The Departments of Surgery and Morphological Science at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona have traditionally contributed to research in those fields with their own PhD programmes and numerous doctoral theses presented. Jointly, the departments offer the PhD in Surgery and Morphological Science, adapted to the new PhD regulations contained in Royal Decree 99/2011.

This PhD programme seeks to ensure that students can acquire the necessary competences as researchers in different specialist fields in the areas of surgery, the field of anatomy and embryology and the field of pathological anatomy, on a structural and molecular level within the broader field of health sciences.

In order to achieved the planned objectives series of research lines are proposed including some of the most important aspects in the taught and research plans for each of the major specialisations that make them up from the chosen area of surgery or morphological science.

Students receive preparation through research competences. According to the chosen line of research it is possible to work in the area of experimental clinical surgery, with self-critical observational analytical studies, trials of drugs, materials and scientific products that have been successfully tested on laboratory animals, but not yet on humans, or have not been studied comparatively to be able to understand their use and the impact they have in terms of treatment. It is also possible to do laboratory research with animals which will allow a faster contribution to scientific progress to ensure that surgical practice uses controlled products and procedures, minimising problems and avoiding, where possible, undesirable effects and unnecessary costs, and offering broader knowledge of the physiopathology of syndromes, illnesses and surgical processes and developing innovations and can improve care strategies.

In the field of morphological science it is possible to carry out research in the field of organogenesis, in the normal and pathological development of different organs and systems and in the learning methodology for human anatomy and embryology. In the field of pathological anatomy, the main lines of research are oriented towards the molecular bases of cancers of all kinds, especially in terms of signalling pathways, progression factors and prognostic markers and response to treatment.

Candidate profile

The specific requirements of this PhD programme aim to establish a student profile that maximises the chances of success on the programme.

The student profile is that of someone wishing to build a research career in surgery or morphological sciences, and to take a leading role in transferring knowledge to society.

It includes the following elements.

  • General knowledge of the basic subject areas within bachelor's degree and master's degree studies in the health sciences.
  • Analytic skills and an interest in the advances being made in the field of surgery and morphological sciences.
  • Interest in research training and teaching in the different surgical specialisations, human anatomy and/or embryology, or in the morpholigical and molecular aspects of pathological anatomy.
  • Ability to work in groups, dedication, ability to make decisions.
  • Ability to communicate, understand and transmit abstract concepts in more than one language, especially in English.

The principal career option provided by this PhD programme is that of joining research institutes in hospitals or healthcare centres with research projects in place in their services or departments.

Professional opportunities

Currently, this PhD programme counts towards applicants' scores in selection processes for medical positions in all areas: care provision, teaching, research and management. By incorporating PhD graduates in surgery and morphological sciences, work on safety and technological innovation in this field can be ensured.

In future, they can play a leading role in research teams in science parks and institutes, working directly on experimental models of diseases and surgical techniques.

All of this means greater opportunities:

  • to become a professional working in the healthcare sector, in the area of surgery or pathological anatomy;
  • to join hospitals or healthcare centres with research projects in place in their services or departments, especially those attached to research institutes or science parks;
  • to join the academic world, whether in secondary education (modules related to the health sciences) or at university, especially in the field of surgery, human anatomy or pathological anatomy.

Objectives and justification

The PhD in Surgery and Morphological Science seeks to ensure students learn to apply a scientific-experimental method in order to contribute to progress and safety in care strategies, diagnosis and treatment in the particular area of surgery chosen. The aim of the programme is to train researchers to be able to begin and complete an original, innovative and quality research project satisfactorily. The research takes the form of a doctoral thesis. Researchers also have to show broad knowledge of the specific bibliography of the subject and knowledge of the main debates and most recent scientific contributions, especially in their particular area of research.

Research infrastructure

Besides the physical resources for teaching and research that the UAB provides for all its PhD programmes, students on this programme can also make use of the following research infrastructures.

  • Teaching Units: Hospital de Sant Pau i de la Santa Creu, Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron, Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, Hospital del Mar and Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí-Sabadell).

Each of the five teaching units is in a high-level tertiary or regional hospital with all clinical care services (including general surgery and surgical specialisations) and diagnostic support services such as the Pathological Anatomy and Radiology Service, as well as classrooms in which clinical sessions are held (the service's own or multi-departmental), a library and access to each centre's own clinical information system. PhD students in these specialisations can conduct their experiments or clinical and translational research work in these services and have at their disposal all the hospitals' physical and information infrastructures.

Under the terms of the agreements between the UAB and these hospitals, the latter place specific physical and instrumental resources at the disposal of the university for teaching and research purposes.



Xavier Serra Aracil



Department of Surgery
Medicine Faculty - Unitat Docent de la Vall d'Hebron
Passeig de la Vall d'Hebron, 119-129
08035 Barcelona
Phone 93 428 2519 - Fax 93 428 2710

User information: from monday to friday 9:30h - 13:30h


Number of places available: 60
Fees: aprox. €540 per year View detail of the PhD's fees
Organising universities and institutions:
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Associated departments or institutes:
Department of Morphological Sciences
Department of Surgery
Health Sciences

Need more information? Contact the programme manager filling in this form: *Required fields

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