Two PhD Fellowships within Meta-Omics Analyses of Human Gut Microbiome

Deadline: 19.05.2021

UiT The Arctic University of Norway

UiT – Developing the High North

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is a multi-campus research university and the northernmost university of the world. Our central location in the High North, our broad and diverse research and study portfolio, and our interdisciplinary qualities make us uniquely suited to meet the challenges of the future. At UiT you can explore global issues from a close-up perspective.

Credibility, academic freedom, closeness, creativity and commitment shall be hallmarks of the relationship between our employees, between our employees and our students and between UiT and our partners.

The Faculty of Health Sciences

The Faculty of Health Sciences represents a newly created entity gathering almost all possible health study programs. This facilitates an unique interdisciplinarity and innovation in health education and research. We work closely with the services in the North to solve tomorrow's challenges.

Faculty of Health Sciences

The position

Two PhD positions are available at the Department of Medical Biology (IMB), Faculty of Health Sciences. The Research Group for Host-Microbe Interactions (HMI) is searching for motivated and innovative PhD Fellows to conduct interdisciplinary research projects in the field of the human microbiome and meta-omics analyses.

The workplace is at UiT in Tromsø. You must be able to start in the position within a reasonable time after receiving the offer.

The positions are for a period of four years. The nominal length of the PhD programme is three years. The fourth year is distributed as 25 % each year and will consist of teaching and other duties. The duties will be allocated based on the applicants' qualifications and the needs of the department and may include teaching, supervising or assisting in lab courses. Other relevant tasks may also be included.

The objective of the position is to complete research training to the level of a doctoral degree. Admission to the PhD programme is a prerequisite for employment, and the programme period starts on commencement of the position.

The Department of Medical Biology (IMB)

Department of Medical Biology (IMB) will be the workplace for the candidates. More than 180 staff members from all over the world have their workplace at IMB. The department consists of 13 research groups concentrated on fundamental biomedical research problems, including research on various forms of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, the immune system, host-microbe interactions, and antibiotic resistance. IMB also takes part in marine bioprospecting and in the development of new medicines. As part of an extensive cooperation network that includes both Norwegian and international partners, the department chairs and participates in a number of projects funded by the European Union and the Research Council of Norway. The positions are affiliated with the Research group for Host-Microbe Interactions (HMI) and the Centre for New Antibacterial Strategies (CANS).

The main emphasis of the department's teaching is related to the medicine and odontology programs, a bachelor's program in bioengineering, as well as on bachelor's, master's and doctoral level in biomedicine. IMB also contributes to education of students of nutrition, paramedics, radiography and nursing. The department also hosts the Advanced Microscopy Core Facility (KAM) and Tromsø University Proteomics Platform (TUPP).

The positions' field of research

The successful candidates will be an essential part of a multidisciplinary team headed by Assoc. Prof. Veronika K. Pettersen. Dr. Pettersen's research explores mechanisms involved in intestinal colonization resistance and the role of microbial proteins and metabolites in preventing colonization with antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) pathogens. By using DNA-sequencing, metabolomic and proteomic approaches, the team characterises samples from human studies and investigates causality and mechanisms in relevant experimental models. The research goal is to inform prevention strategies tailored to eradicate the carriage of AMR strains before invasive infection occurs.

The aims of the advertised positions are to describe and compare gut microbial populations, AMR gene carriage, and metabolites in samples from infants receiving antibiotic therapy and/or probiotic supplementation. The research leverages two infant cohort studies. First is a randomized clinical trial co-led by the members of the Paediatric Research group in Tromsø (UiT/University Hospital of North Norway) that investigates the effects of probiotic therapy in Tanzanian children and its potential to prevent infections by extended-spectrum beta-lactamase-producing Enterobacterales. In a study of Norwegian infants, Dr. Pettersen also investigates how the early life gut microbiome and metabolome is affected by antibiotic treatment. The latter study is a collaborative project between the Paediatric Research group and Nordland Central Hospital in Bodø. The successful candidates will determine the infants fecal metabolome and integrate the information with the DNA sequencing data. The candidates will also use several in vitro and in vivo experimental models to describe biochemical interactions between relevant commensal gut bacteria and AMR pathogens.


For further information about the position, please contact:

Associate Professor Veronika K. Pettersen:

or Associate Professor Terje Vasskog (for PhD position #1):

or Researcher Erik Hjerde (for PhD position #2):


For both positions, completion of a Master’s degree in the life sciences or other educations that have been approved as equivalent is required. Qualification with a Master’s degree is required before commencement in the position. If you are near completion of your Master’s degree, you may still apply and submit a draft version of the thesis. You must document completion of your degree before commencement in the position.

We are seeking candidates with a high degree of self-motivation and able to work independently in a structured manner. Both a strong academic record and a genuine interest in conducting research are essential to qualify for the position. The candidates Master’s thesis, academic record, and other application materials must demonstrate this, as well as good communication and collaboration skills. We will emphasize personal suitability in our assessment.

Applicants must document fluency of in English and be able to work in an international environment.

For PhD position #1, successful candidate should hold a Master's degree in chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, biotechnology, environmental sciences, or related fields. For PhD position #2, successful candidate should hold a Master's degree in systems biology, computational biology, bioinformatics, or a related discipline. In addition, applicants must document experience in at least two of these to qualify:

PhD position #1

  • Hands-on experience with mass spectrometry analyses
  • Experience in metabolomics or proteomics workflows, including sample preparation and data analyses, is seen as an advantage
  • A specialization and documented experience in microbiology or molecular biology is desirable
  • Experience in bioinformatics will be evaluated as advantageous

PhD position #2

  • Fluent programming skills in at least one language (e.g., R, Python, Bash)
  • Experience in bioinformatics processing and analysis of DNA data
  • Experience in statistical methods in the context of biological systems.
  • A knowledge of methods for microbial community DNA extraction and shotgun metagenomic sequencing would be an added value

Tasks and responsibilities of the PhD fellows will include the design, organization, execution of the experiments, analysis and interpretation. They will communicate the results to the supervisors, present data on local and international meetings, and write scientific papers.

As many as possible should have the opportunity to undertake organized research training. If you already hold a PhD or have equivalent competence, we will not appoint you to this position.

Admission to the PhD programme

For employment in the PhD position, you must be qualified for admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Health Sciences and participate in organized doctoral studies within the employment period.

Admission normally requires:

  • A bachelor's degree of 180 ECTS and a master's degree of 120 ECTS, or an integrated master's degree of 300 ECTS.
  • A master's thesis with a scope corresponding to at least 30 ECTS for a master's degree of 120 ECTS.
  • A master's thesis with a scope corresponding to at least 20 ECTS for an integrated master's degree of 300 ECTS.

Applicants must have a grade of C or better on the master's thesis and have a grade point average of C or better for the master's degree. A more detailed description of admission requirements can be found here.

Applicants with a foreign education will be subjected to an evaluation of whether the educational background is equal to Norwegian higher education, following national guidelines from NOKUT. Depending on which country the education is from, one or two additional years of university education may be required to fulfil admission requirements, e.g. a 4-year bachelor's degree and a 2-year master's degree.

If you are employed in the position, you will be provisionally admitted to the PhD programme. Application for final admission must be submitted no later than two months after taking up the position.

Inclusion and diversity

UiT The Arctic University i Norway is working actively to promote equality, gender balance and diversity among employees and students, and to create an inclusive and safe working environment. We believe that inclusion and diversity is a strength and we want employees with different competencies, professional experience, life experience and perspectives.

If you have a disability, a gap in your CV or immigrant background, we encourage you to tick the box for this in your application. If there are qualified applicants, we invite least one in each group for an interview. If you get the job, we will adapt the working conditions if you need it. Apart from selecting the right candidates, we will only use the information for anonymous statistics.

We offer

  • Involvement in an interesting research project
  • Career development programmes
  • Vibrant international academic environment.
  • Flexible working hours and a state collective pay agreement 
  • Pension scheme through the state pension fund 
  • Beautiful artic surroundings of Tromsø with rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities
  • More practical information for working and living in Norway can be found here: https://uit.no/staffmobility


Your application must include:

  • Cover letter explaining your motivation and research interests
  • CV
  • Diploma for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Transcript of grades/academic record for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Explanation of the grading system for foreign education (Diploma Supplement if available)
  • Documentation of English proficiency
  • Two references with contact information
  • Master’s thesis, and any other academic works

Qualification with a master’s degree is required before commencement in the position. If you are near completion of your master’s degree, you may still apply and submit a draft version of the thesis and a statement from your supervisor or institution indicating when the degree will be obtained. You must document completion of your degree before commencement in the position. You must still submit your transcripts for the master’s degree with your application.

All documentation to be considered must be in a Scandinavian language or English. Diplomas and transcripts must also be submitted in the original language, if not in English or Scandinavian. We only accept applications and documentation sent via Jobbnorge within the application deadline.

General information

The appointment is made in accordance with State regulations and guidelines at UiT. At our website, you will find more information for applicants.

A shorter period of appointment may be decided when the PhD Fellow has already completed parts of their research training programme or when the appointment is based on a previous qualifying position PhD Fellow, research assistant, or the like in such a way that the total time used for research training amounts to three years.

Remuneration for the position of PhD Fellow is in accordance with the State salary scale code 1017 . A compulsory contribution of 2 % to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund will be deducted.

We process personal data given in an application or CV in accordance with the Personal Data Act (Offentleglova). According to the Personal Data Act information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure. You will receive advance notification in the event of such publication, if you have requested non-disclosure.

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