PhD fellowship in Uncovering the Genetic Link between Food Intake and Addiction



We are offering a PhD scholarship in Uncovering the Genetic Link between Food Intake and Addiction commencing August 1, 2019.

Our group and research
The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) was established in 2010 to conduct fundamental research on metabolism. It is part of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. The Center has around 200 employees from all over the world. The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research represents a highly international research environment characterised by teamwork and collaborations across a range of biomedical disciplines. Its employees moved into new laboratories, offices and meeting rooms in the Maersk Tower in summer 2017. You can read more about us at

The Kilpeläinen Group investigates how genetic variation contributes to obesity and related metabolic disorders and interacts with the environment, modifying the effect of physical activity, diet, and other lifestyle factors on weight gain and metabolic health. The overarching goal of the group is to provide key biological insights and seek ways for translating genetic discoveries to target preventive and treatment strategies with increased precision. You can read more at:

Project description
The reward system of the brain plays a critical role in the regulation of food intake, but also in the development of addictions towards stimulants such as alcohol and nicotine. Evidence from recent studies suggests that there may be overlapping biological pathways within the reward system between individuals with obesity and those susceptible for developing addictions. This has raised a hypothesis about the existence of shared genetic mechanisms between food intake and addiction. Genetic studies provide new opportunities for identifying such overlapping mechanisms, by identifying specific genes and biological pathways that are linked to both addiction and obesity. The aim of the present project is to assess whether addiction and obesity are genetically linked, identify the specific genes that are involved, and the impact of these genes on the sensitivity of the brain towards rewarding stimuli.

Principal supervisor is Associate Professor Tuomas Kilpeläinen, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, E-mail:

Start: August 1, 2019.
Duration: 3 years as a PhD student

Job description
Your key tasks as a PhD student at SUND are:

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
  • Participate in active, interdisciplinary research environments including a stay at another research team
  • Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Teach and disseminate your research
  • Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project

Key criteria for the assessment of candidates
Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree related to the subject area of the project e.g. biomedical sciences, molecular biomedicine, or molecular biology, and experience on analyzing human genetic data as well as working with in vivo Caenorhabditis elegans and mouse models, including a FELASA ABD certificate.

Other important criteria are:

  • Additional professional qualifications relevant to the PhD programme, including statistical analysis methods, experience on clinical studies, working with cell cultures etc.
  • Prior knowledge in metabolic research
  • Previous publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other professional activities
  • Experience with working in an international environment
  • Skills in interdisciplinary research work
  • Fluent English language skills

Place of employment
The place of employment is at Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. Our research facilities include modern laboratories, bioinformatic and statistic guidance, and access to big data from multiple cohorts.

Terms of employment and employment
The employment as PhD fellow is a full time and for 3 years. Starting date is August 1, 2019.

The appointment as a PhD fellow is for 3 years. It is conditioned upon the candidate’s success­ful enrolment in the PhD school at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the candidate.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the University’s rules on achieving the degree. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agree­ment between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around 26.755 DKK /approx. 3.567 EUR (April 2018-level) plus pension.

For specific information about the PhD scholarship, please contact the principal supervisor.

General information about PhD programs at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website:

Application procedure
Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format:

1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)

2. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position

3. A certified/signed copy of Master of Science certificate. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do

4. Publication list (if possible)

Application deadline: May 23, 2019, 23.59pm CET
We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.
Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

You can read about the recruitment process at

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7500 students, 1500 PhD students and 3200 employees. The Faculty advances the field of health sciences through its core activities: research, teaching, knowledge sharing and communication. With basic research fields ranging from molecular studies to studies of society, the Faculty contributes to a healthy future through its graduates, research findings and inventions benefitting patients and the community. The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

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Telefon: 35327250
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