Do you want to contribute to top quality medical research?

Research groups at the Department of Neuroscience study different aspects of the function of the normal nervous system, as well as disturbances, injuries and diseases affecting the nervous system. Projects include a broad range of studies at the molecular and cellular levels, the network level and at the level of the overall organization of the brain and spinal cord. The department also conducts undergraduate education in neuroscience, anatomy and histology in a number of programs at Karolinska Institutet. To read more about our department, please visit our webpage;

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 research group
Cognition encompasses a range of mental abilities, including perception, attention, working memory, planning and decision making. Proper cognitive functions are thus essential for many aspects of our everyday life but little is known about how the brain's networks encode and enable cognition. Cortical functioning, and particularly the functions of the prefrontal cortex are considered central to cognition. Utilizing a systems neuroscience approach the lab of Marie Carlén studies the cortex and cortical computations. With electrophysiological in vivo recordings, optogenetic manipulations and real-time imaging in behaving mice and rats the lab investigates the contribution of specific neuronal subtypes to cognitive functions. The lab is recognized for its discoveries on inhibitory interneurons, and their role in cortical oscillations, cognition and behavior. The lab has also contributed to the development of transsynaptic viral tools for circuit tracing and computational frameworks for whole-brain mapping and anatomical annotation of structural components of circuitry.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student
The PhD position is part of the project “euSNN; European School of Network Neuroscience project”, funded under H2020-EU.1.3 – EXCELLENT SCIENCE – Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA-ITN-2019 - Innovative Training Networks). For more information, see:

The current project is entitled “Cognitive encoding in the prefrontal cortex” and is part of the Carlén lab’s effort to establish a functional map of the mouse prefrontal cortex and its subregions. We are particularly interested in elucidating how function(s) distributes within the frontal cortex, how interactions between the proposed subregions contribute to the integrative functions of the prefrontal cortex, and if there is an overarching function of the prefrontal cortex. The central experimental approach is (very) large-scale electrophysiological recordings (Neuropixels) in head-fixed behaving mice. A series of behavioral tasks engaging a set of defined cognitive processes will be employed. The circuitry and cell-type activities involved will be mapped, and investigated with optogenetics. The student will be involved in all aspects of the experimental work and also responsible for the animal colonies involved, post hoc analysis of the tissue and characterization of genetic and viral tools for circuit tracing and functional optogenetic experiments. An important part of the project regards the analysis of the electrophysiological data, including development of novel analysis. Within the scope of a doctoral studentship, the student may participate in teaching and other department duties up to 20%.

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.

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 Entry requirements (eligibility) for doctoral education.

*If you claim equivalent knowledge, follow the instructions on the web page Assessing equivalent knowledge for general eligibility for doctoral education.

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 English language requirements for doctoral education.

As this is a position within the MSCA-ITN-2019 - Innovative Training Networks, specific eligibility requirements apply. See for details. Specifically, “researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary (in this case Sweden) for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date.”

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
We are seeking a highly motivated and creative person with a deep interest in understanding the brain and with proven experience in the field of neuroscience, preferentially systems neuroscience. The work in the Carlén lab is highly collaborative and we are looking to add a team player enjoying interacting closely with colleagues in the research group.

Required: Education and relevant background in neuroscience with knowledge of neuroanatomy, electrophysiology and practical experience of animal behavior, preferentially in relation to cognitive processing.

Desirable: practical experience of /expertise in in vivo electrophysiology or calcium imaging and / or optogenetics.  Verified knowledge in and experience of programming, preferentially in connection to neuroscience.

Terms and conditions
The doctoral student will be employed on a doctoral studentship maximum 4 years full-time.

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 of a not more than 2 pages outlining why you find this scientific project of particular interest for your doctoral thesis, and a curriculum vitae (in English)
  • Degree projects and previous publications, if any (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. 

Want to make a difference? Join us and contribute to better health for all

Type of employment PhD placement
Contract type Full time
Reference number 2-1436/2020
  • Marie Carlén,
Union representative
  • Magnus Anå, OFR, 08-524 864 37,
  • Henry Wölling, SEKO, 08-524 840 80,
  • Björn Meister, SACO,
Published 19.Mar.2020
Last application date 16.Apr.2020 11:59 PM CEST

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