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 research group within the Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine Solna, conducts translational research focusing on novel disease mechanisms related to atherosclerosis and ischemic heart disease including treatment of cardiovascular complications in cardiometabolic disorders. The group is led by Professor John Pernow and the current PhD project will be conducted in a team led by PI Assistant Professor Zhichao Zhou within the larger research group. This research team is located at BioClinicum, Karolinska University Hospital and actively collaborates with many excellent cardiovascular research groups within and outside Karolinska Institutet.

In recent years, we have been studying the role of red blood cells in the development of endothelial dysfunction in diabetes, and we have demonstrated a novel function of red blood cell as a mediator of diabetes-associated vascular complications (Zhou et al. J Am Coll Cardiol 2018; Zhou et al. Diabetes 2021). This also includes the identification of mediators released from red blood cells to regulate cardiac function (Yang et al. J Clin Invest 2023). The next step of this novel research line is to identify molecular mechanisms and characterize the function of red blood cell-derived factors in the development of endothelial dysfunction in diabetes, and how red blood cells transmit signals to the vasculature to regulate endothelial function.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

The aim of this project is to characterize the function of red blood cell-derived factors in the development of vascular dysfunction in type 2 diabetes and study the role of hypoxia in the communication of the red blood cell and vascular dysfunction. Studies are designed using a combination of clinically-based and molecular/biochemical methods. Samples from well-characterized patients with type 2 diabetes, rodent diabetic models, gene-modified mouse models and cell models are used. Research projects involve in vitro (including isolation of red blood cells, extracellular vesicles and animal tissues, cell culture, immunohistochemistry, Western blot and qPCR), ex vivo (vessel reactivity assessment with Wire myograph) and in vivo experimental methods (including rat and mouse work). This project has the potential to identify altered red blood cell-derived factors as new mechanisms underlying endothelial injury in type 2 diabetes and open up new potential therapeutic possibilities in patients with type 2 diabetes for the treatment of diabetes-induced vascular complications by specifically targeting red blood cell-derived factors and vascular signalling pathways.

The student will also contribute to the general management and dynamic of the laboratory.

This is a full-time position (100%).

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

Applicants who are medical students or have obtained a Master degree within the area of molecular/cell biology, physiology, pharmacology, medical biotechnology or related areas are welcome to apply. Applicants should have a deep interest in medical and biological problems. The position needs laboratory skills including cell culture, molecular and biochemical techniques. Previous experience with isolation of extracellular vesicles, Wire myograph as well as animal work is a merit. The candidate should have good social and communication skills as well as good spoken and written English language level, to effectively integrate in the research group.

We welcome a creative, hardworking and enthusiastic team-player to this project. The PhD candidate is expected to take part in experimental design, experimentation, presentations, and preparation of publications.

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 John Pernow (Head of Division of Cardiology) at BioClinicum.

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 2-4701/2023
  • Zhichao Zhou,
Union representative
  • Afsar Rahbar OFR,
  • Louisa Cheung, SACO,
Published 28.Nov.2023
Last application date 09.Jan.2024 11:59 PM CET

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