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 Department of Clinical Neuroscience and the research team of Pete Williams offers an exciting opportunity for a PhD Student in the field of translational neurobiology. The overall goal of the Pete Williams Lab is to develop clinically translational neuroprotective strategies for neurodegenerative disease focusing on neuronal metabolic and mitochondrial health. One current focus is the common neurodegeneration glaucoma.

The Pete Williams Lab is situated at St Erik Eye Hospital, Stockholm, and the doctoral student will have the chance to interact and work in an international environment with multidisciplinary basic research scientists, clinicians, and research clinicians. The student will be co-supervised by Assistant Professor James Tribble; an expert on animal models of neurodegeneration, and Associate Professor Peter Swoboda; an expert in C. elegans neurobiology.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

The Pete Williams lab has previously discovered metabolic dysfunction and mitochondrial abnormalities occurring prior to neurodegeneration in glaucoma (in glaucoma patients and animal models). These studies identified that NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide; an essential REDOX cofactor and metabolite) declines in the retina in an age-dependent manner and renders retinal ganglion cells susceptible to glaucoma-related stresses, driving neurodegeneration. Preventing NAD depletion via administration of nicotinamide (the amide of vitamin B3; an NAD precursor) or through gene therapy (targeting terminal enzymes for NAD production) provides a robust neuroprotection. We are now developing novel small molecules to target these enzymes, drive NAD production, and provide neuroprotection.

Developing novel small molecule compounds that increase NAD production will show genuine promise for targeted treatments for glaucoma and other neurodegenerations and give novel insight into the role of NAD in neurodegeneration.

Primary goals: The goal of this doctoral training program is to develop assays and to test novel NAD-generating compounds to prevent axon degeneration and mitochondrial dysfunction. Specifically, the student will:

(1) Establish a platform for neurodegeneration research using the model organism C. elegans,

(2) Develop axon degenerative and mitochondrial assays in C. elegans with relevance to sensory neuroscience research,

(3) Test and further refine novel NAD-generating small molecules to protect from mitochondrial dysfunction and axon degeneration.

The doctoral student will be the lead scientist in these projects with close supervision and training by the supervisors and members of their labs. The studies outlined will allow the student to advance their basic molecular biology knowledge to more modern and complex genetic manipulation and testing. The Williams lab is expert in identifying neurodegenerative processes and utilizing –omics analysis, and the Swoboda lab is expert in manipulating mitochondrial and neuronal pathways in C. elegans. Furthermore, this is an ideal opportunity for the doctoral student to work with larger datasets and gain practical transferable skills (e.g. statistics, R programming) to help in their transition to independence and future job prospects

We are looking to recruit a full-time student.

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

We are looking for an ambitious candidate with enthusiasm for translational neurobiology. The successful candidate must meet the KI requirements for doctoral education, with a strong background in biomedical science, chemistry, neurobiology, computer science, or pharmacology, with relevant wet-lab experience.

Additional wet-lab knowledge specific to this project would be highly advantageous. Specifically, previous practical experience with C. elegans maintenance and use, molecular biology techniques, mitochondria/metabolism techniques and assays, computational biology/neuroscience, and/or drug testing are considerable substantial merits. 

We will start the selection process after the last application day.

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.

Read more about Pete Williams

Read more about Pete Williams Lab

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

Type of employment PhD placement
Contract type Full time
First day of employment According to agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Stockholm
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number STÖD 2-5317/2021
  • Pete Williams, Research group leader,
  • Anna Wendel, HR-Partner,
Union representative
  • Venus Azhary, OFR, 0707-124 127
  • Arsalan Amir, SACO, 08 - 517 733 37
  • Henry Wölling, SEKO,
Published 06.Dec.2021
Last application date 23.Jan.2022 11:59 PM CET

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