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 doctoral position is available in the Division of Clinical Physiology, Department of Laboratory Medicine in Huddinge (KI South Campus), under the supervision Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalo. Our research aims to raise awareness of the relationship between physical activity and health, and of the causes of impaired body functions such as muscle wasting in microgravity, disease, or aging. Our research is conducted in close collaboration with the Unit of Clinical Physiology at the Karolinska University Hospital. Traditional metabolic and physiological measurements are combined with molecular analyses in various tissues as well as in primary cell cultures. 

Read about the Department of Laboratory Medicine

Read about the Division of Clinical Physiology


The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

Whether during hospitalization, aging, sedentary lifestyle, or a trip to Mars humans suffer from disused-induced skeletal muscle atrophy. In recent years, we have identified a number of potential transcriptional targets responsible for unloading-induced muscle changes. Mechanotransduction and proteasomal processes play critical roles in regulating skeletal muscle mass and function, but the specific role of each process, and the mechanisms behind their contribution to muscle atrophy (i.e., decreased muscle mass) and loss of function remain to be fully elucidated.

The main project is to discover, test, and confirm key factors controlling mechanotransduction and proteasomal activity that are involved in the regulation of skeletal muscle mass and function, and to investigate whether these factors can be modulated by countermeasures, such as exercise, in humans. The successful candidate will work primarily with cell models, but will also use skeletal muscle tissue from humans and mice. The student will then use molecular, functional, and phenotypic data to translate the findings of the project into the discovery of relevant mechanotransduction and proteasomal factors that control unloading/disuse induced skeletal muscle alterations. Therefore, we are looking for highly motivated students with a strong background in cell biology and a genuine interest in skeletal muscle physiology.


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 welcome applications from talented students with a degree in medicine, molecular biology, biomedicine, or exercise physiology (or similar) and a strong interest in cell biology. The selected candidate will be expected to actively participate in the development of scientific hypotheses, experimental design, execution of experiments, data analysis, presentation of results, and manuscript preparation. The project involves various cellular and molecular biology techniques as well as human and mouse sample processing and data analysis. Therefore, extensive cell culture techniques and wet lab experience (e.g., immunohistochemistry, qPCR, RNA and protein expression, etc.) are required. Although the project will primarily involve laboratory work, knowledge of statistical analysis, bioinformatics, and systems biology is desirable. Experience in animal and human tissue processing is highly desirable. It is essential that the student works with utmost diligence and organization in sample collection, experimental work, and data presentation. For the same reason, excellent communication skills are essential. Finally, the student is expected to demonstrate a high level of commitment, critical and original thinking in planning, optimizing, and performing experiments and in discussing results with the supervisor and other group members.

The candidate should be friendly, helpful, and willing to contribute to the larger team. We are looking for a highly motivated individual who is curious and open to new learning experiences. Importantly, the candidate must be interested in understanding the physiological changes induced by increased/decreased use in skeletal muscle at both the phenotypic and molecular levels.

Special emphasis will be placed on personal suitability.

Excellent oral and written proficiency in English is a requirement.


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 available at the Division of Clinical Physiology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, which is located at ANA Futura, campus Flemingsberg.


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
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Stockholm
County Stockholms län
Country Sweden
Reference number STÖD 2-3929/2023
  • Rodrigo Fernandez Gonzalo,
Union representative
  • Carina Eklund, OFR, 08-58582665
  • Emilie Hultin, SACO, 08-52483286
  • Henry Wölling, SEKO,
Published 18.Oct.2023
Last application date 15.Dec.2023 11:59 PM CET

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