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Project title: Multi-modal neuroimaging to examine inter-induvidual differences in cognitive aging and their association with tau deposition

Job assignments

General information about third-cycle studies: The PhD education in Medical Science corresponds to studies of 240 credits in total. The studies are equivalent to four year full-time and lead to a Degree of Doctor. The studies comprise carrying 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 https://medarbetarportalen.gu.se/sahlgrenskaakademin/forskarutbildning/?languageId=100001

Project: Aging is accompanied by a decline in episodic memory and working-memory, and much of the extant research in the cognitive neurosciences of aging has focused on identifying the neural correlates of this decline. Despite the general trend, however, there are distinct and important individual differences in cognitive aging. The brain undergoes multiple structural changes across human lifespan that can be studied and visualized in vivo at different scales. With molecular imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET), specific changes on the molecular level such as aggregates of proteins can now also be visualized. 

Recent research using PET ligands that bind to hyperphosphorylated paired-helical filaments (PHF) of tau protein, has stipulated that tau aggregation follows distinct spatial and temporal patterns, confirming established knowledge from post mortem studies of brain tissue. It also validated in vivo that tau aggregation, particularly in MTL, is abundant in aging and not exclusive to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the importance of MTL tau deposition in relation to memory decline seen in normal cognitive aging is still unclear. A strong association between tau in MTL and memory impairment has been shown, strengthening the hypothesis that tau pathology plays a key role in memory decline in aging, which is also strongly related to dysfunction of MTL structures.

In this PhD project, we make use of recent developments of a second generation of tau PET ligands and leverage an existing longitudinal data set with rich information on retrospective cognitive change and MRI markers of brain aging (e.g. hippocampal atrophy and white matter integrity; BETULA study) to study how individual differences in quantity and regional distribution of tau deposition are associated with retrospective trajectories of cognitive change and brain integrity. Moreover, we aim to deliver methods to improve correction for inherent issues of unspecific binding and partial volume effects of tau PET ligands which hamper accurate quantification of ligand binding especially in the MTL as this study focusses on tau burden in this region.


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

A person meets the general entry requirements for third-cycle studies if 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

A person meets the specific entry requirements for third-cycle studies 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 experience of PET and MRI, and in medical imaging work is of value, as well as experience in programming in MATLAB, R and Python. A background of statistical data analysis is desirable as well as good knowledge of English at scientific level. Great emphasis will be placed on personal qualities and suitability.


Time limited employment (temporary), 4 years. Extent: 100%. Location: Sahlgrenska Academy, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry. First day of employment: as agreed.

Regulations for employment of doctoral students are given in SFS 1998:80. Only those who are admitted to third-cycle studies may be appointed to doctoral studentships. Those appointed to doctoral studentships shall primarily devote themselves to their studies. They may, however, work to a limited extent with educational tasks, research and administration according to the regulations.

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. The total employment period may not exceed the time corresponding to full-time third-cycle studies for four years.

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

For further information regarding the position

For more information about the project please contact the project supervisor Michael Schöll, michael.scholl@neuro.gu.se


Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg: 

How to apply

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system. Attach verified copies of your education and English proficiency proving your eligibility. 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. The selection of candidates is made on the basis of the qualifications registered in the application.

Closing date 2018-12-17

Diary id: PAR 2018/1629
The University of Gothenburg promotes equal opportunities, equality and diversity.

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

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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