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 research group
The Department of Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB) is a department with a strong focus on basic science. CMB conducts research and education in cell biology, molecular biology, developmental biology, stem cell biology, cancer and infection biology. CMB is located in Biomedicum, a new interdisciplinary research center designed to concentrate much of the experimental research conducted at Karolinska Institutet Campus Solna under one roof to promote collaboration. Biomedicum houses approximately 1,200 researchers and other personnel and allow expensive equipment to be shared and utilised more effectively.

The main interests of the Spalding research group are to investigate properties of human adipose tissue, with particular attention to human adipocyte biology. We investigate basic cellular functions, such as adipocyte lipid and cell turnover, adipocyte response to obesity and hyperinsulinemia and cellular heterogeneity in human adipose tissue depots. Understanding the cell biology and heterogeneity of adipocytes in human adipose tissue, with the ultimate aim of understanding their contributions to health and pathology, is a major focus of the group.

The Spalding group has established strong clinical collaborations within Sweden and abroad, ensuring high quality access to human adipose tissue. All necessary platforms, such as FACS, single cell sequencing, microscopy etc. are available.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student
White adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT) are the two most common forms of adipose tissue in humans. It was previously believed that adult humans had very little (if any) brown fat, however, recently it has been established that BAT exists in significant quantities in adult humans. Clusters of brown adipocytes, so-called brown-like ‘brite’ or ‘beige’ adipocytes, have been reported in WAT in rodents and humans. Under basal conditions brite adipocytes resemble white adipocytes, with a single large lipid droplet, however following cold exposure or beta 3-adrenoreceptor stimulation these cells can acquire a BAT phenotype. These brite adipocytes have an opposite function to neighbouring white adipocytes, producing heat and burning energy, rather than storing energy in the form of lipid. The discovery that brite and brown adipose tissue is present in adult humans opens up exciting new possibilities for the treatment of obesity. The activation and recruitment of brown adipocytes might be a potent therapy to mediate weight loss. Studies in animals show that browning of WAT associates with a decrease in body weight, increase in energy expenditure and improved glucose tolerance, leading to much interest in identifying agents that can ‘brown’ white fat. Despite increasing interest to exploit the function of this tissue, many fundamental questions concerning the distribution, prevalence and induction of brown and brite fat in humans remain unanswered.

The PhD project will create a map of brown fat distribution in humans and investigate the browning potential of human white adipocytes. The student will be exposed to stereological and statistical techniques and be required to work with human adipose tissue samples to perform adipocyte cell culture, immuno- histo/cytochemistry, flow cytometry, confocal microscopy and other molecular biology techniques. Protein (mesoscale and western blot) and RNA (single cell and bulk sequencing) analyses will also be performed.

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.

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 seek a student with a background in molecular biology, biomedicine or the equivalent. The candidate should have a good team spirit, be self-motivated and a keen interest in human adipose tissue biology. Experience in working with molecular biology techniques, confocal microscopy, FACS, and the isolation and culture of primary cells are a strong plus. A solid background in statistics is also an advantage. The student is required to have good communication skills in English (written and verbal).

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

Type of employment PhD placement
Contract type Full time
Reference number 2-1932/2020
  • Dr. Kirsty Spalding,
Union representative
  • Magnus Anå, OFR, 08-524 864 37,
  • Elisabeth Valenzuela, SEKO, 08-524 863 53
Published 29.Apr.2020
Last application date 02.Jun.2020 11:59 PM CET

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