Doctoral (PhD) student position in Integrative Physiology/Immunology and metabolism

Updated: about 1 month ago

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 Integrative Physiology research group focuses on mechanisms underlying metabolic disorders with particular, but not exclusive, focus on insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. Using novel methodology developed in the group to incubate and analyse human skeletal muscle samples ex-vivo, we were the first to demonstrate defects in insulin stimulation of intracellular signalling molecules in patients with insulin resistant type 2 diabetes mellitus. The effects of exercise and muscle contraction in regulation of insulin sensitivity both whole body and in muscle is also a key area of investigation, as are effects of skeletal muscle immobility and/or denervation. Clinical investigations in, parallel with primary human skeletal muscle cultures, where skeletal muscle cells are grown in vitro from patient biopsies, and model organisms are used to approach metabolic disease from a multidisciplinary angle in order to address gene and protein regulation, cell physiology and whole body metabolism.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are associated with chronic activation of the immune system. Inappropriate inflammatory responses and the accumulation of immune cells in metabolic tissues contributes to the development of insulin resistance and the cardiometabolic complications associated with type 2 diabetes. Skeletal muscle is the major contributor to post-prandial regulation of glucose levels and therefore a key player in the development of type 2 diabetes. However, inflammatory responses affecting muscle metabolic responses are poorly characterized. 

Small molecules derived from arachidonic acid play important roles in inflammatory responses, and several eicosanoids are increased by exercise. We recently discovered that eicosanoid receptors are expressed in skeletal muscle cells and our preliminary results suggest that activation of those receptors in skeletal muscle cells alters glucose metabolism. Altogether, these data suggest a role of eicosanoid signaling in skeletal muscle immunometabolic responses, but this has to date not been investigated.

Overall aim

The present PhD project focuses on the effects of eicosanoid signaling on insulin responses and inflammation in skeletal muscle. And will include the following projects:

  • Identification of eicosanoid-mediated pathways regulating the metabolic responses. Using transcriptomics, phosphoproteomics and literature review, the PhD student will identify eicosanoids involved in metabolic responses. A background in bioinformatics is an advantage.
  • Metabolic characterization of eicosanoid signalling in human skeletal muscle. Using primary skeletal muscle cell cultures, the PhD student will measure glucose uptake, substrate oxidation and metabolic pathway activation in response eicosanoids.
  • Selective targeting of skeletal muscle eicosanoid signalling. Selectively targeting of muscle with agonists in vivo may be challenging. We therefore propose to determine the specific binding partners of the receptors of interest in skeletal muscle compared to other tissues. Identification of co-receptors specific to skeletal muscle could provide with unique ways to selectively target skeletal muscle metabolism in vivo.

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:

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

    (A) and (B)can only be certified by the documentation requirement for doctoral education .

    Skills and personal qualities
    • Ability to contribute ideas for new research projects.
    • Ability to work with meticulous attention to detail.
    • An enthusiastic interest in diabetes research.
    • Evidence of excellent interpersonal skills, with the ability to communicate research ideas and results in a clear and logical way and the ability to confidently and effectively interact with colleagues and the broader research community.
    • Strong verbal and written communication skills in English.
    • A conscientious and enthusiastic working approach.
    • Excellent planning, organizational and problem-solving skills.
    • A background in bioinformatics, particularly R programming is a plus.
    • Skills in cell culture and quantitative RT PCR is an advantage.

    Terms and conditions

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

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    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. We prefer that your application is written in English, but you can also apply in Swedish.

    Your application must contain the following documents:

    - A personal letter and a curriculum vitae
    - Degree projects and previous publications, if any
    - Any other documentation showing the desirable skills and personal qualities described above
    - 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.

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