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PhD Candidate immunology and rheumatology


Job Information

University of Helsinki
Faculty of Medicine
Research Field
Biological sciences
Biological sciences » Biology
Medical sciences
Medical sciences » Medicine
Researcher Profile
First Stage Researcher (R1)
Application Deadline
Type of Contract
Job Status
Hours Per Week
Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?
Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?

Offer Description

We are looking for an excellent PhD Candidate to work in the field of immunology and rheumatology diseases in a HORIZON-EUROPE Consortium.

You will be part of multidisciplinary team in 4-year HORIZON-EUROPE Consortium project starting in January 2023 composed of top leading universities in Europe.

HORIZON-EUROPE Consortium project, main aim is to explore the relationship between gut microbiota, intestinal permeability, and systemic endotoxemia (SE). Further we aim to understand their role as drivers of disease onset and disease activity in osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and spondylarthritis (SpA), as well as targets of preventive and therapeutic approaches. We will study the events leading to disease onset by i) taking advantage of geographically diverse large cohorts of people with available blood and feces samples with extended follow up times before the onset of the diseases of interest. ii) conducting targeted clinical studies, which will allow searching for links between microbiota, intestinal inflammation, intestinal permeability and SE by applying high-end immunological, gene expression and pathology based studies iii) performing in vitro mechanistic studies to explore the gut-joint axis using highly sophisticated methods, such as computational chemistry studies & organ on chip models of intestinal and joint tissue, allowing us to study proinflammatory potential of LPS derived from different bacterial strains to modify the intestinal permeability and to induce chronic inflammation (CI) in joint tissues; iv) performing interventional proof of concept studies with patients with RA and SpA to asses possibilities to reduce SE through diet changes, altering the intestinal microbiota by fecal transplantation, or reducing the intestinal permeability using targeted drugs.

Your main research objectives/activities will include: (1) To explore the role of intestinal permeability in development of systemic endotoxemia (SE) and in the risk of RA, SpA, and OA.; (2) To discover novel biomarkers and proteomic profiles for intestinal dysbiosis, SE, and RA, SpA and OA; (3) To characterize the inflammatory and metabolic effects of diverse gut-derived LPS/bacteria on immune cells of cells the synovial joint; (4) Quantification and structural characterization of LPS in serum and synovial fluid of RA and OA patients

The Consortium: Coordinator HUS Helsinki University Hospital (Finland), University of Helsinki (Finland), University of Tartu, University of Campania “L. Vanvitelli”, University of Lisbon (Portugal), Health Research Institute of Santiago de Compostela Foundation (Spain), Technical University of Vienna (Austria), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) (Switzerland), Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (Switzerland), European Biomedical Research Institute of Salerno (Italy), NEC Laboratories Europe GmbH (Germany), Steinbeis 2i GmbH (Germany).

In our group you will have an opportunity to gain knowledge in immunology, use versatile analysis methods, do data analysis, learn scientific communication and develop your own collaboration network. We offer you a motivating working environment in a multidisciplinary research group, supervisors who are ready to guide you in your journey to an independent researcher. You will work along with other researchers and laboratory technicians from the Helsinki Rheumatic Diseases & Inflammation Group, and our extensive international collaboration network with profound knowledge of the latest state-of-the-art analysis methods, clinical and animal studies, along with bioinformatics and computational modelling. The lab research funders include Horizon Europe, Academy of Finland, Jane & Aatos Erkko Foundation, HUS, Orton, and Finnish Cultural Foundation.

The ideal candidate has an MSc degree in a life-science-related field but applicable other degrees are also considered. You should have strong skills in immunology and biomarker validation, excellent merits in your studies and demonstrated skills in theoretical and/or experimental work during your MSc thesis. The position involves the use of high-throughput screenings (HTS) for cell reporter cell lines, and biomarker discovery, hence experience on these subjects, is considered an advantage.

While not mandatory, a bonus is to have bioinformatics' kills, especially in transcriptomics and/or microbiome data analysis. The candidate should be ready and capable to work experimentally with biosafety level 2 wet-lab environment. If you have not graduated yet, you should obtain your MSc degree during the Fall 2022. The earliest anticipated starting date is 1st January 2023 and applicants being able to start the project early may have an advantage in the selection process.


You communicate clearly and have excellent interpersonal skills. You can work both independently and as a part of the team. You demonstrate a high level of enthusiasm and commitment to academic research. You will work along with other researchers from the Helsinki Rheumatic Diseases & Inflammation Group at Helsinki University Hospital. Our lab is part of the Translational Immunology Program (TRIMM), and we´re located at Biomedicum Helsinki 1 in Meilähti campus (Haartmaninkatu 8).

The lab research funders include Horizon Europe, Academy of Finland, Jane & Aatos Erkko Foundation, HUS, Orton, and Finnish Cultural Foundation.

The salary level is fixed to departmental levels based on Helsinki University Hospital tables. The time to complete the PhD is four years, once accepted to the doctoral programme. For more information visit doctoral education website from the Faculty Medicine.

Application should be sent to

Please, provide the following as separate documents along with your application:

  • 1-page motivation letter specific to this call
  • CV with a possible list of publications
  • Transcript of records
  • Your MSc thesis
  • List of references and reference letters


For more information, please contact postdoctoral researchers goncalo.barreto(a) and :katariina.nurmi(a) To learn more about our lab, please visit our webpage

The call is open until 15th December, 2022 and all applications will be reviewed within 10 days of the closing date.


Additional Information

Work Location(s)

Number of offers available
Helsinki University Hospital
Postal Code
Haartmaninkatu 8

Where to apply



Haartmaninkatu 8
Postal Code