Phd Position, Ethical Aspects of Controlling and Sharing Personal Health Data

Trondheim, Norway
05 Feb 2019
End of advertisement period
15 Mar 2019
Contract Type
Full Time

This is NTNU

At NTNU, creating knowledge for a better world is the vision that unites our 7 000 employees and 40 000 students.

We are looking for dedicated employees to join us.

The department and research group:

This Ph.D. position is at the Department of Public Health and Nursing (ISM), Øya, NTNU Trondheim. For more information about the department, see The Ph.D. candidate will work in the research group of medical ethics at the department, see The research group has a long standing specialized competence in the ethics of health data management. Associate Professor Lars Ursin,, will be the main supervisor of the Ph.D. candidate, with Professor Arnulf Langhammer and Professor Tsjalling Swierstra as co-supervisors.

About the position

This position is a fixed term, full time (100 %) position for 3 years, starting in June 2019.

The position offers challenging and varied tasks in a research group engaged in fundamental as well as applied questions in medical ethics. The research group members have been and are currently part of various multidisciplinary research projects in research ethics and clinical ethics. The Ph.D. project is an integral part of the multidisciplinary Health Democratization project group. 

The position is funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the IKTPLUSS project Reinforcing the Health Data Infrastructure in Mobility and Assurance through Data Democratization (Health Democratization). The successful candidate will closely cooperate with other Ph.D. and Post. Doc. researchers in the Health Democratization project, towards the project goal of establishing a trusted incentive layer in the future national health data infrastructure.

Job description

In the Digital Era of today, an enormous amount of data – including health data – are created on and by citizens and patients. These health data are important in the lifestyle choices of citizens and care of individual patients, and they provide a cornerstone in the vision of tomorrow’s Precision/P4 medicine. Sharing of health data is an integral part of this vision, and vital for future clinical care as well as healthcare research. Health data likewise has great value for commercial parties such as the pharmaceutical industry, data analytics providers, and insurance companies. However, in this development, it is vital to protect and promote the interests of individuals, including their interest in sharing data and need for protection of privacy. Individuals should be able to control and share their health data – monitoring of health status, research participation, and clinical use – in fair, transparent and secure ways.

This Ph.D. position is part of the Health Democratization project, aiming to architect a democratic information and communications technology (ICT) ecosystem that will empower individuals, enable all parties to pursue their rights and fulfil their duties, and incentivize sharing, trade and open access. The proposed data management approach should radically improve the motivation and ability of individuals to administer their health data. For institutions and companies, the system will give new health care research and innovation possibilities, and new ways to interact with patients and other parties. The ICT ecosystem should promote transparency in storage and use of data and enable easy oversight and administration by individuals. The system should offer personalized feedback and follow-up, and provide a platform for easy and trusted interaction between individuals, institutions and companies.

The Ph.D.-candidate will map the central ethical opportunities and challenges inherent in this ICT ecosystem. These will lie in the fields of medical research, clinical ethics and data protection rights. The successful candidate will provide a critical bird’s eye view of the basic visions of the Health Democratization project and their proposed implementation. S/he will moreover conduct a hands-on analysis of how to deal with ethical aspects of health empowerment and self-monitoring, precision medicine implementation and crossover clinical research, information comprehension and dynamic consent, privacy management and data portability, rights not to know and to be forgotten, incidental findings and return of results.

The Ph.D.-candidate will closely collaborate with the project team. The main work will be analytical and argumentative, but may include empirical ethics assessments through surveys and interviews with stakeholders. The successful candidate is expected to present work in progress in research group meetings and at workshops and conferences throughout the project period.

Qualification requirements

PhD candidate:

The PhD-position's main objective is to qualify for work in research positions. The qualification requirement is completion of a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) with a strong academic background in [subject area] or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. Applicants with no letter grades from previous studies must have an equally good academic foundation. Applicants who are unable to meet these criteria may be considered only if they can document that they are particularly suitable candidates for education leading to a PhD degree.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, postdoctor and research assistant

Qualification requirements:

  • A master’s degree or equivalent education within the field of philosophy, ethics (including applied ethics, bioethics, or medical ethics), medicine and/or other relevant fields, with a weighted-average grade of B or higher, in accordance with NTNU’s grading system
  • Competence and interest in normative ethical analyses of medico-ethical problems
  • Written and oral fluency in English

Emphasis can also be placed on:

  • Prior academic output
  • Prior relevant job experience
  • Fluency in one of the Scandinavian languages
  • Level of competence in digital technologies
  • High motivation for both disciplinary and multidisciplinary research cooperation

Personal characteristics

  • Communication abilities
  • Motivation and personal aptitude
  • Ability to work and write both independently and in a team

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, as well as motivation, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in the advertisement

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD Candidates (code 1017) are remunerated with a gross annual salary of minimum NOK 449 400. Depending on qualifications and academic background the salary can range between NOK 449 400 – 505, 800.  In addition to taxes, a further 2% is deducted for the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The appointment will be made in accordance with current regulations and supplementary rules with guidelines for employment as PhD Candidate appointments at universities and university colleges in Norway.  Admission to a doctoral degree programme is a requirement for employment as a PhD candidate.  See:

The period of employment is 3 years (without required duties). Appointment takes place on the terms that apply to State employees at any time, and after the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. If necessary, we will adapt the workplace for people with disabilities.
Increasing the number of women in academic positions is an important priority for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, we
especially encourage women to apply for these positions.

For further information about the position:

Associate Professor Lars Ursin, email:, telephone: +47 73 59 75 58

For enquires regarding the application procedure:

HR Consultant Anne-Britt Hofstad, email:, telephone: +47 73 59 75 67

About the application:

Publications and other academic works that the applicant would like to be considered in the evaluation must accompany the application. Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify the individual applicant's contribution to joint works, the applicant must include a brief description of his or her contribution.

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Chosen applicants will be invited to undergo an interview. Applicants invited for interview must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters.

The following documents must be attached to the online application:

  • A 1-page cover letter explaining your motivation for this position, and how your skills and experience relate to the research project
  • A 2-page description of your previous work and academic interests
  • A 2-page draft research proposal outlining a possible approach
  • CV, including (only if applicable) a list of publications, English language test scores, and other supporting documents (like proof of the candidates’ study and language abilities)
  • Relevant transcripts of grades, diplomas, and certificates
  • Contact information of 1-2 persons of reference, preferably academic supervisor(s)

Candidates from universities outside Norway are requested to send a Diploma Supplement or similar official document, which describes in detail the study and grade system and the rights for further studies associated with the obtained degree:

Candidates from non-English speaking countries outside the Nordic countries must provide official documentation of their English competence. Approved tests and results are:

  • TOEFL: 600 / writing 4.5 (paper-based test), 92 / writing 22 (internet- based test)
  • IELTS: 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5 (only Academic IELTS tests accepted)
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) or Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): grade A or B

Please refer to the application number 164095 when applying.

Application deadline: 15.03.2019

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Deadline 15.03.2019
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Jobbnorge ID 164095