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

Applications are invited for a PhD position in immunology, in the group of Dr. Magdalena Paolino, funded by the Karolinska Institutet, the Swedish Research Council, Cancerfonden, and the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation.

The Paolino lab is a dynamic and well-funded research group that applies multi-disciplinary and innovative approaches for gene editing in disease modeling, to reveal the underlying molecular mechanisms of disease pathogenesis that could be used for developing novel therapies. Our focus is on exploring novel roles for ubiquitin-related genes in physiology and disease, covering primarily immunity, cancer, and metabolism (Nature 2021, Nature 2018, Cell 2015, Nature 2014, see lab page for a full list of publications). Besides providing access to cutting-edge technology and infrastructure, our lab offers a creative, collaborative, and supportive environment full of expertise, passion, and curiosity.  Between our lab members, collaborators, and PhD co-supervisors we offer the student a wide range of competencies and technical skills to learn from.  With our research, we aim to go all the way from animal genetics to therapy, and we strive to have important implications for human health and disease treatment. 

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

The research project will characterize fundamental features of T cell biology and immunometabolism and uncover, for the first time, the role of atypical ubiquitination in T cells. Particularly, the Ph.D. student will use knockout strategies in cells and mice to investigate the role of a novel ubiquitin-related enzyme in the regulation of the responses and metabolism of T cells. For this, the student will use mainly gene-edited mice to perform diverse ex vivo and in vivo T-cell-based studies, disease models of cancer, asthma, and airway inflammation, as well as biochemical and proteomics approaches. In doing this project, the student will help illuminate the complexity and dynamics of the ubiquitin code, highlight the relevance of atypical ubiquitin chains in T-cell biology and immunity, as well as uncover molecular mechanisms involved in immune-mediated diseases that could serve for future targeted therapies.

The project requires learning and applying diverse methodologies in which the group is specialized, including the use of knockout mice and in vivo models of immunity, CRISPR/Cas9 and shRNA gene-editing technologies, microscopy, FACS, histology, overexpression and immunoprecipitations, enzymatic assays, and seahorse flux metabolic studies. For this, the student will take advantage of the common lab set-ups, knowledge, and support, but will work independently. The successful applicant will acquire basic as well as specialized knowledge and understanding in T cell biology, disease modeling, posttranslational modifications, and gene regulation. The project offers the possibility to gain substantial training in modern biomedical research and complementary skills to promote both professional and personal development.

The candidate is expected to take a strong lead in the project’s design, experimentation, data analysis, and interpretation as well as presentation/publication of the research. The duties also include working in a team, keeping up with the literature, presenting data, and attending seminars, lab meetings, and journal clubs while adhering to high scientific standards.

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 a highly motivated candidate, with a strong scientific drive and who preferably holds a degree in the areas of Molecular Biology or Biomedicine. The applicant should have experience working in a research lab, and be willing to perform animal research. Knowledge from animal handling, disease modeling in vivo, T cell biology and immunology is advantageous. Experience with standard immunological assays and techniques, including FACS, as well as gene-editing techniques will also be considered assets.

A strong interest in disease modeling, and translational medicine as well as commitment to a continuous professional development are important. The ideal candidate should be scientifically adventurous and curiosity-driven and should bring independent and original ideas into the project, yet be receptive to supervision. Ambitious and committed students with the ability to work efficiently are especially encouraged to apply. Any previous records of independent research as well as productive interactions within a team (e.g. first- or co-author publications) are advantageous. Ability to work in an interdisciplinary and international environment and good communication skills (proficiency in spoken and written English) are necessary.

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. 

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 Dr. Magdalena Paolino, included in the Cardiovascular medicine division, at the Bioclinicum research laboratory, Karolinska University Hospital, Campus Solna. The Bioclinicum research building provides an open and international research environment, top-notch in-house infrastructure, and access to daily seminars and lectures by world-leading scientists.


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 Stockholm
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number STÖD 2-4316/2023
  • Magdalena Paolino,
Union representative
  • Afsar Rahbar OFR,
  • Louisa Cheung, SACO,
Published 20.Jun.2023
Last application date 06.Aug.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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