The International Doctoral Program

in Global Health, Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Medicine

The International Doctoral Program in Global Health, Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Medicine is a joint PhD course designed for highly qualified and motivated students who wish to enhance their research and analytical competencies in an international academic environment.

The program is offered by Università del Piemonte Orientale (UPO), Novara, Italy, through the Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine (CRIMEDIM) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium, through the Research Group on Emergency and Disaster Medicine (ReGEDiM).


The Programme will prepare students to conduct high quality research in the fields of global health, humanitarian aid and disaster medicine and to widely disseminate it to scholarly and other audiences with the overall objective of promoting knowledge and scientific evidence in these areas.

Each student will work under the supervision of leading professionals entering in one of the world's most dynamic and international communities by establishing a global academic network. This will contribute to strengthen and expand the international cooperation in the field of global health, humanitarian aid and disaster medicine and to provide future researchers and professionals with a solid and diversified background and competencies.

-RESEARCH THEMES- (to be agreed upon with Associate Universities)

PhD candidates in the Program will be required to perform a research study with strong affiliation to one of the three main themes: global health, humanitarian aid or disaster medicine. Proposals should adhere to disaster-related subjects or humanitarian context. Following are examples of some fields of research applicable in this context (other subjects can be proposed):

  • Global health;
  • Health and medicine in natural and technological disasters, humanitarian crises and conflicts, migration and displacement;
  • Humanitarianism and humanitarian assistance;
  • Disaster risk reduction disaster management and global resilience;
  • Emergency public health;
  • Health systems management;
  • Psycho-social aspects;
  • Ethical and legal aspects.

All research studies performed in the framework of the Doctoral Program must be overseen by a suitable supervisor affiliated with one of the Organizing Universities (OUs; i.e. UPO and VUB) or Associated Universities (AUs).


Induction Course: Accepted candidates will be required to attend an "induction course" within the first year of their enrollment. The induction course will be held each year in February, starting from February 2019. This course will be divided into two blocks: an introductory block to be performed in CRIMEDIM-UPO (Novara, Italy) and a reseach skill development block in ReGEDiM-VUB (Brussels, Belgium). All candidates will pass the same curriculum, independent of their research subject, to ensure a common basis of knowledge of students with different backgrounds and different scientific interests. The mandatory subjects to be covered:

  • Statistics (qualitative & quantitative methods)
  • Research Methodology and Epidemiology
  • Scientific English (writing and speaking)
  • How to apply to a research grant
  • How to present research results in public
  • Introduction to Global Health, Humanitarian Aid, and Disaster Medicine

Research Period: Subsequently, students will return to their research locations for their research period. Close contact between the students, their OUs or AUs supervisors and local supervisors (if applicable) will be maintained through the entire research period. Students will be required to submit research reports trimonthly and attend the OUs for the mid term report by completion of the first 14 months.

-PhD PROGRAM SCHEDULE- (proposed scheme)


The Program will be based on a network of the Organizing Universities (OUs), CRIMEDIMUPO and ReGEDiM-VUB, together with Associated Universities (AUs) that will provide the framework for PhD candidates to perform their research.

AUs partaking in this program could be benefited in several aspects. First, participating in this joint venture will facilitate academic networking with other associated universities and the joint activities conducted under the umbrella of the Doctoral Program. Second, AUs can propose PhD candidates to enroll in the program. Third, partaking in the Doctoral Program is expected to improve the academic status of participating scholars through visiting professorship, publications, promotion of scientific research projects, attendance to academic conferences, etc. Lastly, participating in this international collaborative effort could promote your academic standing and visibility, thus facilitating the possibility for obtaining external resources.

Alongside the benfits, AUs will be asked to assume several roles within the Doctoral Program framework. The responsibilities of AUs is divided into two main aspects: faculty and supervision.

As faculty, AUs will be asked to facilitate the learning that will take place in the course of the Doctoral Program, mainly within the context of the induction course. This includes:

  • Proposing and designing courses in line with the curicculm;
  • Participating as visiting proffessors or lecturers to provide the pre-designed courses;
  • Providing content for frontal or e-learning purposes;
  • Engaging in the academic development of PhD candidates through, for example, online forums and webinars.

Faculty members at AUs will be asked to provide a list of suitable staff willing and with the necessary academic background to act as PhD supervisors. Proposals deemed suitable in the selection process by the OUs will be submitted to the different AUs for matching to PhD supervisors on the basis of their specific field of expertise. AUs will report to OUs whether the PhD proposal is considered of interest as well as nomination of the appointed PhD supervisor.


The call for applications to the International Doctoral Program in Global Health, Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Medicine will open in June 2018. Admission to this Doctoral Program at the CRIMEDIM-UPO or ReGEDiM-VUB is highly competitive. Applicants must possess a very good academic record, international research experience, and a keen interest in global health, humanitarian aid and/or disaster medicine research. Admission to the programme takes place in two stages.

Stage 1: To be considered for a position on the course, candidates must submit ALL of the following documents by 30 June 2018:

  • Cover letter
  • Personal Statement indicating personal interest in the abovementioned field, including prior experience in research and/or field-work related to these topics
  • Updated Curriculum Vitae
  • Research Concept Note outlining the candidate’s proposed research written in the form of a research proposal
  • Copy of the candidate’s academic records
A selection committee will then select students according to the following criteria:
  • Applicability, soundness and expected impact of proposed research;
  • Staff capacity to provide supervision to the applicant within organizaing or associated universities; Students should clearly indicated in the Research Concept Note the availability of a local supervisor if the research project is intended to be conducted outside the Ous or AUs;
  • Satisfactory CV, academic record, and the impression of personal statement;
  • Available funding for the student’s PhD (either through self-funding or through existing research grants and/or bursaries, on-top-of the proposed scholarship)

Stage 2: Evaluation process by AUs. The proposals meeting the crietria for selection will be sent for evaluation by the appropriate AU, according to their fields of expertise. AUs will be asked to appraise the proposal and consider their capacity to propose a suitable in-house supervisor to guide the PhD student. Failure to nominate a specific supervisor will lead to an automatic rejection of the proposal.

Evaluations of AUs will be sent back to OUs for final approval and selection of final candidates.

Criteria for rejection of proposals after the first two stages:

  • Incomplete proposal submissions;
  • Poor quality or inaplicability of proposals, as deemed by the selection committe;
  • Inability to allocate and nominate a suitable supervisor from any of the OUs or AUs;

Stage 3: Scheduled interview

Candidates whose proposals passed the first two stages, will be required to undergo an interview with the selection committee. Failing to comply with this stage will also constitute a reason for rejecting a proposal. Interviews of candidates will be conducted in the second half of Septmber 2018. The interview will allow the program's faculty to get an unmediated impression of the final candidates, their enthusiasm to participate in the program and their determination to achieve a PhD within the timeframe of the program.

Should the candidate succeed beyond this selection process, s/he will then be asked to register before or during November 2018.

AUs will be notified of the selection process outcomes.

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