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 Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics conducts research in epidemiology and biostatistics across a broad range of areas within biomedical science. The department is among the largest of its type in Europe and has especially strong research profiles in psychiatric, cancer, reproductive, pediatric, pharmaco, genetic, and geriatric epidemiology, eating disorders, and biostatistics. Our department consists of researchers, doctoral students, biostatisticians, data collectors and database administrators as well as administrative personnel, in total some 270 staff.

The department is situated at campus Solna. Further information can be found at

The research group

The main focus of the Lichtenstein/Butwicka research group is at the intersection of studies within psychiatric epidemiology, mental health, pediatrics and pharmacoepidemiology. We offer a stimulating scientific environment as well as a possibility to collaborate with other researchers at the department, at Karolinska Institutet, in Sweden and abroad.

Supervisors of the doctoral student will be Agnieszka Butwicka, Ralf Kuja-Halkola, Paul Lichtenstein and Tatja Hirvikoski.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

Intellectual disability (ID) affects 2% of children worldwide. The disability is present throughout the lifespan, leading to significant morbidity and premature deaths. Early-life risk factors and low socioeconomic status (SES) are associated with ID. But the absence of genetically-informative studies has prevented researchers from distinguishing between potential causal environmental influences and genetic confounding. The doctoral student will be involved in a new project with an overarching aim of disentangling effects of early-life environmental factors (e.g., maternal and neonatal factors) on ID and identifying at-risk groups needing clinical surveillance, using observational and family-based quasi-experimental designs. More specially, the aim of this project is to answer the following research questions:

  1. What is the mechanism by which early-life risk factors are associated with risk of ID
  2. What is the mechanism underlying the association between SES and ID?
  3. Which early-life risk factors mediate this associations?
  4. Which risk groups are mostly likely to benefit from targeted pediatric surveillance and early health interventions?

The project will be based on large-scale longitudinally collected linkage of administrative and health registers along with the Swedish Twin and Multi-Generation Registers.

Under supervision, the PhD student will be responsible for literature review, epidemiological study design and data analyses and the interpretation and presentation of results (through scientific publications and conference presentations).

What do we offer?

Choose to work at KI-Ten reasons why
Career support for doctoral students
International staff

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

For the announced PhD position, a university education in medicine, public health, epidemiology, statistic, sociology, psychology or a related subject is required. Previous experience in epidemiological studies, analysis of register data and programming skills in SAS, R, and/or Stata is a particular merit. A very good knowledge of spoken and written English is a requirement for the position.

We attach great importance to personal qualities in this recruitment. As a person, you are highly motivated, enthusiastic and curious individual. Applicants must demonstrate a high degree of accuracy and independence. The work involves close collaboration with others, which is why good collaboration skills are of great importance.

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.


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 Enligt överenskommelse
Salary Månadslön
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Stockholm
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number STÖD 2-1338/2023
  • Agnieszka Butwicka,
  • Adina Nisell, HR,
Union representative
  • Ann Almqvist, SACO,
  • Henry Wölling, SEKO,
  • Niklas Andersson, OFR,
Published 29.Mar.2023
Last application date 10.May.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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