses into practical experience. Laboratory rotations will be performed by the students across a portfolio of laboratories available in their University. 
During the laboratory experience, the students will be required to:
1. keep a daily diary on the activities performed in the lab, highlighting their role;
2. write a final scientific and personal growth report that summarizes the lab activities, their own contribution, their understanding of the research project, the methods learnt, skills obtained, and the relevance of the experience with respect to the learning goals of the year;
Each laboratory experience of the student will be supported by a tutor who will guide the research experience, provide scientific inputs and  at a later stage discuss thesis internship. 
Thesis Preparation 
During the final year of the degree course, the students will be involved in a research project as the topic of their final thesis. This period can be spent in a laboratory of any of the three partner universities, depending on the student’s choice of the thesis topic. Three awards will be given each year to the best thesis.
The program will ensure that all students receive extensive mentoring from preselected successful physician-scientists who are committed to the mentoring process. 


Prof. Andrea Biondi  University of Milano-Bicocca, Research Area: Cell biology, Immunology Genomics in pediatric leukemia

Prof. Pietro Invernizzi  University of Milano-Bicocca, Research Area:  Liver Immunology       

Prof. Silvia Brunelli University of Milano-Bicocca, Research Area: Stem cells and tissue repair in musculoskeletal disease                    

Prof. Gianluigi Condorelli Humanitas University, Research Area: Cardiovascular diseases, Epigenetics, hypertension       

Prof. Isabella Barajon,  Humanitas University, Research Area: Immune System, Nervous system

Prof. Raffaella Bonecchi Humanitas University, Research Area: Innate immunity, cancer monocytes & macrophages, chemokine receptors

Prof. Paolo Corradini University of Milan, Research Area: Genomics, T-cells lymphomas

Prof. Massimo Locati, University of Milan, Research Area: Tumor immunology, inflammation

Prof. Niccolò Bolli University of Milan, Research Area: Oncohematology

In order to support an individualized education and training program, the students will be assigned a Program Mentor at the beginning of the program.
The program mentors, who are successful physician-scientists, will meet regularly with the students to assist with major decisions and provide scientific inputs.
Instead, the tutors will be assigned during each laboratory rotation in order to guide the day to day research experience and provide academic support during thesis internship.


All participating Universities are home to many world class laboratories, where the students will gain the research experience. 

Through an internal Call for application, Virgilio Program aims to select 30 motivated applicants from each of the 3 partner Universities (10 places reserved per partner university) each year who will undergo supplementary course work and lab experience spread over fourth, fifth and sixth year of their single cycle degree course in Medicine & Surgery  and in the end will receive 60 additional ECTS recorded in their diploma supplement.
The admission is open to internal students enrolled in the 3rd year of the Medicine and Surgery Degree course who can demonstrate:
• An outstanding record of academic accomplishment
 to be enrolled for the first time in the 3rd year of the Medicine and Surgery Degree Course;
 to have acquired all the course credits (CFU) planned for the first two years, according to the Course Regulation;
 to have passed all the exams planned by the Course Regulation with a passing rate of min. 27/30.
• Strong interest in basic and translational research
• English language proficiency 
The joint selection committee from each of the 3 Partner Universities will screen all applications and invite well-qualified applicants to interview in-person or skype. Candidates will be admitted according to the order of ranking published on their respective University websites. 
The selection results will also be communicated via email to the students.


We are pleased to share a brief profile of our 1st selected batch for the academic year 2018.

*** This section will be updated soon *** 


Program administration
Program Director and Coordinator UNIMIB
Prof. Silvia Brunelli
Program Coordinator UNIMI
Prof. Paolo Corradini
Program Coordinator Humanitas University
Prof. Isabella Barajon