Background:
We are looking for a new colleague – a driven PhD student with previous experience gained from the pharmaceutical or biotech industry. The successful candidate will be given an exciting opportunity to develop novel in vitro assays and methods for mimicking the interactions of pathological tissue with sensory neurons that occur in chronic pain. The resulting knowledge gained during the study may pave the way for new therapeutic options for the millions of people suffering from chronic pain.

The PhD position is financed by the EU via a Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN-ETN action: The BonePainII network encompasses academic and industrial partners committed to create an outstanding training program for early stage researchers (ESRs). The students will obtain interdisciplinary, state-of-the-art training e.g. by secondments with industrial and academic partners, including some of the foremost pain researchers in Europe, within the network. The overall goal for the BonePain network is to train ESRs to become highly skilled and innovative researchers and provide ESRs with expertise that will maximise their future employability and strengthen their career possibilities. This will be achieved by integrated, yet individual research projects, where the ESRs will develop new technologies, identify novel targets, and apply a wide range of cutting-edge techniques to ultimately cure chronic pain.

PhD project outline:
The successful candidate will participate in the development of novel in vitro assays, methods and technologies to mimic the interactions of a pathological bone environment with sensory neurons. Example technologies are microfluidic-based, compartmentalised chambers for creation of “disease in a dish” systems and high throughput assays. Subsequently, the developed methodologies, in addition to Cellectricon’s established models, will be used to investigate novel biomarkers of osteoarthritis (OA) pain and for drug screening to identify compounds that may be developed into therapeutics for patients suffering from bone pain.

During the project, the candidate will develop and validate plate-based co-culture systems between DRG neurons and for example macrophages or osteoclasts to understand the interactions between nociceptors with different types of non-neuronal cells relevant for bone pain. Moreover, it will be investigated how antibody-driven activation of macrophages or osteoclasts modulate DRG neuronal excitability and how this can be manipulated pharmacologically.

The company:
Cellectricon is a collaborative services provider dedicated to advance drug discovery and research in the areas of chronic pain and neurodegenerative disease. We are a team of highly experienced neurobiologists, stem cell researchers and engineers, with a proven track record of developing innovative in vitro assays of enhanced translational value for our clients.

What sets us apart from the competition is our proprietary discovery platform. In collaboration with leading academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies, we have over the last 10 years continuously refined and validated our patented core technology to a point where we feel we can establish testing paradigms that are impossible to recreate with other methods. We excel at the generation of high quality primary neuronal cell cultures from e.g. peripheral ganglia, spinal cord and brain, as well as from human iPSC-derived neurons. Our assays fill the gap between less complex model systems, such as high throughput screening in over-expressing cell lines, and in vivo animal models and are enabling our clients to better prioritize which molecules to advance into the clinic.

Qualifications required:
The successful PhD candidate must at the end of 2018 hold a master’s degree in a relevant scientific discipline (e.g. biomedicine, biotechnology, biomedical engineering, natural sciences or pharmacy).

The candidate must have a minimum of six-to-twelve months experience from an industrial setting (pharmaceutical or biotech company) with hands-on experience and knowledge of the drug discovery process (such as assay development, drug screening in in vitro or in vivo models).

The candidate is expected to be highly motivated, to have good verbal and written English skills and excellent interpersonal and cooperation skills to be able to work on collaborative, challenging research projects that ultimately have commercial utility.

Further, it is desirable that the candidate has a strong interest in neurobiology/neuroscience and has previous experience from cell culturing and primary cell-based assays. Also, experience from assay development and high throughput screening activities (including compound logistics and liquid handling) is desired.

Formal requirements and eligibility:
At the time of commencement, it is required that the candidate has not been awarded a PhD degree and is within the first 4 years (full-time equivalent) of his/her research career. Furthermore, the candidate must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Sweden for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to recruitment (more information available here).

Position:
The candidate will be employed by and working at Cellectricon, Gothenburg, Sweden and will be registered at the Karolinska Institutet (KI) and affiliated with professor Camilla Svensson’s group. The graduate program covers four years of full-time study. The salary will be set according to local agreements for PhD students in accordance with the rules and regulations laid down by European Union’s Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Initial Training Networks.

Rules governing PhD candidates are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance Chapter 5, §§ 1-7 (available here) and in KI’s rules and guidelines. For more information regarding doctoral education at Karolinska Institutet (KI) follow the link.

Type of position:
Full time position up to four years.

How to apply:
Please send your application by email to info@cellectricon.com. The application should be written in English and include a cover letter describing the applicant’s research interests, a CV including a list of previous publications (if any), as well as copies of diplomas and certificates of higher academic degrees. Also include information about previous experience of research and why you would like to be enrolled as a PhD student with Cellectricon/Karolinska Institutet. Please also attach contact details (name, e-mail, phone number) to two referees and/or provide letters of recommendation. The call will remain open until December 15, 2018 or until the position is filled.