Doctoral (PhD) student position in neuroscience

Updated: about 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 31 Dec 2021

Do you want to contribute to better health for all?

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 position regards the lab of Marie Carlén, associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Campus Solna. Cognition encompasses a range of brain processes underlying our mental abilities and is a prerequisite for purposeful and goal-appropriate behavior. Proper cognitive processing is thus essential to many aspects of our everyday life, but little is known about how the brain's networks encode and enable behavior relying on 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 cellular logic of information processing in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The studies are mainly performed in behaving mice using large-scale electrophysiological recordings or calcium imaging of neuronal activity. Optogenetics and circuit tracing are other central technologies, as is slice electrophysiology. The lab is recognized for its discoveries on inhibitory interneurons expressing parvalbumin and their role in cortical oscillations, cognition, and behavior. For more information see:

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

The project regards the mechanisms by which the PFC controls behavior, with a specific focus on how the PFC shapes activities in the striatum. Neurons in cortex extensively target the striatum and the corticostriatal pathways are proposed to regulate the evaluation and selection of actions. Experiments in rodents have given direct evidence that acquisition of goal-direct actions require intact connectivity from the PFC to the dorsomedial striatum. However, the PFC-striatal pathway is poorly understood. A comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of prefrontal projection neurons targeting the striatum is lacking, including their molecular traits, spatial and laminar residency, global projection patterns, and their targeting of different striatal neurons and compartmentalizations. Furthermore, understanding of how the PFC-striatal pathway functionally shape behavior is lacking. The doctoral project addresses outstanding questions regarding PFC-striatal pathway as outlined above. For this, the hired student will conduct advanced circuit tracing, and registration (Neuropixels recordings and/or 2-photon imaging) of neuronal activity in behaving mice. Optogenetics will be used for elucidation of the function of specific neuronal populations. The student will be also responsible for the characterization of the genetic and viral tools in the project, as well as the animal colonies, and post hoc analysis of the tissue. An important part of the project involves analysis of single unit and LFP data and usage of computational frameworks for anatomical annotation and visualization of structural and functional components of brain circuitry and activity.

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:

    Have a master of science in neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, or equivalent.

    - 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

    We are seeking to recruit a highly motivated and creative lab member able to work both individually and as part of a team. Open and honest communication, and active contribution to the theoretical and practical work are expected and encouraged.

    Formal requirements: Education and practical experience in the field of basic neuroscience and of research in model animals, preferentially using technologies relevant to the current project. Desirable: practical experience of electrophysiology/calcium-imaging/optogenetics in living animals; intracranial injections and usage of viral strategies for targeting and interrogation of brain circuitry; behavioral studies in mammalian model animals. Animal work certification in accordance with current Swedish and/or European legislations. Proficiency in programming and documented experience of advanced data analysis is meriting.

    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. 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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