The Future of Postgraduate Education

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A celebration of 30 years of Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência PhD programs focused on the future of graduate education
30 years ago, António Coutinho and Alexandre Quintanilha embarked on a groundbreaking endeavor, crafting a PhD program that would go on to inspire many others. Setting it apart from any existing program in Europe at the time, their visionary approach served as a prototype for many programs to come. This initiative involved a year of immersive classes led by world-renowned researchers, fostering critical thinking, and providing an understanding of the foundations and challenges of modern biology. Furthermore, it empowered students to select mentors from anywhere in the world, encouraging them to dream beyond existing frontiers of knowledge, and define their own research projects.

Over the years, the IGC PhD programs have propelled over 1000 students towards success. These graduates and their scientific progeny constitute more than 50% of the ERCs in Life Sciences in Portugal and many have taken prominent roles as directors of research institutions, CEOs of companies, patent attorneys, and science managers, among other science-related professions. As the world faces diverse challenges such as global health, climate change and disinformation, the achievement of a healthy and sustainable society becomes increasingly dependent on science and technology. However, while remarkable technological tools are available to advance scientific knowledge, including AI, gene editing and the ability to understand complex systems, there is a global crisis when it comes to attracting talented individuals to pursue careers in the life sciences. 
In our quest to envision the future of graduate education, we are bringing together a diverse group of individuals, including current PhD students, leaders responsible for graduate education in the United States and Europe, policymakers, and industry representatives. We recognize the need to critically examine existing practices and systems and seek to foster innovative thinking and challenge conventional approaches. At the core of our discussions lie fundamental questions that underpin the essence of PhD training. We aim to delve into the purpose that PhD training should serve and explore the most effective ingredients and format to accomplish this objective. Ultimately, we aspire to envision an ideal PhD training paradigm—a dream scenario that would foster the development of future scientific and societal leaders. Through the collaborative efforts of this meeting, we will generate a white paper that encapsulates emerging insights and recommendations. 


9:00 – Coffee & Registration

9:30 – Welcome

António Feijó
(FCG President);
Mónica Bettencourt-Dias
(IGC Director);
Isaltino de Morais
(Oeiras Mayor)

Video about the impact of the Program

10:00 – Building on the past toward future

History of the programs

António Coutinho
(Co-Director of PGDBM (1st IGC PhD program); Former Director of the IGC, IGC and Champalimaud Foundation)
Chaired by Ana Godinho
(Head of Education, Communications and Outreach at CERN; IGC Alumni)

10:30 – Making the PhD relevant 

Tim Stearns
(Professor, Dean of Graduate and Postgraduate Studies, Vice President of Education The Rockefeller University)
Chaired by Thiago Carvalho
(Science writer, IGC Alumni)

11:00 – Coffee break

11:30 – Important challenges for the future

Round Table organized by current IGC PhD delegates

Sara Baptista 
(IGC & ITQB NOVA Innovation Office, IGC Alumni)
Manuel Vasquez
(IGC, PhD Candidate)
Joe Paton 
(Champalimaud Research Co-Director)
Ilana Gabanyi
(IGC, Group Leader)
Thiago Carvalho
(Science writer, IGC Alumni)

Moderated by Yathard Bhasin
(IGC, PhD Candidate)

13:00 – 14:00 – Lunch

14:00 – The challenge of interdisciplinary science and the opportunity of AI

Building an interdisciplinary graduate school  
Nick Barton
(Professor at Institute of Science and Technology Austria)
Chaired by Tiago Paixão
(Head of Advanced Data Analysis UNIT, IGC; IGC Alumni)

14:30 – Tools for transparent and reproducible science

Susan Holmes
(Professor of Statistics, Stanford University)
Chaired by Isabel Duarte
(PhD CINTESIS, Universidade do Algarve, Faro, Portugal)

15:00 – Coffee break

15:30 – What should PhD training be good for?

Round table

Pedro Santa Clara
(Director at 42 Lisboa and 42 Porto)
Alexandre Quintanilha
(President of the Parliamentary Comission for Education and Science, Scientist and Former Co-Director of PGDBM (1st IGC PhD program)
Isabel Rocha
(NOVA Vice-rector for Science & Innovation)
Marta Agostinho
(EU-LIFE Executive Director)

Moderated by Sara Sá
(Science Journalist in Exame Informática Grupo Trust In News)

17:00 – Wrap up by current Students (IGC PhD Delegates) & Alumni (Joana Sá, LIP, IGC Alumni)

17:30 – Closing session

Pedro Nuno Teixeira 
Secretary of State for Higher Education 

Mónica Bettencourt-Dias
(IGC Director)


For Alumni, former Directors, Speakers & current students

18:30 – Visit the vineyards of Carcavelos

19:00 – Alumni Debate with wine tasting at Palácio do Marquês

20:30 – Dinner & Party at IGC

Com o apoio

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