Karolinska Institutet, Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology

We are recruiting a student for doctoral education.

For more information regarding doctoral (PhD) education, see: http://www.ki.se/doctoral.

Research group
The successful applicant will be part of a young, multidisciplinary and highly collaborative research team. The Ribacke lab studies host-parasite interactions and in particular how the lethal malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum adapts to changes within the human host and vice versa. The research is particularly focused on understanding gene regulatory mechanisms within the parasite that mediate phenotypic plasticity, with the ultimate goal to identify new targets for pharmaceutical intervention. This work involves exploration of the role of parasite coding- and non-coding RNA and RNA binding proteins in vitro and in vivo. These are interrogated using global transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics approaches along-side experimental genetics, biochemical, molecular and cell biological methods. The group uses an integrative and collaborative approach and works closely with both national and international research groups. Collaborators of particular importance include scientists from malaria endemic countries, such as Rwanda and Uganda, since much of the work is carried out using patient samples, which is key for the clinical relevance of the research.
The laboratory is located in the newly established Biomedicum building on the Karolinska Institutet campus in Stockholm. Biomedicum is an ultramodern, purpose-built facility for experimental medical research that offers an attractive research environment and provides state-of the-art instrumentation, advanced technology platforms and core facilities. It hosts the five largest biomedical research departments at Karolinska Institute and brings scientific activities of separate disciplines close together, which creates unique opportunities for collaboration and crossover research.

The doctoral education project and the duties of the student
The PhD studies correspond to 4 years of full-time studies. This includes design and execution of experiments, methodological development, courses, seminars and literature review. Other duties include bioinformatic and statistical data analysis, presentation of results at scientific meetings and drafting of manuscripts.
A central obstacle to malaria eradication efforts is the remarkable ability of the malaria parasite to rapidly adapt to changes within the human host. It has recently been shown that a vital component of this adaptation is a rapid onset of epigenetic, gene-regulatory changes that mediate phenotypic plasticity. This phenotypic plasticity is essential and allow the parasite to survive long enough for genetic variation to occur, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. The research program for this position focuses on the role of noncoding RNA and RNA binding proteins in this adaptation.
The PhD candidate will be involved in the collection and cultivation of clinical P. falciparum parasite samples and apply genome-wide approaches to study the processing, regulation and gene-regulatory roles of non-coding RNA within these parasites. The candidate will also generate transgenic parasites using the CRISPR/Cas system and use various molecular biology and biochemical methods for validation and for RNA-protein interaction analyses. The holder of the position is expected to take a strong lead and be involved in the design, implementation, analysis and interpretation of the project and will collaborate with other team members, both within and outside of the lab. The candidate is also expected to communicate scientific findings in meetings and by writing papers to be published in peer-reviewed journals.
The main supervisor of the project is Assistant Professor Ulf Ribacke. The PhD candidate will be working with postdoctoral researchers in the Ribacke lab and will be co-supervised by Professor Mats Wahlgren (MTC).  

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:

  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
  1. 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:

State here any other formal entry requirements, beside the above, that an applicant must have to be considered for this project.

Skills and personal qualities
We are looking for an enthusiastic and highly motivated candidate with a degree in Medicine, Biomedicine, Molecular biology, Genetics, Biochemistry or similar. Proven experience in eukaryotic RNA biology, gene regulation, transcriptomics, tissue culture and the CRISPR/Cas system are desirable. An ideal applicant should have a strong experimental background in molecular biology, be collaborative, scientifically adventurous, curiosity-driven and should bring independent and original ideas to the project. The candidate should also be meticulous, honest, perceptive and responsive. Prior experiences in work with Plasmodium falciparum, RNA purification and analysis, molecular cloning, bioinformatics and programming are assets. Since the candidate will work in a strongly collaborative context, ability to work with others and excellent communication skills (both spoken and written) are required.

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.

Type of employment PhD placement
Contract type Full time
First day of employment enl. ök
Reference number 2-3311/2018
  • Ulf Ribacke, PhD, ulf.ribacke@ki.se
Union representative
  • Niklas Andersson, OFR, niklas.andersson@ki.se
  • Daisy Hjelmqvist SACO, daisy.hjelmqvist@ki.se
  • Henry Wölling, SEKO, henry.wolling@ki.se
Published 18.Jun.2018
Last application date 17.Jul.2018 11:59 PM CET

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