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 successful candidate will work in the team of Bence Réthi, Aase Hensvold, and Akilan Krishnamurthy in collaboration with Vivianne Malmström and Lars Klareskog at the Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Solna. Our team is specialized in studying very early pathological mechanisms that contribute to the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In the recent years, we have established a unique experimental platform to understand how human patient-derived autoantibodies trigger pathological changes in vivo, such as joint pain, bone erosion and inflammation. Our findings and experimental models have inspired multiple collaborative projects with pharmaceutical companies where we analyse novel early-stage therapies in RA. In addition to experimental research, we study a large cohort of individuals at risk of developing RA, people who carry autoantibodies typical for RA and have musculoskeletal complaints, with the aim of identifying environmental factors and immune mechanisms that can be linked to RA development.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

The project will focus on the effects of different autoantibody clones on RA development. These antibodies have been cloned from plasma cells or memory B cells of RA patients and recognize post-translationally modified proteins (primarily citrullinated or malondialdehyde (MDA)-conjugated proteins). First, we will study how T cell mediated mechanisms or inflammatory mediators modulate autoantibody-induced pathways in mice. We will also analyse metabolic changes induced by anti-MDA antibodies and the effect of these on bone eroding osteoclasts. In addition to mouse models, the student will analyse how different autoantibody types (levels and fine-specificities) might contribute to the production of inflammatory mediators and to bone damage in humans progressing towards RA. The student will learn from group members the analysis of behavioural changes, bone erosion (X-ray microscopy) and inflammation (MRI) in autoantibody-injected mice, in addition to various immunological and molecular methodologies. The student will also learn how to work with human samples and participate in epidemiological analyses. The aim is to achieve independence in planning and executing experiments and an active contribution of the student in methodological advances, in discussing and publishing results and in developing further research lines. The student will actively participate in group- and institutional meetings and present his/her results on national and international conferences.

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 only consider candidates with genuine interest in immunology and autoimmunity. Good collaboration skills and a capacity of independent work and problem solving are required. Since the projects are largely composed of in vivo murine models and the analyses of human clinical samples, an affinity to these kinds of studies is necessary. Although the student will have chance to acquire the experimental skills needed for the projects, previous experience in immunological studies and the acquaintance with immunological, molecular and statistical methodologies will be positively acknowledged.

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 employment is at the Department of Medicine, Solna. The Department consists of twelve divisions and each division consists of several research groups. This position is located within the research group of Per-Johan Jakobsson at the Reumatology Division, team Bence Réthi and Aase Hensvold. The group is located at the Center for Molecular Medicine (CMM),, at the Karolinska University Hospital area.

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 2-4261/2021
  • Bence Réthi, +46 704032292
Union representative
  • Afsar Rahbar OFR,
  • Louisa Cheung, SACO,
Published 30.Sep.2021
Last application date 21.Oct.2021 11:59 PM CEST

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