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 Division of Infectious Diseases performs research and education in close collaboration with the Karolinska University Hospital. The research teams address a wide range of infectious diseases using clinical, epidemiological and experimental approaches.

The Sundling Research Team focuses on understanding how immune responses are generated to different pathogens. This is done at both a basic mechanistic level, but also at a more applied level where the aim is to identify biomarkers for improved diagnostics or as potential treatment alternatives. We use a wide array of methods, including in vitro and ex vivo experiments to understand mechanistic processes, and also generation of large datasets that require bioinformatics processing and analysis. The studies are based on well characterized cohorts recruited in Sweden and via collaborators.

The research group is based at the new research laboratories at BioClinicum on the Karolinska University Hospital site in Solna. The experimental environment is located in close proximity to the clinic.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

Infectious diseases are a major source of global mortality and morbidity. Although vaccines are highly efficacious in controlling the spread of certain diseases, some pathogens, such as HIV-1, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Plasmodium falciparum malaria have been shown to be highly difficult to develop efficacious vaccines against. An important effect of most vaccines is the generation of antigen-specific B cells that produce neutralising antibodies. In this project the aim is to investigate a recently described B cell subset called Atypical B cells that is abundantly generated in diseases characterised by recurrent infection or prolonged inflammation, such as malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and HIV. The origin and function of the atypical B cells remain unclear. To determine what role these cells have in the immune system, it will be important to resolve how and why these cells are generated and what function they have in vivo.

To investigate the different aspects of atypical B cells, the PhD student will evaluate the generation, heterogeneity, and function of atypical B cells in different types of infections from clinical cohorts and in mouse models. The work will include both experimental laboratory work and bioinformatics analysis. The work on human clinical samples will be conducted at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden while the work in mice will be conducted in the laboratory of Prof. Robert Brink at the Garvan Institute, Sydney, Australia.

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.

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

Skills and personal qualities

The candidate must hold a master of science (MSc) or equivalent in a related field. It is highly meriting if the applicant has previous knowledge and practical experience in different immunological techniques and of working with mice and or cell culture. It is further advantageous if the candidate has experience with bioinformatics analysis in R (especially of transcriptomic data) and flow cytometry.

The group is seeking a highly motivated and ambitious PhD student. The candidate is expected to be organized and able to work independently. The project is pursued in an interdisciplinary environment with collaboration with several research groups, and good collaborative skills is a requirement. Fluency in English is mandatory.

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.


The Department of Medicine, Solna, consists of twelve divisions and each division consists of several research groups. The position is located within the research group of Professor Anna Färnert and the research team of Assistant professor Christopher Sundling at the Division of Infectious Diseases.

research group

Want to make a difference? Join us and contribute to better health for all

Type of employment PhD placement
Contract type Full time
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100
City Solna
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number STÖD 2-1493/2021
  • Christopher Sundling, assistant professor, +46 70 323 32 46
Union representative
  • Afsar Rahbar OFR,
  • Louisa Cheung, SACO,
Published 23.Mar.2021
Last application date 12.Apr.2021 11:59 PM CET

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