Doctoral, Phd Student Position in in Pain Research

Stockholm, Sweden
21 Nov 2018
End of advertisement period
17 Dec 2018
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Karolinska Institutet,

At the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology we teach and conduct internationally acclaimed, high-quality research in Physiology, Pharmacology, Anesthesiology and Intensive care. We have around 400 employees, 30 research groups, and 90 doctoral students. Our research fields include cellular signaling, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, neuropsychopharmacology, neuroinflammation, pharmacogenetics, regenerative medicine, Renal System, anesthesiology and intensive care, muscle physiology and pain. Our collaboration with the clinics at Karolinska University Hospital provides unique opportunities for translational research within our subjects. More information about research at

We are recruiting a doctoral (PhD) student. For more information regarding doctoral education at Karolinska Institutet (KI), see:

Research group 

The overall research mission of the unit for molecular pain research led by Dr. Camilla Svensson is to advance our understanding of the mechanisms that drive chronic pain states, in particular persistent pain in arthritis and fibromyalgia. In this context, we are exploring how the immune system in the periphery and glial cells in the spinal cord affect the sensory nervous system and contribute to the regulation of pain signal transmission. Intracellular signaling pathways that are activated or deactivated in this process are being dissected and studied in relation to persistent pain. 

We use a number of behavioral, immunohistochemical, electrophysiological and molecular biological techniques to dissect pain pathways in vivo and in cell culture systems. The research group (10 PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and staff members) collaborate with preclinical as well as clinical researchers not only within Karolinska Institutet, but also with other Swedish and international researchers.

The doctoral education project and the duties of the student 

This PhD project is one out of eleven in an EU-funded Marie Skodowska-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 an unique training platform that ensures exposure to different research training environments.

Millions in Europe and beyond suffer from chronic pain as a debilitating complication of disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. The overall aim of the PhD project is to study the role of glia cells (microglia and satellite glial cells) in peripheral and spinal mechanisms leading to persistent pain. The main focus of the current PhD project will be to examine factors potentially critical for development of pain chronicity using antibody-induced animal models of pain pathology and different in vivo behavioural assays and immunological and molecular biological tools. The project also includes in vitro work in based on neuronal and glial cell cultures and associated assays as well as analysis of patient samples. The student will be part of a larger research network in Stockholm consisting of preclinical and clinical researchers.

A detailed description of the eleven PhD projects, including compulsory secondments, Supervisors and host organizations, as well as contact persons are available on This project is the Early Stage Researcher 4 (ESR 4) “Role of brain and spinal cord microglia, TSPO and IL-8 in arthritis associated pain”. More information is also available on the EURAXESS website:

Entry requirements for doctoral education at KI

In order to participate in the selection for a doctoral position at Karolinska Institutet, 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:

  1. has been awarded advanced/second-cycle/master qualification (i.e. master degree) or
  2. 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
  3. has acquired substantially equivalent konwledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

Specific entry requirements

Proficiency in English equivalent to the course English B/English 6 at Swedish upper secondary school is an entry requirement for doctoral education at KI. Applicants who meet the general entry requirements (1 or 2 above) from a university in one of the Nordic countries has met the requirements in English.

Follow the link below for information on how other applicants can certify their English proficiency (such as through IELTS or TOEFL, previous upper secondary or university level studies). For more information regarding general and specific entry requirements, 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 seeking a highly motivated, talented student who has the maturity and desire to study hard and independently as well as work in a group setting. The day-to-day studies are to a large extent laboratory based and require self-motivation. In addition, the research is team based and the group have multiple ongoing collaborative projects and as such the applicant must have an ability to interact effectively and work productively in a collaborative manner. The applicant must be fluent in English, with excellent communication and writing skills. A genuine high level of curiosity for research in general and in the pain field in particular is advantageous. Previous experience in the fields of neuroscience, immunology and/or behavioral pharmacology is considered an advantage for this project. Emphasis will be placed on personal skills, motivation and previous experience of laboratory work. 

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

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

  • A personal letter and a curriculum vitae
  • Documents certifying the entry requirements*: Academic degree diplomas, transcripts of records, and if applicable, authorised translations
  • Copies of degree projects and any previous publications
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • Any other documentation showing the desirable skills and personal qualities described 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:

If an applicant claims equivalent konwledge (point 3 under general entry requirements above) for the eligibility assessment, a form has to be filled in and submitted. Please find more information here:


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.

KI 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 selection process will include several steps. The most suitable applicants will proceed to the next step which includes personal interviews. All applicants will be informed when the recruitment is done.

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    2-6243/2018
Professor Camilla Svensson, Group leader, Camilla
Union representative    

  • Göran Engberg, SACO, 08-524 867 17
  • Niklas Andersson, OFR,
  • Henry Wölling, SEKO,

Published    20.Nov.2018
Last application date    17.Dec.2018 11:59 PM CET