PhD Scholarship in Medical Science Testing A Unifying Molecular Pathology Theory for Autism Spectrum Disorder

University of Gothenburg, Sweden has an opening PhD position in medical sciences. The funds for this position are available for four years. This position is closed on December 03, 2019.

The Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry is located at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at the Faculty of Health Care Sciences at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg. At the Department research is conducted on human behaviour, neuropsychiatric processes as well as psychiatric treatment and diagnosis in close collaboration with Vstra Gtaland region and a number of international partners. We participate in the undergraduate programmes in Medicine and withinThe National Research School in Psychiatry/Southwest Sweden. At the Department there are some 15 research groups and four research centers.

The PhD educationin Medical Science comprisecarrying out a scientific project and completing at least 30 credits of courses at third-cycle level. The doctoral student must also write a scientific compilation thesis or monograph corresponding to at least 120 credits. For more information about third-cycle studies at Sahlgrenska Academy, see

Project: Understanding and treating autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is still an unmet challenge despite the high prevalence of this disorder. Abnormalities in eye-contact are one of the diagnostic criteria of ASD, and individuals with ASD report that looking in the eyes is very stressful. Here, we propose to test that an abnormal excitatory/inhibitory (E/I) balance may be not only at the basis of abnormal eye contact, but also the key molecular substrate of ASD, explaining deficits in social communication and social interaction, as well as common clinical co-morbidities (e.g. epilepsy, hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, anxiety, desire for sameness).

To test this unifying model, based on our previous research and strong preliminary data, we will address the following questions, using a multimodal approach in well-characterized patients with ASD and controls: (1) are individuals with ASD objectively hypersensitive to eye contact? (biosensors); (2) Can we restore E/I balance with Bumetanide, known to reduce internal chloride and restore GABAergic inhibitory role, and by so-doing decrease this hypersensitivity, ultimately re-establish normal face and emotion processing? (double blind randomized 6-month treatment).If confirmed, our model may support the development of new behavioural and pharmacological approaches to treat ASD. We believe that the project is an excellent opportunity to include a doctoral project, as it will result in four studies addressing the pathophysiology and the treatment of autism from different, complementary perspectives. Third-cycle studies are equivalent to four year full-time and lead to a Degree of Doctor. Those appointed to doctoral studentships shall primarily devote themselves to their studies. Those appointed to doctoral studentships may, however, work to a limited extent with educational tasks, research and administration (departmental duties). Before a PhD degree has been awarded,duties of this kind may not comprise more than 20 per cent of a full-time post.

To be eligible for third-cycle studies, the applicant must meet both the general and specific entry requirements.

for third-cycle studiesif he or she:

1. has been awarded a second-cycle qualification 2. has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second-cycle, or 3. has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad for third-cycle studiesin Medical Science if he or she: has successfully completed the English B/6 course or is considered to have acquired equivalent knowledge through previous studies

In selecting between applicants who meet the general and specific entry requirements, their ability to benefit from third-cycle studies shall be taken into account. The assessment shall attach particular importance to documented qualifications for:

– specific knowledge and skills within the subject area and related research fields – experience of scientific theory and relevant research methodology – scientific analysis and presentation verified through thesis, degree project, scientific journals or the like. Documented experiencein the form of recruitment and assessment of patients with autism and other neuropsychiatric impairments is desirable, together with experience in research methodology in the fields of psychology and neurosciences, with emphasis on clinical neurodevelopmental sciences.

After admission tothird-cyclestudies you will be appointedtodoctoral studentship. Regulations for employment of doctoral students are given in SFS 1993:100. The initial appointment may apply for no longer than one year. An appointment may be renewed for no more than two years at a time. A person may beappointed to a doctoral studentship for a total ofeight years. The total employment period may, however, not exceed the time corresponding to full-time third-cycle study for four years.

Location: Sahlgrenska Academy, Institute ofNeuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry.Extent:100%. First day of employment: as agreed.

Salaries for doctoral students are regulated in a local agreement at the University.

Principal supervisorNouchine Hadjikhani,Professor,e-mail:

Assistant supervisor Jakob sberg Johnels, Associate Professor, e-mail:

Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg:

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline.

You must include the following, in pdf format

If your degree is from a university outside of Sweden, check what you need to submit at where you can also see what you need to submit in order to fulfill the English language requirement.

The University of Gothenburg promotes equal opportunities, equality and diversity.

Applications will be destroyed or returned (upon request) two years after the decision of employment has become final. Applications from the employed and from those who appeal the decision will not be returned.


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