Do you want to contribute to top quality medical research?

The Department of Laboratory Medicine consists of seven divisions and is active in most areas of Laboratory Medicine. The division of Clinical Physiology is involved in advanced basic science, clinical and epidemiological research. The division is one of the largest training divisions at Karolinska Institutet. A PhD position involves an available PhD training project for which a PhD student will be recruited. After the selection process, the admission process to the PhD program will begin. An admission decision will not be made until an individual study plan has been approved by the department's admissions committee.

Being a doctoral student means being admitted to a third-cycle education (doctoral education) where you follow an individual study plan. A doctoral student engages in a research project under supervision, supplemented by courses and other learning activities. A doctoral degree requires the equivalent of four years of full-time doctoral education.

Read about doctoral education at KI 

The research group

The student will work at the Division of Clinical Physiology at the Department of Laboratory Medicine in Huddinge, in the integrative research group at Clinical Physiology under the leadership of Thomas Gustafsson. Our research in clinical physiology aims to increase awareness of the relationship between physical activity and health, as well as the causes of impaired body function such as muscle wasting in inactivity, disease or aging. Our research ranges from the whole body level down to specific tissues and organs at the molecular level. The research is conducted in close collaboration with the Department of Physiology at Karolinska University Hospital. Traditional metabolic and physiological measurements are combined with molecular analysis (gene and protein expression, arrays and bioinformatics) in different tissues and in primary cell cultures.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

Exercise-induced improvement of maximal oxygen uptake capacity (VO2max) occurs through adaptations of both peripheral and central factors. Previous research shows that the respiratory capacity of the mitochondria exceeds the oxygen transport from the cardiorespiratory system, which means that VO2max is primarily limited by cardiac output and the central factors have a significant role in increasing VO2max. There is a direct link between the effect of exercise on blood volume increase and increased cardiac output. Both traditional cardio training and interval training produce similar increases in VO2max despite their large differences in intensity and duration. Despite extensive research in traditional fitness training and related adaptations, the mechanism behind the observed blood volume increase is not yet fully understood. In addition, studies investigating the mechanisms behind exercise-induced adaptations after interval training have mainly focused on peripheral adaptations and overlooked possible hypervolemia and increased cardiac output. In this project, we aim to investigate 1) the significance and possible consequences of the increase in total blood volume as a cause of improvements in VO2max during interval training, and 2) the underlying mechanisms behind the blood volume increase that follows both traditional cardio and interval training.

The student will use established techniques to measure blood and plasma volume, cardiac output and acute plasma volume changes. Molecular techniques and measurements of protein synthesis will be used to study the molecular response associated with hypervolemia. 

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 student with a particular interest in exercise physiology and experience in education and education administration software (Ladok, Canvas, Inspera, etc.). The applicant should have a strong background in human physiology, preferably with experience in molecular biology as a licensed Biomedical Analyst with specialization in clinical physiology. Knowledge and experience in laboratory techniques (RNA/protein extraction, q-PCR, cell cultures, enzyme tests) and statistics is desirable. Experience in planning and conducting large-scale exercise studies/clinical trials and/or invasive experimentation in humans and professional experience working in an exercise physiology laboratory is highly desirable.

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 According to agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100%
City Huddinge
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number STÖD 2-2863/2023
  • Thomas Gustafsson, Avdelningschef,
Union representative
  • Henry Wölling, SEKO,
  • Carina Eklund, OFR, 08-58582665
  • Annica Lindqvist, SACO,
Published 13.Jul.2023
Last application date 03.Aug.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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