Doctoral Student Position in Pain Research Focusing on Neuroinflammation

Stockholm, Sweden
02 Nov 2018
End of advertisement period
18 Nov 2018
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Neuroscience (CNS)

The Department of Clinical Neuroscience (CNS) conducts research and education in the field of neuroscience from the molecular level to the society level. The clinical research and education is conducted in collaboration with other research groups from the Karolinska Institutet, with other universities as well as the Stockholm County Council.
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We are recruiting a student for doctoral education.

For more information regarding doctoral (PhD) education, see:

Research group

The doctoral student for this project will be a part of Eva Kosek’s research group ( research group forms part of a larger network of preclinical as well as clinical researchers collaborating not only within Karolinska Institutet, but also with other Swedish and international researchers. The focus is on pathophysiological mechanisms in chronic musculoskeletal pain, such as fibromyalgia, chronic low back pain, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Particular focus has been on the role of endogenous pain modulation in the development of chronic pain. Lately, emphasis has also been on the importance of neuroimmune interactions in chronic pain patients. In order to disentangle relevant mechanisms a wide variety of methods are used, such as questionnaires, sophisticated uses of quantitative sensory testing to assess endogenous pain modulation, laboratory analysis of inflammatory/algogenic substances in cerebrospinal fluid, blood and synovial fluid, neuroimaging (fMRI, MRS, PET) and genetics. We also perform treatment studies focusing on the mechanisms of action of drugs, as well as non-pharmacological treatments such as cognitive behavior therapy, physical exercise (physiotherapy) or surgery in chronic pain patients.

The doctoral education project and the duties of the student

This PhD project is one out of eleven in an EU-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network, with the acronym TOBeATPAIN. TOBeATPAIN is structured around two research areas: 1) pathophysiology of pain in neurodegenerative diseases characterised by neuroinflammation, and 2) pathophysiology of neuroinflammation in chronic pain syndromes. The strong inter-sectoral (five world leading universities, three biotech SMEs, two large companies, and one non-profit research organisation charity) and the international dimension (four European countries are represented) offers a unique training platform that ensures exposure to different research training environments.

The main focus of the current PhD project is neuroinflammation and pain processing in patients suffering from fibromyalgia and other chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions, such as osteoarthritis. The student will use a variety of tools such as validated questionnaires, sophisticated methods for quantitative sensory testing, brain imaging (e.g. functional magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy and positron emission tomography) and genetic analysis. The student will be part of a large research network in Stockholm, consisting of preclinical and clinical researchers as well as clinicians and geneticists. The PhD student will work with recruitment of patients and research subjects, assessments, imaging, data analysis and drafting of scientific articles.

A detailed description of the eleven PhD projects, including compulsory secondments, Supervisors and host organisations, as well as contact persons are available on This project is the Early Stage Researcher 3 (ESR 3) “Neuroinflammation and pain processing in fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis”.More information is also available on the EURAXESS webside: (

Entry requirements for doctoral education at KI

To be eligible for doctoral education, the following requirements have to be met:

General entry requirements

  • A person meets the general entry requirements for doctoral/third-cycle/PhD education (according to Higher Education Ordinance Chapt 7, section 39) if he/she:
  • has been awarded advanced/second-cycle/master qualification (i.e. master degree) or
  • has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second-cycle/master level, or
  • has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

For more information regarding the general entry requirements, please see:

Specific entry requirements

Proficiency in English equivalent to the course English B/English 6 at Swedish upper secondary school. Applicants who meet the general entry requirements (1 or 2 above) from a university in one of the Nordic countries fulfill the English language requirement.

For information on how other applicants can certify their English proficiency (such as through IELTS or TOEFL, previous upper secondary or university level studies), please see:

Specific requirements for the Innovative Training Network (ITN)

All PhD students recruited in an ITN must be Early-Stage Researchers (ESR). ESR can be of any nationality and age, and they must comply with the level of experience and mobility rule (see below).

Level of experience

Early-Stage Researchers (= PhD Students) must, at the date of recruitment by the beneficiary, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. The date of recruitment means the first day of the employment of the researcher for the purposes of the action (i.e. the starting date indicated in the employment contract or equivalent direct contract). Full-time equivalent research experience is measured from the date when the researcher obtained the degree entitling him/her to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited), even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged.

Mobility rule

Researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account.

Skills and personal qualities

We are looking for a talented, motivated student fulfilling the general entry requirements for doctoral education at Karolinska Institutet, and the specific requirements for ITN. The successful candidate has a background in medicine, biomedicine, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, neuroimmunology or other suitable areas. Previous experience in clinical pain research, quantitative sensory testing in humans and/or human neuroimaging (fMRI/MRS/PET) is meritorious, but not required. A knowledge of and experience with MatLab, SPSS, Python or similar statistical programs/scientific programming languages is desirable. Good knowledge of spoken and written English are mandatory. Good collaborative and communication skills are also required for this project.

Assessment criteria

A selection will be made among qualified applicants on the basis of the ability to benefit from doctoral education. 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.

The qualifications of the applicants will be evaluated on an overall basis.

Terms and conditions

All doctoral students at KI receive financial support during their doctoral education and employment on a doctoral studentship is the most common sort of support.

Application process

The application must contain the following documents in Swedish or English:

  • A personal letter and a curriculum vitae
  • Academic degree diplomas, transcripts of records in original language and, if applicable, authorised translations
  • Copies of degree projects and any previous publications
  • Proof of English proficiency as stated in the specific requirement above
  • All documents certifying the entry requirements must be scans of originals (scans of copies or certified copies will not be accepted). The scanned documents must be in color and both the front and the back of the documents must be scanned. Please note that there are specific documentation requirements for a number countries, please read the instructions at:

The application and supporting documents are to be submitted through the Varbi recruitment system.

Karolinska Institutet is one of the world’s leading medical universities. Its vision is to significantly contribute to the improvement of human health. Karolinska Institutet accounts for the single largest share of all academic medical research conducted in Sweden and offers the country’s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences.

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet selects the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine.

Pursuant to the regulations of the Swedish National Archives, applications are kept on file for two years after the appointment has gained legal force. The regulations do not apply to attachments that have been printed or otherwise published.

Karolinska Institutet strives to provide a workplace that has approximately the same number of women and men, is free of discrimination and offers equal opportunity to everyone.

For temp agencies and recruiters, and to salespersons: We politely, yet firmly, decline direct contact with temp agencies and recruiters, as well as those selling additional job announcements.

Type of employment PhD placement
Contract type Full time
First day of employment As soon as possible
Salary Monthly salary
Reference number 2-6113/2018

Elin Hammergård, HR-administrator,
Eva Kosek, Professor,

Union representative
Venus Azhary, OFR, 0707-124 127
Henry Wölling, SEKO,
Arsalan Amir, SACO, 08 - 517 733 37,

Published 26.Oct.2018
Last application date 18.Nov.2018 11:59 PM CET