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 Cardiology is looking for a PhD student to join Dr. Bahira Shahim and her team to investigate the mechanisms underlying the association between mitral valve prolapse and malignant arrhythmias. The team consists of experts and surgeon in valvular heart disease, arrytmic disease and heart failure as well as the Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (CMR) Group that have developed innovative CMR analysis approaches such as T1 mapping, extracellular volume (ECV)-fraction and MRI-fingerprinting to assess diffuse fibrosis and assessment of cardiac hemodynamics using four-dimensional flow magnetic resonance imaging (4D Flow MRI). The team also collaborates with a team at Bioclinicum with a long experience of creating valve biobanks, sample preparations and storage that will contribute to genetic analysis of the mitral valve apparatus.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

Mitral valve prolapse is a common (≈1 in 40 individuals) heart valve disorder and is associated with heart rhythm disturbances and mitral regurgitation which can cause heart failure without surgical intervention. The underlying mechanisms surrounding the connection between mitral valve prolapse, malignant arrhythmias and heart failure are not clear, however myocardial fibrosis and abnormal atrial displacement of the mitral valve during heart contractions (so-called mitral annulus disjunction (MAD)), are considered important prognostic markers. The PhD student will investigate with cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) whether the presence and type of fibrosis can predict the risk of heart arrhythmias and heart failure in patients after surgery, and whether fibrosis can be reversed with surgery. The candidate will also analyse CMR-examinations in MVP patients with mild to moderate mitral regurgitation to follow the development of myocardial fibrosis over time to determine if intervention should occur at an earlier stage. The PhD student will also be involved in a retrospective observational study that evaluates outcomes (mortality, complications and reoperation) after intervention as well as analysis of per- and postoperative echocardiograms to detect MAD in MVP patients who have undergone surgery. The study will also perform immunohistochemistry to analyse blood samples and heart biopsies to study inflammatory and profibrotic signalling. Finally, surgically removed mitral valves will be studied with advanced genetic technology to investigate if somatic genetic abnormalities leading to tissue mosaicism and subsequent disease underlies progression of MVP and MAD. The results will provide new understanding of the mechanisms underlying mitral valve prolapse and potentially alter the way researchers and clinicians approach the pathophysiology and treatment of MVP and design a new type of individualised care for this common patient group.

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 should be pursuing or holding a qualifying degree in a field relevant to medical imaging and have a documented background in CMR-imaging including experience in image analysis of cine sequences, native T1-, ECV- and quantitative myocardial perfusion-maps.

Highly motivated candidate with analytical and organisational skills with problem-solving attitude and independence to ensure the research project progresses according to plan.

The candidate should possess interpersonal and communication skills in order to interact and work in the research team. Excellent communication skills in both spoken and written English are a must.


Previous experience with scientific data analysis with statistical software (eg R or SPSS) is advantageous.

Previous experience with interpreting echocardiograms is meritorious.

Involvement in previous scientific publications and previous presentations at research conferences in cardiovascular imaging is meritorious.  

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.


The position is located within the Department of Medicine, Solna. The department consists of twelve divisions and each division consists of several research groups. The position is located within the research group of professor Lars Lund with focus on epidemiology, clinical and molecular aspects of heart failure.

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
Full-time equivalent 100
City Solna
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number STÖD 2-4318/2023
  • Bahira Shahim,
Union representative
  • Afsar Rahbar OFR,
  • Louisa Cheung, SACO,
Published 25.Apr.2023
Last application date 09.May.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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