Do you want to contribute to improving human health?

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 groups

The laboratory of Professor Thomas Helleday and the research group of Assistant Professor Sean Rudd is seeking to recruit two highly motivated and enthusiastic doctoral (PhD) students for independent projects on improving treatments for inflammatory diseases and cancer, respectively. The Helleday and Rudd groups are affiliated with the Department of Oncology-Pathology at Karolinska Institutet and are co-located at SciLifeLab, a national centre for molecular biosciences containing state-of-the-art high-throughput technology platforms together with world-leading research labs.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

Project 1: OGG1 activators and inhibitors in control of inflammatory diseases

With Professor Thomas Helleday as principal supervisor, supported by Christina Kalderén, Team Leader Oliver Mortusewicz and Assistant Professor Maurice Michel in the co-supervision team, this project aims to understand both positive and negative small molecule modulation in DNA repair. In the past, we have developed OGG1 inhibitors and broadly studied the compounds from basic biochemistry and biology to first disease models (Visnes et al. 2018, Science; Visnes et al. 2020; NAR; Tanner et al. 2021, biorxiv). Currently, we are investigating small molecule activators of OGG1, as a novel technology to enhance oxidative DNA damage repair (Michel et al. 2022, unpublished). The prospective doctoral student will perform research to i) understand the precise mode of action of small molecule activators of OGG1, ii) unite research on inhibitors and activators to elucidate the molecular role of OGG1 in promoting transcription, and iii) use OGG1 inhibitors to evaluate therapeutic opportunities in a disease model of rheumatoid arthritis.

Project 2: Understanding and exploiting drug resistance in cancer – targeting SAMHD1

With Assistant Professor Sean Rudd as principal supervisor, supported by Professor Thomas Helleday and Dr Si Min Zhang in the co-supervisory team, this project seeks to understand and exploit drug resistance pathways in cancer cells. Central to this work is our previous research upon the enzyme SAMHD1 which we established as a targetable chemoresistance factor in acute myeloid leukaemia (Herold et al., 2017, Nat Med; Rudd et al., 2020, EMBO Mol Med). The doctoral student will build upon these findings and broadly aim to define and exploit this role of SAMHD1. This will entail, (i), the systematic characterisation of the interaction of SAMHD1 with nucleoside drugs, (ii) the development and benchmarking of small molecule SAMHD1 inhibitors, and (iii), defining the broader role of SAMHD1 in modulating the efficacy of oncology drugs.

In both Project 1 and 2, the doctoral student will be trained by experts in their respective fields in state-of-the art methods in translational medicine, ranging from biochemistry and biology through to pharmacology and disease models.

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 applicants with a keen interest in conducting translational research, particularly in uncovering the molecular mechanisms underpinning disease biology and how this can be modulated with small molecule tools.

Successful candidates should be highly motivated, curious, and creative, with an attention to detail. Previous hands-on experience in a research environment (conducting biochemistry, molecular or cell biology experiments for example) is essential.

Applicants are also expected to be organised and work constructively within a team, but also work well independently. Good communication skills in English (written and verbal) is essential, and emphasis will be placed upon personal suitability, taking into account how well the candidate fits within the current research group.

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.

Helleday Lab group page; Rudd Lab group page; Your career continues here


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
Number of positions 2
Full-time equivalent 100
City Solna
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number STÖD 2-474/2022
  • Athina Pliakou ,
  • Sean Rudd ,
Union representative
  • Andreas Lundqvist, SACO,
  • Henry Wölling, SEKO,
  • Helen Eriksson, OFR,
Published 01.Feb.2022
Last application date 11.Mar.2022 11:59 PM CET

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