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

Team Ola Olén is devoted to research questions in gastroenterology that have a strong potential to make a difference in clinical practice and currently consists of a group of clinical and other researchers, who seek to help inform decisions in clinical practice through high-quality epidemiological research on the basis of nationwide health care registers and clinical databases.

The team has ongoing collaboration with groups in Denmark, UK, and the US, as well as at other parts of Karolinska Institutet, and all other medical universities in Sweden; are supported by several public funding sources; and, has an outstanding publication track record, which can be found here:

We are looking for a skilled and driven statistician who would like to pursue a doctoral education in a dynamic research environment at the intersection of academia, health care, and the private sector. He or she wishes to pursue epidemiologic research and has a strong interest in addressing clinical questions through state-of-the-art epidemiological and biostatistical methods.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

Background: Childhood-onset inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of chronic disorders characterized by inflammation in the digestive tract. The treatment options are varied and rapidly changing, with multiple novel treatments introduced during the last decade. Since there is a known long time-lag between the publication of new evidence/guidelines and the implementation of such findings in routine clinical practice and since very few of the most recent IBD drugs are formally approved for children, it is hard to predict the uptake of the currently swiftly changing therapeutic landscape in pediatric patients. Reports of what treatment pathways that childhood-onset IBD patients are exposed to in today’s clinical practice are scant and mostly restricted to single tertiary centers. To update such knowledge is important because of variations in efficacy, safety profiles and associated costs of current drugs. Moreover, due to rapid development of new products it is essential to understand where unmet medical needs exist and where these products fit in.

The aim with any IBD medication is inflammation free remission for the patient. To what extent this is achieved in routine clinical practice, outside the pivotal trials (almost always restricted to adults fulfilling strict inclusion criteria, far from routine clinical practice in pediatrics) is currently unknown. It is currently even unknown how well longitudinal data on inflammatory status can be captured using routinely collected data in Swedish IBD patients today.

Real-world comparisons of the safety of different new targeted immunomodulatory treatments in childhood-onset IBD patients is currently scant at best. Until now, almost all patients have been treated according to a more or less strict “treatment ladder”, making fair comparisons between drugs at different steps in the ladder all but impossible. With a rapidly increasing choice of drugs, more and more alternatives at a given “step” in the ladder it will be possible to better than ever before describe the true comparative risk of infections in childhood-onset IBD patients exposed to different immunomodulatory drugs.

Due to their effect on the immune system, both IBD itself and IBD therapies that suppress or modulate the immune system have been associated with an increased risk for infections. Studies trying to disentangle the effect of IBD and its treatment on risks of different co-morbidities such as serious infections are lacking.

Specific Aims

To address these knowledge gaps, we aim to conduct four studies with these specific goals;

  1. Characterize current treatment pathways for childhood-onset IBD patients in Swedish routine medical practice.
  2. Evaluate how well combinations of Swedish national registers alongside routinely collected clinical data can capture longitudinal inflammatory status and trajectory.
  3. Compare the risk of severe infections in childhood-onset IBD patients on different immunomodulating drugs (vs matched IBD-free comparators and vs propensity score matched within IBD comparators on other drugs).
  4. Compare the risk of severe infections between childhood-onset IBD patients on different immunomodulatory treatments, taking degree and duration of inflammation into account.

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 successful applicant should have an MSc in statistics, epidemiology or equivalent, with sufficient knowledge in biostatistics and statistical programming to perform advanced data management and statistical analysis from day one. Extensive experience using SAS and R when analyzing large-scale and complex register-based healthcare data is crucial.

The position will require interactions with researchers, clinicians, and representatives from the pharmaceutical industry. Excellent grasp of spoken and written scientific English is essential and for this position, with extensive interaction with Swedish healthcare units and agencies, fluency in Swedish is a must. Strong presentation skills are preferable. In the assessment of the candidates, we place particular emphasis on interpersonal skills.

Terms and conditions

The doctoral student will be employed on a doctoral studentship maximum 4 years full-time.

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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 eleven divisions and each division consists of several research groups. The position is located within the research group of Professor Johan Askling: Forskargrupp Johan Askling | Karolinska Institutet ( at the Division of Clinical Epidemiology. More specifically, the position is located in the gastroenterology research team, led by Associate Professor Ola Olén, MD (Ola Olén | Karolinska Institutet (

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 2-4335/2023
  • Ola Olén,
Union representative
  • Afsar Rahbar OFR,
  • Louisa Cheung, SACO,
Published 09.Nov.2023
Last application date 23.Nov.2023 11:59 PM CET

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