Do you want to contribute to top quality medical research?
To be a doctoral student means to devote oneself to a research project under supervision of experienced researchers and following an individual study plan. For a doctoral degree, the equivalent of four years of full-time doctoral education is required.

The Department of Laboratory Medicine
The Department of Laboratory Medicine consists of 7 divisions and is active in many areas of Laboratory Medicine. The department is involved in advanced basic scientific, clinical and epidemiological research. The department is one of the largest departments of education at Karolinska Institutet.

The Division of Clinical Microbiology
At the department of Clinical Microbiology, disease processes in cells and tissues caused by microbes infecting humans are studied. The research is translational with focus on problems identified in clinical care and on the development of improved diagnostics and therapeutic approaches. The research spans from molecular virology, virus-cell interactions and the understanding of individual viral genes and proteins, to the effects these have on the infected patient. Within bacteriology, the effects of antibiotics on the gut microbiota are studied as well as the interaction between bacteria and protozoa.

The research group
We study the role of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in human immunity. AMPs are expressed in mucosal tissues and by immune cells. They constitute important effector molecules in the innate immune system. AMPs have potent antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses and fungi. In addition, AMPs function as "alarmins", i.e they activate and recruit cells from the adaptive immune system to the site of infection. AMP expression is tightly regulated but recent knowledge has revealed that substances such as vitamin D and phenylbutyrate (PBA) can induce AMP-expression in mucosal tissues and immune-cells.

Our aim is to translate basic findings on AMP-expression and regulation into clinical practice. We work with a concept named “Host Directed Therapy”, which involves activation or induction of antimicrobial peptides by using small molecular compounds, such as vitamin D and Phenylbutyrate (PBA). Our aim is to identify novel and more potent inducers of AMP expression. In addition, we work with mechanistic studies on human tissues and cells but also perform clinical trials, where inducers of AMP-expression are investigated in humans.

Recently, we showed that vitamin D and PBA could activate autophagy in human macrophages, a process that is necessary to inhibit intracellular growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). We could further show that autophagy and the control of Mtb-growth was depending on the human antimicrobial peptide LL-37.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student
In the planned PhD-project we want to expand on previous findings in our laboratory and study how stress affects the innate immune-system, including AMP-expression, autophagy and susceptibility to infections.

We aim to study - 

1) how chronic stress impacts autophagy, premature cellular aging and AMP-expression,
2) how chronic stress can lead to reduced killing of intracellular bacteria and viruses and
3) we will study the molecular mechanism of how novel drug-like compounds developed by us can restore the activity of autophagy and mediate intracellular killing of bacteria in stressed cells.

The studies will involve clinical samples, in vitro systems using human primary cells and cell-lines as well as a model system for chronic stress in zebrafish.

We are now seeking a doctoral student who will work on the project entitled “Activation of Autophagy as a Novel Treatment against Bacterial and Viral Infections”.

For this project, we are looking for a PhD student who shares our passion for microbiology, immunology and biochemistry, and who is ready to join our collaborative team, and is highly motivated to perform molecular and cellular, ex-vivo and in-vivo work.

Project duties
The project duties will include- but are not limited to;

• Work with human cell-lines and primary cells from patients

• Growing and counting bacteria and viruses

• Gene-expression analysis with qPCR

• Protein-analysis with Western blot analysis

• RNA sequencing and subsequent bioinformatic analysis

• Working with a zebra-fish model

As a PhD student in our team, you will:

• Be actively involved in all stages of the project planning,

• Carry out microbiological, immunological and biochemical techniques as well as performing data analysis, interpretation and dissemination of results

• Carry out different experimental approaches including, but not limited to, cell-work, handling patient-samples and working with zebrafish

• Gain the ability to present, write and discuss research in an international context

• Develop comprehensive knowledge in the fields of microbiology and immunology

• Work in close collaboration with scientists and physicians in the fields of microbiology, molecular biology, immunology and bioinformatics who will provide constant support and training

• Develop strong communication and collaborative skills

What do we offer?
A creative and inspiring environment full of expertise and curiosity. Karolinska Institutet is one of the world's leading medical universities. Our vision is to pursue the development of knowledge about life and to promote a better health for all. At Karolinska Institutet, we conduct successful medical research and hold the largest range of medical education in Sweden.

As a doctoral student you are offered an individual research project, a well-educated supervisor, a vast range of elective courses and the opportunity to work in a leading research group. Karolinska Institutet collaborates with prominent universities from all around the world, which ensures opportunities for international exchanges. You will be employed on a doctoral studentship which means that you receive a contractual salary. Employees also have access to our modern gym for free and receive reimbursements for medical care.

Eligibility requirements for doctoral education
In order to participate in the selection for a doctoral position, you must meet the following general (A) and specific (B) eligibility requirements at latest by the application deadline.

It is your responsibility to certify eligibility by following the instructions on the web page; Entry requirements (eligibility) for doctoral education. (see below)

A) General eligibility requirement

You meet the general eligibility requirement for doctoral/third-cycle/PhD education if you:

1. have been awarded a second-cycle/advanced/master qualification (i.e. master degree) or

2. have satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the advanced/second-cycle/master level, or

3. have acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.*

Follow the instructions on the web page;

*If you claim equivalent knowledge, follow the instructions on the web page;

B) Specific eligibility requirement

You meet the specific eligibility requirement for doctoral/third-cycle/PhD education if you:

- Show proficiency in English equivalent to the course English B/English 6 at Swedish upper secondary school.

Follow the instructions on the web page;

Verification of your documents
Karolinska Institutet checks the authenticity of your documents. Karolinska Institutet reserves the right to revoke admission if supporting documents are discovered to be fraudulent. Submission of false documents is a violation of Swedish law and is considered grounds for legal action.

Skills and personal qualities
It is advantageous if the applicant has a theoretical knowledge of microbiology, immunology and biochemistry and also demonstrates a familiarity with the research methodologies in general.

We are seeking an individual who have excellent communication skills in spoken and written English and who can demonstrate a good ability to translate and communicate results and who also have good interpersonal skills and an ability to work both independently but also as part of a team.

Previous work with the zebrafish-model is an advantage but not a requirement.

Terms and conditions
The doctoral student will be employed on a doctoral studentship maximum 4 years full-time. You will be employed on a doctoral studentship which means that you receive a contractual salary.

Application process
Submit your application and supporting documents through the Varbi recruitment system. Use the button in the top right corner and follow the instructions.

Your application should contain the following documents:

- A personal letter and a curriculum vitae (Swedish or English)
- Degree projects and previous publications, if any (Swedish or English)
- Any other documentation showing the desirable skills and personal qualities described above (Swedish or English)
- Documents certifying your general eligibility (see A above)
- Documents certifying your specific eligibility (see B above)

A selection will be made among eligible applicants on the basis of the ability to benefit from doctoral education. The qualifications of the applicants will be evaluated on an overall basis.

Karolinska Institutet uses the following bases of assessment:

- Documented subject knowledge of relevance to the area of research
- Analytical skill
- Other documented knowledge or experience that may be relevant to doctoral studies in the subject.

All applicants will be informed when the recruitment is completed.

Location: Flemingsberg, KI South

Relevant links

Type of employment PhD placement
Contract type Full time
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100%
City Huddinge
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number 2-804/2020
  • Peter Bergman, ,
Union representative
  • Carina Eklund, OFR, 08-585 826 65
  • Emilie Hultin, Annica Lindkvist, SACO, 08-524 832 86, 08-524 837 46
  • Henry Wölling, SEKO, 08-524 840 80
Published 21.Feb.2020
Last application date 13.Mar.2020 11:59 PM CET

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