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 Neuropsychoimmunology Unit, headed by Prof. Sophie Erhardt, focuses on the pathophysiology behind severe psychiatric disorders with special attention to immune activation. We use a number of analytical methods (e.g. HPLC, LC/MS, GC/MS, Mesoscale, Luminex) for biochemical detection of a variety of amino acids, tryptophan/kynurenine- and monoamine metabolites as well as cytokines/chemokines. In-house methods in the laboratory consist of in vivo electrophysiology (single unit recording techniques), microdialysis and behavioral techniques as well as immunological, immunohistochemical and molecular biological techniques to dissect neuropsychoimmune pathways in vivo and in cell culture systems. The research group (approximately 10 PhD students, senior researchers and staff members) has an extensive network of both preclinical and clinical collaborators not only within Karolinska Institutet, but also at other Swedish and international universities.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

The objective of this PhD project is to investigate brain-penetrant drug candidates effective for psychosis and/or cognitive impairments. Such drugs would have the potential to significantly improve the quality of life of affected individuals. More specifically we would like the new drug to dampen the synthesis of brain kynurenic acid (KYNA) via inhibition of immune-regulated enzymes. The primary aim of this PhD student project is to investigate the efficacy of drugs in reducing KYNA concentrations in both in vitro and in vivo assays. Also, their influence on brain dopamine neuronal activity and behavior will be investigated. The second aim is to perform target validation studies in clinical cohorts, enabling the identification of the patient to treat.

The research work includes in vivo electrophysiology, microdialysis, standard molecular biological techniques, immunostainings, histology, and cell culture studies. We use tissue samples from patients. The PhD student is expected to participate in the experimental design, experimentation, analysis, and presentation/publication of research results. 

The research group has close contact with other academic research labs, clinicians, and industries, and the student is required to actively participate in these collaborative efforts. The chosen candidate is expected to be part of the research group and will take part in a variety of academic and research-related activities, such as group meetings, departmental seminars, relevant international conferences, and, if needed, supervision of other students and researchers. In addition, the student will help with standard laboratory procedures.

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 we are looking for must have a university degree in pharmacology, neuroscience, biology, biomedicine, biochemistry, or similar. The candidate must be highly motivated, have good communication and collaboration skills, and have a strong research interest. A certified course in handling laboratory animals is advantageous but not mandatory. Applicants with skills and experience in drug discovery, knowledge in pharmacology, and practical experience in animal handling will have an advantage. English is the official language of our group; therefore, candidates must have outstanding oral and written English language skills. The selected candidate needs to be able to collaborate and be a team player. Extensive attention to detail, strict commitment to research ethics, and strong documentation and organization abilities are required.

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 Upon agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100 %
City Stockholm
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number STÖD 2-2872/2023
  • Sophie Erhardt,
Union representative
  • Helin Norberg, SACO ,
  • Niklas Andersson, ST,
  • Henry Wölling, SEKO, henry.wö
Published 12.Jul.2023
Last application date 04.Aug.2023 11:59 PM CEST

Return to job vacancies