Doc­toral can­did­ates and Su­per­visors

DPDR has approximately 130 Doctoral candidates. About 15 doctoral theses are published annually.

Supervisors in the DPDR work in the area of drug research and toxicological research. They are usually professors and principal investigators at the University of Helsinki, however, researchers at other research institutes may co-supervise a DPDR doctoral candiate. In addition, each student has a follow-up/thesis committee group.

Fac­ulties and part­ners of DPDR

University page:

- Faculty of Pharmacy (host faculty)
- Faculty of Medicine (Medicum): Pharmacology and Clinical pharmacology
- HiLIFE: Institute of Biotechnology, Neuroscience Center, FIMM
- Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
- Faculty of Science
- Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry
- Industry, Fimea, NIHW, pharmacies and other organisations

Part­ners and co-op­er­a­tion

DPDR is a part of the national FinPharmaNet network.

International partners include ULLA (European consortium for [Post Graduate] Training in the Field of Pharmaceutical Sciences), The Paul Ehrlich European Medicinal Chemistry Ph.D. Network, GPEN (Globalization of Pharmaceutical Education Network) and Nordic POP. DSHealth and it’s doctoral programmes are members of NorDoc (Nordic Doctoral training in health sciences) network which is under development at the moment. Courses for Doctoral candidates are free in the member Universities.

Doctoral candidates in the DPDR are usually also members of a scientific society in their own field, for example, Finnish Pharmaceutical Society, Finnish Pharmacological Society, Finnish Society of Clinical Pharmacology and the Finnish Society of Physical Pharmacy.


Life cycle of medicines

New re­quire­ments

Starting from 1.8.2017, the doctoral studies in the DPDR programme consist of three parts: 

  1. a doctoral thesis,
  2. scientific studies (30 credits), and
  3. studies in transferrable skills (10 credits).

The scientific studies (30 ECTS) consist of discipline-specific studies supporting the thesis research work as well as:

  • obligatory course in research ethics (min 1 ECTS)
  • and obligatory annual thesis committee meetings and reports (0 ECTS)

The transferrable skills (10 ECTS) are organized by DSHealth. Note that Laboratory animal science NEU-603 is obligatory for all DPDR doctoral candidates working with lab animals (if not completed before)

Information on the degree requirements in DPDR can be found from the WebOodi Course Catalogue Service.

More information on the degree structure is also available on the University's general website on doctoral education.

Trans­fer­ring to the new de­gree struc­ture

(This notice is aimed at all doctoral candidates, whose study right has begun prior to August 1, 2017.)

Instructions for doctoral candidates on transferring to new degree structure (more detailed information can be found on Flamma).

Old reguirements

If you study by the old degree system ( 60 cr) you can find more information about requirements from Flamma

Students in the new degree system (40 cr)

This form can be used for the registration of study modules for doctoral students who are completing their degree according to the new degree structures (40 ECTS).

Students in the old degree system (60 cr)

The form of 60 credits study block is used to register the study modules completed for the doctoral degree according to the previous study requirements (min. 60 credits). Fill in the form with the studies you want to incorporate to your doctoral degree and give them to your responsible professor or responsible person of your studies. He/she revises and accepts the study modules.

The signed form is submitted to 

University guidelines in supervision, annual report and thesis committee.

See DPDR guideline (.pdf, to be updated) for details:

DPDR does not require compilation of thesis committee (=follow-up group) and annual meetings of those candidates who have registered to pursue doctoral degree before 31.8.2014. For others it is obligatory.

The external members should be sufficiently independent of the supervisor and the doctoral candidate, able to provide critical comments on the research project, doctoral studies and support for career development.

Thesis committee external member:
- does not have joint research projects with the doctoral candidate or close collaboration with supervisor within the last three years
- is not the employer or the employee or a family member of the supervisor or the doctoral candidate

Note update to DPDR guideline: at least one of the thesis committee members shall not be in the same faculty as the corresponding research group.

The Thesis Committee Meeting form must be filled online during/ right after the meeting and approved by all participants (a copy of the form is automatically sent to the Thesis Committee members replacing the need for signatures). It is highly recommended to be familiar with the form in good advance before the meeting

Follow-up of the thesis project in THESSA only for for Doctoral candidates who have received the right to pursue doctoral degree in July 2018 or later

WHY THESSA During 2018 all doctoral programmes at the University of Helsinki will start implementing Rector’s decision 801/2017. In practice this means that doctoral candidates who receive the right to pursue a doctoral degree in one of the DSHealth doctoral programmes in July 2018 or later are required to use THESSA (, an online tool used for planning and following up PhD studies . THESSA can be accessed with University of Helsinki login credentials or with the non-university login for those coming from outside UH. THESSA is easy to use and will not require much time to set up. Log in to the system and check the Help-page first for instructions. Before registering, contact your supervisor and the thesis committee members and let them know the instructions. This way they can expect receiving email notifications from THESSA. Please note that THESSA sends automatic email notifications that may end up in the junk mail folder. 

First task of a new doctoral candidate is to draw up a personal study plan. A doctoral candidate and his/her supervisor may sign a supervision agreement, which will be mandatory for all doctoral candidates from August 2020 onwards. The personal study plan and the supervision agreement are made electronically in the THESSA-system for doctoral candidates and thesis supervisors.


1. Supervision plans

The supervision plan is a set of decisions made face-to-face between the doctoral candidate and the supervisor(s) to make sure that the progress of the thesis project is as smooth as possible. The plan is created with the supervisor's account and the doctoral candidate (and the potential other supervisors) sign the plan.

2. PhD project

The PhD project is a place for doctoral candidates to plan the thesis project's parts and keep track of progress. The parts include for example publications, courses and funding. These can be stored in THESSA and accessed by the supervisors. A benefit of keeping track of the progress is that it reduces the load of writing the annual report as most of the content can automatically be copied from the PhD project to the report.

3. Annual reports

THESSA asks doctoral candidates to complete a report of their PhD project's progress at least once a year during the doctoral studies. The report is a snapshot of the current progress and that's why most of it can be automatically copied from the PhD project. There are however some additional fields that the doctoral candidate needs to complete. After submitting, all supervisors will be notified of the new report. One supervisor then reviews the report and either accepts it as it is or leaves review comments. The doctoral candidate gets a notification about review comments and is required to resubmit the report. Finally, the supervisor(s) accept the report. THESSA sends out reminder emails about reporting deadlines. The report's deadline is one year after the later date of either the last report or the beginning of doctoral studies.


1. The supervisor signs in to THESSA at (also available for supervisors outside the University of Helsinki)

2. The doctoral candidate signs in THESSA at

3. The doctoral programme admin approves the doctoral candidates THESSA-account

4. The supervisor receives an email from to verify the doctoral candidate’s account

NOTE! THESSA requires that the doctoral candidate has at least one supervisor at all times. The doctoral candidate will need to find and choose the supervisor(s) in THESSA. Supervisors cannot choose doctoral candidates. In this way THESSA protects unauthorized access to the doctoral candidate's information: doctoral candidates are themselves the gatekeepers. Information about the supervisory arrangements can later be edited at the Profile page. After signing in and when the doctoral programme has approved the account, the doctoral candidate can start using the “My PhD project” section in THESSA


1. The doctoral candidate invites the thesis committee members in to sign in to THESSA during the first semester of doctoral studies

2. The members receive an email from to join the thesis committee

3. Once the thesis committee is set up, the annual progress report can be generated and submitted

4. The thesis committee members can view and comment the progress report in THESSA before the meeting

5. The thesis committee meeting approves the annual progress report

6. At the end of the meeting, the doctoral candidate submits the Conclusions & Recommendations as agreed

7. One year later, THESSA reminds the doctoral candidate to organize the next thesis committee meeting


Board members 2018-2021:

Associate Professor (Tenure track) Heldér A. Santos, Director (Faculty of Pharmacy)

Professor Janne Backman (Faculty of Medicine)

Academy Research Fellow Mikko Airavaara (Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki)

Researcher Heidi Kidron (Faculty of Pharmacy)

Academy Research Fellow Päivi Tammela (Faculty of Pharmacy)

Tenure track Professor Clare Strachan (Faculty of Pharmacy)

University lecturer Erik Wallén (Faculty of Pharmacy)

Doctoral candidate representative Iiro Kiiski

Doctoral candidate representative Katrina Albert


The University of Helsinki PhD Students (HYVÄT) is an association for all doctoral candidates at the University of Helsinki. The goal is to advocate the interests of doctoral students and to function as a liaison between doctoral students and the University of Helsinki.