PhD fellowship in Pre-clinical Medicine at the Department of Experimental Medicine (AEM)

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: 02 Aug 2020

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

University of Copenhagen

We are offering a PhD fellowship in pre-clinical medicine/meta-analysis from October 1st, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Our group and research

The Department of Experimental Medicine researches animal model development, with a particular focus on optimizing animal welfare, on the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) of animal experimentation, and on strengthening the validity of animal models as research tools in biomedical science.

Project description

One of the greatest problems with present-day biomedical research is irreproducible results. Frequently, the results from a study conducted in mice in one laboratory cannot be reproduced using the same strain of mice in another laboratory. The implication, when results fail to replicate, is that the original findings were unreliable, or simply incorrect. Replicating studies takes time, however. In the meanwhile, therapies and drugs may be developed based on the original findings; drugs and therapies that will invariably turn out to be ineffective. In addition to the societal costs of failed investments in medicine and patients waiting in vain for therapies that were not effective in the first place, irreproducible findings are a major source of waste with respect to (laboratory) animal lives.

Neuroscience is the medical field that generates the most studies that cannot be successfully replicated. Laboratory animal studies in neuroscience often rely on testing behavior – rats running mazes to test memory, mice pressing levers in Skinner boxes to test motivation, etc. The irreproducible results in neuroscience can often be traced back to these behavioral tests. Some of the tests are half a century old, the theory behind them is murky, and some are associated with animal suffering.

The present PhD project is built around the idea that demonstrating the shortcomings and flaws of traditional behavior-based methods used in neurobiological models in preclinical medicine can stimulate a move towards validation of new models that have greater translational potential. Rather than doing this by setting up lengthy experiments that induce suffering in the mouse/rat subjects, we aim to compile data from existing literature for much stronger evidence. There is already ample evidence, it just needs to be compiled and analyzed.

The project will, consequently, take the form of in-depth meta-analytical investigation of the published literature tied to a subset of the behavioral tests used in neuroscience. Of particular interest is the reproducibility of findings, and the lack thereof. When are experiments repeatable? When are they not? And what does that tell us of the methods employed. We will also focus on the positive spin found in the published journal articles. How biased is the record? Are only the positive results published? Finally, the quality of the published data will be critically judged. Which findings do we trust? Which ones don’t we trust? And why?

We expect the PhD candidate to be instrumental in scoping the studies, choosing the models and tests to be investigated. We are equally interested in the perspective that a prospective candidate brings to this project. Given the cross-disciplinary nature of the project, a particular emphasis is placed on the candidate having an open, curious, and detective-like mindset. 

Principal supervisor is Professor Jann Hau, Department of Experimental Medicine

Start: October 1st, or as soon as possible thereafter

Duration: 3 years as a PhD student

Job description

Your key tasks as a PhD student at SUND are:

  •  Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  •  Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
  •  Participate in active research environments including a stay at another research team
  •  Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  •  Teach and disseminate your knowledge
  •  Write 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., medicine/biomedicine, pharmacology, neurobiology, experimental (/comparative) psychology, biostatistics, or the veterinary sciences. Having worked previously with behavioral testing gives the candidate a leg up on the project. Furthermore, an interest in animal welfare and open science is greatly premiered.

Other important criteria are:

  •  Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  •  Previous publications
  •  Relevant work experience
  •  Other relevant professional activities
  •  Language skills
  •  Computer and software skills 

Place of employment

The place of employment is at the Department of Experimental Medicine (“Afdeling for Eksperimentel Medicin” – AEM), Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. Our research facilities include modern laboratories and state-of-the-art laboratory animal facilities.

Terms of employment The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years.

It 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 (2019) 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 begins around 27,593 DKK /approx. 3,703 EUR (April 2018-level) plus pension. 


For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the project co-supervisor:

Assistant professor Otto Kalliokoski Inquiries by e-mail:

General information about PhD study 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. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position

3. Master of Science diploma and transcript of records. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do

4. Publication list (if available)

Application deadline: August 2nd, 2020, 23.59 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 can read about the recruitment process at

The applicant 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 week 34.

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7500 students, 1500 PhD students and 3200 employees. The Faculty advances the field of health sciences through its core activities: research, teaching, knowledge sharing and communication. With basic research fields ranging from molecular studies to studies of society, the Faculty contributes to a healthy future through its graduates, research findings and inventions benefitting patients and the community. 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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