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About The EMTRAIN Joint Public Private Partnership PhD Framework

The future success of the pharmaceutical industry and the continued health and well-being of citizens in the EU is dependent upon the excellence of the biomedical science carried out in Europe’s universities and research institutions and on the quality and skills of the researchers arising from such centres. EMTRAIN ( seeks to support this goal by helping to develop a cadre of PhD students across the EU with a greater awareness of the pharmaceutical industry and of the specific issues and challenges that need to be addressed in the discovery and development of new medicines and vaccines.

As the model for PhD training continues to evolve across the EU, stimulated by the Bologna Process and supported by initiatives such as Orpheus ( the industry recognises the importance of ensuring that tomorrow’s researchers develop a greater understanding of the development of medicines and the needs of patients. As the current model for pharmaceutical R&D changes, leading to increased collaboration between big pharma, SME bioscience companies and academic centres, it is essential that PhDs arising from such Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) develop new skills in innovation, entrepreneurship and collaborating across boundaries – both scientific and geographic. Enhancing the mobility of researchers across Europe and between industry and academia will be critical in maintaining Europe’s competitiveness.

One of the mechanisms that EMTRAIN is developing to assist this important goal is the establishment of a framework document for implementing such public private partnership PhDs, building on best practice observed across the EU. This framework, will be used both to advise students on key competencies and to help employers identify such industry-aware PhDs. EMTRAIN is also contributing to the development of both an alumni network and an annual workshop for such PhD students to help them interact and network – thus promoting their cross-country and cross-institution interactions.

The EMTRAIN Joint Public Private Partnership PhD Framework 

  1. The PhD programme will roughly follow the Bologna process. National considerations have to be taken into account.
  2. The PhD programme will usually include 3.5 - 4 years of training. The PhD thesis should correspond to 3-4 years of research written up as a single monograph or as published papers in accordance with university guidelines. Publication of papers in peer-reviewed journals is encouraged. Details on the format of publications should be covered by the PhD contract.
  3. The EMTRAIN PhD student will have two supervisors; the main supervisor will be active in academia and the co-supervisor in industry.
  4. The EMTRAIN PhD student will spend a minimum of 3 months in industry and remaining time working on a research project in an academic environment. This will promote mobility between industry and academia.
  5. The EMTRAIN PhD student is recommended to attend courses, visit other laboratories and attend international meetings and workshops in accordance with the university requirements. One such event could be the annual EMTRAIN PhD Workshop. This will promote mobility across countries. EMTRAIN supports the use of the Bologna process for PhD training where courses or other learning activities corresponding to 30 ECTS credit points is recommended.
  6. The EMTRAIN PhD student should take a minimum of three EMTRAIN recommended core courses. These courses should correspond to 9 ECTS credit points or equivalent. One course should be on Drug Development. The remaining courses should be selected from a list of topics recommended by EMTRAIN. It is suggested that at least one course is taken abroad.