Candidates can apply to the following SANFEED programme topics until
29 September 2017:

  • Modulating the protein profile and technological value of milk, emphasizing on casein enrichment through a nutritional approach (WP1)

    Supervisory team: António Mira Fonseca (REQUIMTE, LAQV, ICBAS-UP) and Isabel Ferreira (REQUIMTE, LAQV, FF-UP)

    Industrial Representative: António Manuel Gomes Godinho (Sorgal – Soja de Portugal)

    Description of the research programme:
    Nowadays, the dairy industry is been more concerned with the health and technological aspects of milk and milk products, and with the possibilities of modifying their composition, namely by dietary approaches. The main objective of this proposal is to evaluate feeding strategies, at both rumen and whole animal levels (including trials with lactating dairy cows), towards the increase of dietary nutrient use efficiency and technological value of milk. Milk protein profile (especially casein enrichment), a key point to assess technological value of milk, will be evaluated by size exclusion and reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography/UV. Additionally, the amino acids (AA) profile (with the exception of tryptophan) will be determined by acid hydrolysis method and further derivatization. All AA (except tryptophan) will be separated by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Environmental implications of the novel feeding strategies might be expected through their impact on greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen excretion while increasing energy and nitrogen efficiency. At the farm level, novel strategies will contribute for an improvement of production efficiency and for a raise in the economic value of milk resulting in an increase in the income over feed cost.

  • TOPIC II: Identification and detection of biomarkers for carbohydrates and proteins fermentation pattern in ruminant animals (WP1)

    Supervisory team: Inês Maria Valente (REQUIMTE, LAQV), Ana Rita Cabrita (REQUIMTE, LAQV/ICBAS-UP), Hugo Oliveira (INL)

    Industrial Representative: Francisco Castanheira (Alltech), Luís Ferreira (AGROS)

    Description of the research programme:
    The high economic importance of livestock in the world requires a constant concern with the productivity efficiency of the sector, which greatly depends on feeding practices and disease control. The products of rumen fermentation have distinct functions in animal metabolism and consequently in the ruminants’ health and nutritional status. Imbalanced diets containing high levels of fermentable carbohydrates or proteins are related to several consequences in ruminants’ efficiency by alterations in feed intake and degradability, besides having consequences in animals’ health. As example, diets containing high levels of starch decrease fibre digestion since starch hydrolysis and fermentation produces high amounts of volatile fatty acids and lactic acid. Besides, the decrease of the rumen pH can lead to ruminal acidosis. Acidosis has a high economic impact in the livestock sector as it highly affects not only feed intake but also the overall animal performance, being also associated to other health issues such as diarrhea, rumen mucosal damage, inflammation and liver abscesses, and laminitis. This project aims the characterization of the products arising from the ruminal fermentation of carbohydrates and proteins, that can constitute biomarkers of fermentation pattern contributing to the diagnosis of digestive and metabolic upsets. After an in vitro profiling of products from ruminal fermentation of different diets, the presence and identification of these markers will be assessed in animals from commercial dairy farms. The development of integrated systems for in-vivo detection of the identified biomarkers or other physical-chemical parameters will be prosecuted.

  • TOPIC III: Modeling biofilm microbial community to optimize water quality and fish health in a marine Recirculating Aquaculture System (WP2)

    Supervisory team: Ana Paula Mucha (CIIMAR), Catarina Magalhães (CIIMAR), Eliane Silva (ICBAS-UP)

    Industrial Representative: Isidro Blanquet (Sea8), Diogo Rosado (Sea8)

    Description of the research programme:
    Recirculating aquaculture systems (RASs) provide opportunities to reduce water usage and to improve waste management and nutrient recycling, making intensive fish production compatible with environmental sustainability. Managing disease outbreaks pose specific challenges in RAS in which a healthy microbial community contributes to water purification and water quality. Minerals, drug residues, hazardous feed compounds and metabolites may accumulate in the system and affect fish health, quality and safety. How the different factors interact and influence the fish and the various purification reactors are still poorly understood. The main objective of this proposal is to model the microbial communities of a marine RAS, with special emphasis on the biofilter, in order to control water quality and bacterial infections throughout the production cycle. The work will be developed in a sole hatchery, and will start with the characterization of the microbial communities both from the biofilters and from the fish microbiomes. In this phase, a characterization of the water quality in the different compartments will be carried out, not only in terms of physico-chemical parameters but also in terms of pathogenic bacteria, with special focus on Tenacibaculum maritimum. After, experiments will be developed in the laboratory in which the microbial communities of the biofilms will be modeled to control water quality and the presence of pathogenic bacteria. At a later stage, the modeling process will be optimized at laboratory trials using fish, water and biofilm inoculum from the hatchery, and finally implemented in the real system in order to validate its efficiency.

  • TOPIC IV: Improving immune function in newborn calves through milk replacer and starter supplementation (WP3)

    Supervisory team: Alexandra Correia (IBMC/i3S), Margarida Maia (REQUIMTE; LAQV, FC-UP) and Manuel Vilanova (ICBAS-UP/IBMC/i3S)

    Industrial Representative: Isabel Ramos (CAVC), Elisabete Martins (INVIVO NSA)

    Description of the research programme:
    Newborn calves are susceptible to intestinal and respiratory infectious diseases. In the first weeks of life, antibodies passively transferred via colostrum can provide immune protection from infection. However, in the period when the level of maternal antibodies already declined and the calf’s immune system did not yet reach functional maturity, there is a higher susceptibility to these infectious diseases. Therefore, boosting systemic and mucosal immunity in calves during this period would expectedly reduce calf morbidity and mortality. This goal may be achieved by using immune modulators in the form of dietary supplements, that could assist calves during immunity development. β-glucans, usually of yeast origin, have proven immune-stimulating properties, inducing innate cell activation, enhanced cytokine production and a change in the metabolic state of the cell with a shift from oxidative phosphorylation to aerobic glycolysis, a phenomenon known as “trained immunity”. Purified yeast extracts are also rich in bioactive peptides. Although the characterization of these molecules is very recent, there is compelling evidence supporting the contribution of these peptides to the reinforcement of the intestinal barrier and protection of the host. Microalgae are also good candidates to use as diet supplements. They contain high levels of protein and are good sources for lipids and carbohydrates, including β-glucans. Additionally, these organisms can be easily enriched with micronutrients or biomolecules of interest. The main objectives of this study are: 1) to characterize in vitro the effect of purified yeast extracts enriched in β-glucans and bioactive peptides on the immune function of selected bovine leukocyte populations; 2) to assess in vivo and ex-vivo the effect of milk replacer supplementation with purified yeast extracts enriched in β-glucans and bioactive peptides on calves’ immune function; 3) to assess in vivo and ex-vivo the effect of starter supplementation with microalgae on calves’ immune parameters.

  • TOPIC V: Gut health improvement in marine fish and shrimp through fortified diets: focus on inflammatory condition, immune status and microbiota diversity (WP3)

    Supervisory team: Benjamín Costas (CIIMAR), Paulo Martins da Costa (ICBAS-UP), Cláudia Serra (CIIMAR)

    Industrial Representative: Jorge Dias (SPAROS)

    Description of the research programme:
    The concept of maintaining animal health through the best possible nutrition is well-accepted in modern animal farming. Particularly for fish and shrimp production, there has been a compelling need to increase the dietary use of alternative protein sources including by products from agriculture, fisheries or the slaughtering of terrestrial production animals. Plant proteins (PP) are currently the most important alternative to fish meal (FM), given their high availability and good price. Alternative ingredients must provide nutritious diets that effectively grow aquatic species with minimal environmental impact and produce high-quality flesh to confer human health benefits in a cost-effective manner. However, a recognized disadvantage in most plant-derived nutrient sources is the presence of heat stable antinutritional factors (ANF) that may condition its nutritional value by altering digestion and nutrient utilization. Consequently, animal homeostasis could be compromised increasing its susceptibility to oxidative stress. Nowadays, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and pro- and prebiotics are currently being orally administered to farmed animals in order to improve their growth performance, immune status, antioxidative system and disease resistance. SCFAs showed high potential for improving intestinal absorption, increasing epithelial cell proliferation, differentiation and motility in humans and livestock. Prebiotics are important additives which may improve fish health status by modulating the host gut microbiota. These are non-digestible fibers that can selectively improve growth and/or activity of bacteria from the gut microflora, that have received considerable attention due to their health benefits to fish. The main goal of this proposal is to provide a better understanding of the influence of SCFAs, prebiotics and probiotics supplementation in extreme diets on gut integrity, microbiota diversity, immune mechanisms (including inflammation) and disease resistance in fish and shrimp. This project should allow the development of fortified commercial diets with specific knowledge-based formulations, hence supporting better farming results in terms of growth and disease susceptibility of aquatic animals. The project should focus on Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) as target species to develop commercial solutions. A holistic approach using transcriptomics, immunohistochemistry, histology, plasma immune parameters, nutrient digestibility and growth/challenge trials will be used. This project will develop standardized models for gut dysbiosis in both tilapia and shrimp. Growth trials will be planned with a bacterial (fish) or a viral (shrimp) challenge at the end. Data gathered in this proposal will assist on the development of biomarkers for inflammation and immune condition in fish and shrimp.

Admission criteria

Students to be recruited will be selected by the Directive board of SANFEED programme on the basis of high academic achievements, their prior knowledge/skills in the proposed research field and an assessment of their potential and commitment to complete high quality research.

The candidates to SANFEED must hold the following academic/professional qualifications:

  1. Master's degree or legal equivalent in Animal Science, Biology, Veterinary, or related field;
  2. Graduation degree (first cycle) with an especially relevant academic, scientific or professional curriculum, recognized by the Directive Board as suitable to carry out this cycle of studies;
  3. Holder of especially relevant academic, scientific or professional curriculum, recognized by the Directive Board suitable to carry out this cycle of studies.
  4. All candidates will be required to demonstrate their proficiency in English, either by proving that they are English native speakers, or by submitting the results of a recognized language proficiency test:
    1. a recent TOEFL Certificate: minimum score: 57 points (Paper) or 87 points (Internet);
    2. a recent IELTS Certificate: minimum score: 6.5;
    3. a recent First Certificate in English of the University of Cambridge;
    4. a recent Certificate of a University Language Centre testifying that the student masters the necessary knowledge of English to function academically - C1 level; or
    5. a recent proof that the candidate followed at least 2 years of higher education taught in English.
  5. Foreign students who fulfill the requirements to be eligible to the scholarship should have at least basic knowledge of Portuguese, being recommended to attend a Portuguese language course at UP. This basic knowledge of Portuguese language should be demonstrated by a short letter in Portuguese, explaining the level of knowledge of Portuguese language and how this was obtained.

The admission is conditioned by the acceptance and approval of the application by the Director of the programme. Finally, the right to being admitted in the cycle of studies leading to a PhD degree acquired after approval and acceptance of the application is formalized in the act of registration at the ICBAS Postgraduate affairs office, which must occur within legally established dates each year.

Application process

Applications should be submitted online, via the SIGARRA platform, selecting Online applications, Doctoral Programme in Animal Science - Admission scheme in Doctoral Programme. The payment of the UP application fee (55€), to ICBAS, University of Porto, is mandatory. To pay the application fee the option "Current Account" must be accessed on the right side of the screen and the respective ATM reference will be generated. The application will be only considered valid after the reception of confirmation of the payment by the SIBS.

For further information on how to apply and detailed guidance, applicants are suggested to contact the ICBAS Postgraduate affairs office - Ana Paula Pereira::

E-mail: |

Phone: +351 22 042 80 06/07/21/26
Opening hours: 10.00-12:00h and 14:00-15:30h


  • SANFEED application-form including personal details and research project synopsis related to a SANFEED topic (download file below)
  • Identity card/Passport
  • Motivation letter
  • Sample of own scientific text (e.g. international publication)
  • English proficiency proof
  • Degrees certificates
  • Short letter in Portuguese (only for foreign students)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Reference letters (Maximum two)
  • Confirmation of the application fee payment by the SIBS

All applications will be checked on their technical admission requirements and according to FCT regulations. In case candidates do not fulfill these requirements they will not be academically reviewed. Some candidates might also be interviewed. The selection of eligible candidates will be based on the candidate’s abilities, interest and enthusiasm for the selected research topic taking into consideration pre-defined criteria and a balance among WPs. Each member of the Directive Board will assess and score each eligible application according to the following criteria: 1) quality of the CV as indicated by (i) academic formation and degrees qualifications (ii) previous knowledge/research skills (1-40 points); 2) adequacy of the candidate skills, abilities and capabilities from the thesis project elaborated by the candidate (1-40 points); 3) good command of English oral and written expression (1-10 points); 4) basic knowledge of Portuguese language (1-5 points); personal motivation and career plan (1-5 points); and 5) recommendation letters (1-5 points).

The short-listed best applicants will be notified until the 20th October 2017 and asked by e-mail to submit a selective application under a provisional assigned topic. These candidates are put into direct contact with the potential supervisors, who will assist them in developing a detailed and sound thesis project that will be submitted to the Secretary of the Animal Science Doctoral Programme until the 25th October 2017. The provisory results will be announced until the 27th October 2017.

Final results will be announced until the 15th November 2017 and selected students will have to register in the Postgraduate affairs office from 16th to 24th November 2017. These students will also have to contact ICBAS’ Treasury Department for payment of the registration process (100,00€ for inscription and 2,00€ for insurance) according the legislation at the registration date.

Numerus clausus

The Program accepts a maximum of 5 students in 2017 fully funded by bursaries from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and the SANFEED industrial partners according to FCT regulations.

Application Form

form here


ICBAS Postgraduate affairs office

Phone: +351 22 042 80 06/07/21/26

Opening hours:
10h:00 - 12h:00
14h:00 - 15h:30

Director of the SANFEED

António José Mira da Fonseca

Director of the SANFEED
scientific board

Luísa Maria Pinheiro Valente