PhD fellowship in Medical Science and Technology Studies at the Department of Public Health

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: 13 Feb 2022

We are offering a PhD fellowship in Medical Science and Technology Studiescommencing 1 May 2022 or as soon as possible hereafter.

Our group and research
This PhD position is placed within reNEW – the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine. reNEW is a high-profile consortium of world-leading stem cell scientists collaborating to promote effective, safe and socially robust stem cell-based therapies. There are three participating partner nodes, namely University of Copenhagen (in Denmark), Leiden University (in the Netherlands) and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (in Melbourne, Australia). This position is placed in Copenhagen, but will collaborate with the other nodes within reNEW, as part of the PREPARE cluster of activities that will combine ethical, economic, societal, and STS approaches to facilitate a socially robust delivery of stem cell outcomes to the community.

The position is locally situated within the Centre for Medical Science and Technology Studies (MeST) in the Department of Public Health. MeST is a research center with approximately 35 researchers working with STS and medical humanities questions, as well as developing public engagement activities. It provides a stimulating and cross-disciplinary environment for understanding the social dynamics of research and clinical practice, drawing upon a wide range of methods.

Project description
Stem cell medicines are complex products, many of which are yet to, or have failed to, reach market. The pluripotent stem cell field has long faced ethical questions, not least in relation to the derivation of pluripotent stem cell lines from embryos. The capacity to now recreate models of the early human embryo, and even germ cells themselves, raises more questions about the receptiveness of communities to such approaches.
Furthermore, striking advances in gene and cell therapies have coincided with a burgeoning commercial marketplace selling unproven therapies. This has blurred fact and fiction, making it difficult for patients to make an informed choice about treatment options. This PhD position aims to collaborate with other social scientists, ethicists, and economists, and interact closely with the stem cell researchers to understand the science and elucidate ethical and social challenges.

The specific project
The PhD is specifically aimed at understanding the dynamics of hope and despair, trust and mistrust, related to patients contemplating stem cell treatments. Stem cell research can be considered a case of prolonged promises, having been on the brink of major breakthroughs for approximately 20 years. It means that for years patients have attached hope to stem cell treatments, when all other treatment options were exhausted. Many have, for example, contacted the prominent researchers now affiliated with reNEW, and many have tried out unproven and sometimes fraudulent treatments via so-called stem cell tourism. In the early years, STS scholars and medical ethicists paid great attention to these dynamics of legitimacy and trust, but gradually the interest of the social sciences and humanities dwindled. The laboratory research has continued, however, and now enters a new phase of clinical translation.

With this project, we wish the PhD candidate to suggest a way to explore these dynamics of hope and despair, trust and mistrust, in the context of stem cell therapies. The PhD candidate may, for example, figure out how patient trajectories have evolved over time, and where patients contemplating unproven treatments seek information, where they go, and where they discuss their experiences. What might the health services learn from the patients who decided not to accept the clinical messages they received? And which methods should we use to locate and gather stories of hope and disappointment? We are open for applications suggesting different angles and using different methods but expect to see articulation of a clear curiosity and some good ideas about how to potentially pursue it.

The PhD candidate will collaborate closely with a postdoc also employed on the project at the Copenhagen node and senior researchers across the three national nodes, investigating complementary questions and shared themes.

Principal supervisor is Professor Klaus Hoeyer, Department of Public Health, E-mail: , Direct Phone: +45 3532 7996, and potential co-supervisors are Megan Munsie and Louise Emma Whiteley

Start:                  1 May 2022

Duration:          3 years as a PhD student

Job description
Your key tasks as a PhD student at SUND are:

  • Carrying through an independent research project under supervision.
  • Completing PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approximately 30 ECTS points.
  • Participating in active research environments including a stay at another research team.
  • Obtaining experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Writing a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project.

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants
Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree related to the subject area of the project, e.g. STS, public health science, anthropology, sociology or related fields. Please note that your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (two years).

Other important criteria are:

  • The grade point average achieved
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Previous publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other professional activities
  • A curious mind-set with a strong interest in conditions of the public legitimacy of stem cell science
  • Language skills: Fluent academic English a prerequisite. Danish an advantage.

Place of employment
The place of employment is at the Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. We have a strong research environment for understanding the dynamics of medical research and the health services and the PhD project is part of consortium for stem cell research operating at the international forefront of translational research.

Terms of employment
The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years.
The employment is conditioned upon the applicant’s success­ful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree.

Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agree­ment between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary starts at approximately 27,800 DKK/Roughly 3,700 EUR (October 2021 level) plus pension.

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

General information about PhD studies at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website:

Application procedure
Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format: 

1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)

2. Short outline of how you wish to approach the topic (max. two pages)

3. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position

4. Certified copy of original Master of Science diploma and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in other language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted. As a prerequisite for a PhD fellowship employment, your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree. We encourage you to read more in the assessment database: Please note that we might ask you to obtain an assessment of your education performed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science

5. Publication list (if possible)

Application deadline: 13 February 2022, 23.59pm CET
We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.
The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.
Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

You find information about the recruitment process at:

The applicants will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

Interviews are expected to be held in late February/early March.

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. 

Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.

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