The PhD program Clinical and Experimental Oncology is a full-time degree program and can be completed in three years (minimum) of full-time study. PhD students have individual projects which are performed under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Through execution of the project, the PhDs gain both deep technical expertise and theoretical knowledge in cancer research.
All PhD students participating in the program undergo obligatory teaching events in propaedeutic topics such as "Ethics in Medicine and Good Scientific Practice" as well as "Intellectual Property Rights and Project Management" with together 2 ECTS points. Further obligatory teaching events comprise (i) lectures in "Basic Seminars" with together 4 ECTS points, (ii) Thesis Seminars with 18 ECTS points, (iii) Journal Clubs with 12 ECTS points, and (iv) Practical Seminars with 6 ECTS points.
The Basic Seminars cover a wide range of tumor biological aspects, the identification of therapeutic targets and diagnostic/prognostic biomarkers, cancer causes, risk factors and prevention strategies. Students choose Thesis and Practical Seminars as well as Journal Clubs based on their curiosity, existing knowledge and own research projects. Optional teaching events in the extent of 4 ECTS points include selected lectures in propaedeutics dealing with e.g. "Medical Statistics", "Experimental Studies in Animals" or "Basics in Scientific Writing and Presentation". In total, PhD students have to collect 180 ECTS points of which 46 ECTS are from courses.
The criteria for graduation are that all required credits have accomplished and that the thesis project has resulted in at least one first author publication in a highly-ranked scientific journal. The written PhD thesis is evaluated by two reviewers, i.e. one scientist from the Medical University of Vienna and one external scientist. The doctoral viva is held within the frame of a "Defensio dissertationis", which includes a public lecture followed by a scientific discussion.
PhD students are treated as professionals and sign an employment contract with the Medical University of Vienna. More than 60 PhD students have registered their thesis within the thematic program Clinical and Experimental Oncology (July 2021).