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PhD student position in medical science - Oxytocin and social behaviours in zebrafish

University of Gothenburg. Göteburg (Schweden), 11.11.2016

PhD student position in medical science -
Oxytocin and social behaviours in zebrafish

Type of employment: Fixed-term employment, 4 years
Extent: 100 %
Location: Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg
First day of employment: As agreed
Reference number: UR 2016/946

Project title
The oxytocin receptor: A drug target for autism?

Job assignments
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are characterised by difficulties with social interactions, communication and repetitive behaviours, and unfortunately there is no effective treatment for these symptoms. Hundreds of genes and a number of environmental factors have been identified as contributing factors to developing ASD. The neuropeptide oxytocin affects social behaviour in many species and it has been suggested that endogenous oxytocin may play a role in the pathophysiology of autism. Furthermore, it has been indicated that oxytocin treatment alleviates autism symptoms by increasing an individuals‘ social attention. However, the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the effects of oxytocin remain to be investigated in experimental animal models. Our research group has in recent years established behavioural models and neuroanatomical methods allowing us to investigate social behaviour, neuroanatomy and molecular mechanisms in zebrafish.

The current PhD project comprises studies of how oxytocin affects social behaviour in zebrafish. The PhD candidate will also be engaged in neuroanatomical studies in order to identify the expression of oxytocin receptors in the zebrafish brain. Furthermore, the neurobiological mechanisms that mediate the effects of oxytocin will be explored by molecular as well as imaging methods. In order to evaluate the clinical potential of oxytocin we will also investigate zebrafish mutants, lacking specific genes that in human genetic studies have been shown to cause or greatly increase the risk of autism.

This PhD project will be conducted at the Department of Pharmacology which is a research intensive workplace, including ample opportunities for interaction with other research groups within the field of pharmacology, psychiatry, neurobiology and neuropharmacology. The PhD-student will also have close contact with researchers from other institutions and universities in Sweden and abroad.

We are looking for a candidate with a strong interest in the neurobiology of social behaviour and autism. A suitable candidate has a solid knowledge of neuroscience and experience of behavioural or neuroanatomical studies. Good communication and presentation skills, scientific integrity, and personal suitability with the rest of the research team are merited.

The applicants should motivate why they find the project interesting and suitable for their own education. The PhD position comprises 4 years full-time studies and leads to a doctoral degree. The position is funded via doctoral studentship.

To be admitted to third-cycle studies you must fulfill both the general and the specific entry requirements. The general entry requirements is fulfilled if you have:
1. completed a degree at a second-cycle level, or
2. completed at least 240 credits worth of studies of which at least 60 credits must be at a second-cycle level, or
3. acquired equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

The specific entry requirements is fulfilled if you have completed the English B/6 course or is considered to have acquired equivalent knowledge through previous studies.

Regulations for the evaluation of qualifications for education on a doctoral level are given in SFS 1998:80.

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.

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

For more information about the project please contact the project supervisor, contact information can be found on the top right corner.

For more information regarding PhD education at the Sahlgrenska academy visit

If you have technical difficulties or questions regarding the application database contact

Related information

For further information please contact

Lars Westberg, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology

Labour union

OFR/S: Peter Brandt
+46 31 786 1169

SACO: Catrine Folcker
+46 31 786 4234

SEKO: Lennart Olsson
+46 31 786 1173

Closing date

Appointment Procedure
Please apply by clicking "Apply online".

Attach verified copies of your education and English proficiency proving your eligibility.

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

Apply online

Bewerbungsschluss: 02.12.2016