Doctoral (PhD) student position in cancer computational biology

Karolinska Institutet

Application deadline

April 24, 2022

Doctoral (PhD) student position in cancer computational biology

The Hausser lab researches quantitative principles in tumor biology. We do so along two research lines.

(1) Within a tumor, single cancer cells express different genes. These differences facilitate resistance against anti-cancer therapy because a given therapy may fail to eliminate the diversity of cancer cells. We are interested in mapping the evolutionary limits of this diversity, and in exploring how to exploit these limits to treat heterogeneous tumors.

(2) We research equations that state how key tumor properties relate to each other: cellular composition of the tumor, heterogeneity of cancer and immune cells found in the tumor, spatial organization, tumor growth rate, shedding rate of metastatic cells, and so on. Finding the laws of tumor biology has high potential for diagnostics, prognosis and to design immunotherapy, much like the laws of mechanics and aerodynamics presently support the design of cars and airplanes.

To do so, we perform cancer experiments in vitro and in vivo, we develop bioinformatics & data analysis, and articulate our findings into mathematical theory.

The lab is part of the department of Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB) is located in Biomedicum, a new interdisciplinary research center designed to concentrate much of the experimental research conducted at Karolinska Institutet Campus Solna under one roof to promote collaboration. Biomedicum houses approximately 1,200 researchers and other personnel and allows expensive equipment to be shared and utilised more effectively.

The doctoral student project and the duties of the doctoral student

You will investigate the interplay between the transcriptional heterogeneity of tumor cells, their fitness, and the spatial architecture of tumors. Specifically, what gene programs support the fitness of cancer cells in the different environments found in tumors? Can we formulate combination therapy that interfere with genes across environments to treat heterogeneous tumors?

To find out, you will analyze single-cell RNAseq and spatial transcriptomics data from patients. You will culture 3D tumor spheroids, perform single-cell RNAseq, CRISPR screening, flow cytometry and single cell sorting. You will use bioinformatics tools and multivariate statistics to analyze the data, as well as develop new approaches. You will articulate the patterns found into a mathematical theory. You will use the insight won to design treatments aimed at heterogeneous tumors, test these in vitro and validate them in vivo.

What do we offer?

Exciting science in a lab ideally positioned for you to learn how to do research at the interface between experimental and computational biology, in an area of direct medical relevance.

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 seek a student with a solid quantative education covering multi-variate calculus, linear algebra, ordinary and partial differential equations, dynamical systems theory, probability theory, at the level granted by a Masters-level education in computational biology, physics or engineering.
– The candidate should have a good team spirit and a keen interest in discovering quantitative principles in biology and in cancer.
– The candidate should be skilled in R and Python programming, be familiar with the Linux environment.
– Experience with multivariate statistics and mathematical modeling will be valued (within biology a plus).
– Prior practical experience with single-cell gene expression data, cancer and evolution is a strong plus.
– Familiarity with cell biology, cancer biology, immunology and practical experience with performing experiments on cells is a strong plus.
The student is required to have good communication skills in English (written and verbal). Ability to work in teams will be highly valued.

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 (1-2 pages) that includes answers to these questions: what course or projects did you most enjoyed in your studies so far, and why? If you could choose any topic, what would you like to work on in the future? What’s the most interesting research question you’ve worked on so far, what methods have you used to answer these questions, and what have you found?
– 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.

Type of employmentPhD placement
Contract typeFull time
First day of employmentAccording to agreement
SalaryMonthly salary
Number of positions1
Working hours100
CountyStockholms län
Reference numberSTÖD 2-1298/2022
ContactJean Hausser, PhD,,
Union representativeTaher Darreh-Shori, SACO, taher.darreh-shori@ki.seMagnus Anå, OFR, 08-52486437,magnus.ana@ki.seElisabeth Valenzuela, SEKO, 08-52486353
Last application date24.Apr.2022 11:59 PM CEST

Last updated: 2022-03-30

Content Responsible: Johan Inganni(