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Luis Ferraz

Studente

YEASTDOC Innovative training network

In 2018 I started my PhD program at the University of Milano Bicocca, at Professor Branduardi’s laboratory, within the YEASTDOC ITN project funded by the European Union H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

Introduce yourself (nationality, previous studies, institution of co-tutelle…)

My name is Luis Ferraz, I am from Portugal. I have a Master’s degree in Bioengineering obtained at the University of Minho. In 2018 I started my PhD program at the University of Milano Bicocca, at Professor Branduardi’s laboratory, within the YEASTDOC ITN project funded by the European Union H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

Briefly describe your PhD project 

Yeasts are unicellular fungi used in many sectors of biotechnology to make products such as fermented foods and beverages, feed, biofuels, industrial chemicals, flavours, enzymes, and pharmaceuticals. Currently, most commercial yeast biotechnological applications use Saccharomyces cerevisiae as this species has been very well characterized. 

In my project, we focused on the development of S. cerevisiae strains capable to tolerate the stress caused by weak organic acids, by trying to modify the plasma membrane composition of the cells. The plasma membrane plays a key role in the robustness towards weak organic acids, since it controls the diffusion of acids into and out of the cell, acting as a selective gate and changing its composition in response to the presence of the organic acids. The ultimate goal is to develop more efficient microbial cell factories to be used in the production of goods starting from renewable biomasses, in a context of circular bioeconomy.

What are the advantages of participating in an ITN project?

Being part of an ITN as YEASTDOC is a big privilege. ITNs are based on the principle of international mobility: each PhD student of the network has the opportunity to work at two different Universities across Europe and also at one Industrial partner. YEASTDOC is a Joint Doctorate, which means that each PhD student will be awarded a double doctoral degree from two different universities. In this type of ITN, in addition to a PhD research project, we undertake courses and training modules in diverse topics, addressing key transferable skills and competencies common to all fields and fostering the culture of Open Science, innovation and entrepreneurship.

How will the involvement in this PhD project boost your career?

Marie Curie fellowships are one of the most prestigious fellowships in Europe. When this position came to my knowledge I became very enthusiastic because this could be a great opportunity to get me to the next level on the scientific development I was looking for. Being a PhD student within the YEASTDOC Doctoral Program, under the mentorship of leading scientists allowed me to develop both as a researcher and person. The transferable skills that we acquire during courses and training provided by the ITN will allow us to easily adapt to different work environments. Overall, ITNs like YEASTDOC train ESRs to be high-level critical thinkers with a wide set of skills in addition to their specialist know-how which I found very valuable and helpful in current competitiveness of the labor market.

 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 764927

Luis Ferraz

Studente

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