Call for applications / PhD in cancer biology

29.4.2021 | Avoimet työpaikat


The Cancer Biology laboratories of Klaus Elenius and Kari Kurppa are looking for a doctoral candidate to join a collaborative project.

Research Project

The two laboratories, led by the principal investigators Professor Klaus Elenius, MD/PhD and Dr. Kari J. Kurppa, PhD, aim to develop novel means to specifically target cancer cell signaling and drug resistance. Our special interest lies in the mechanisms that enable the establishment of minimal residual disease, or govern the maintenance of residual tumors following targeted cancer therapy. The overarching goal of our research is to develop rational combination strategies that will extend the long-term efficacy of clinically used cancer therapies.

Clinical drug resistance is often preceded by minimal residual disease state, where residual tumors stay dormant for an extended period of time. It is becoming increasingly evident that the establishment of minimal residual disease is mainly regulated by non-genetic mechanisms, as cancer cells adapt to treatment by acquiring new phenotypic states that no longer depend on the targeted oncogene. Recent research in our laboratories has demonstrated that a ligand/receptor axis composed of ERBB receptors and their ligands is a key regulator of cancer cell drug tolerance. The doctoral candidate’s research will build upon these findings and address the mechanisms of ERBB activation upon targeted therapy. The project also includes a drug development arm aiming at developing a novel inhibitor to specifically block the ERBB-mediated drug tolerance pathway. The approach takes advantage of the long experience of the Elenius lab in the cancer biology and targeting of the ERBB receptors, as well as of the unique understanding of the Kurppa lab of the molecular mechanisms underlying tumor dormancy and drug tolerance.


Successful applicants should have a MSc or equivalent degree in a relevant field. Excellent academic performance and knowledge of written and spoken English are required. Prior experience on systems and basic laboratory methodologies in the field of biomedicine, e.g. in vitro cancer model and omics analyses, is desired. The applicant should demonstrate the skills needed in the research area (e.g. from MSc thesis work) and motivation for doctoral studies.

The applicant should familiarize with pension insurance and taxation regulations for recipients of scientific grants and scholarships. The doctoral candidate is expected to enroll in a PhD program in the next call.


The research of the doctoral candidates will be initially funded for a period of three years by Cancer Foundation Finland by monthly personal grants.

How to apply

>> Link to application form

Please, include in your application a motivation letter and a CV with at least two references.

The deadline for applications is May 3, 2021 (11:59 PM UTC+3). Preferable starting date is May 17, 2021, but due to the COVID-19 situation, the starting date is negotiable.

For any inquiries, please contact Klaus Elenius, klaus.elenius[a]utu.fi or Kari Kurppa, kjkurp[a]utu.fi.

Doctoral student, Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

8.4.2021 | Avoimet työpaikat


The North changes the world – more sustainable, more intelligent, more humane. We, at the University of Oulu, work as part of the international science community to produce new scientific information and science-based solutions. We are committed to educate future pioneers to build a more sustainable, intelligent and humane world. Creating new, taking responsibility and succeeding together are values that build a strong foundation for all our actions. We offer a working environment where individuals can cultivate their skills, do meaningful work, and develop professionally. Our university’s several specialized research and service units enable extensive and diverse development and career opportunities for experts in various fields.

We are looking for a Doctoral student in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine for a part-time (50%), fixed-term two-year position at the University of Oulu at the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine.


This research project focuses on the interplay between hypoxia signalling, metabolism and fibrosis. The selected student will work under supervision of professors Peppi Karppinen and Terhi Piltonen. The aim of the project is to reveal the causality and relations between these pathways using the sex-hormone driven polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as a disease model. This is a common syndrome in women affecting about 10% the female population. Fibrosis in liver, ovary and adipose tissue is associated with PCOS and may contribute to high comorbidity among affected women. Our main interests are the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) and its regulating HIF prolyl 4-hydroxylases. We use mainly molecular and cell biology methods as well as gene-modified mice and preclinical disease models to understand how these pathways interact. This is a project with multidisciplinary approach aiming to answer important clinical questions. We offer a research environment with excellent technological facilities and a motivating and supporting community. More information can be found on our web pages:




To successfully occupy the position, the candidate must possess a degree entitling them to obtain a doctoral degree (MSc or equivalent) preferably in the field of biochemistry, molecular or cell biology, medical sciences or related fields. Degree must have been completed before starting the position and must not be obtained more than 5 years ago. License to conduct animal experiments within the EU is required (proven by a course diploma showing competence according to EU Directive 2010/63, Article 23). Prior experience on animal experiments, preclinical disease models and knowledge on molecular and cellular biology as well as histological and imaging methods are an advantage. Ability to pursue independent research, work productively in a team as well as excellent writing and fluency in English are expected.

When assessing the applicant’s qualifications, issues to be considered will include study grades, research experience, possible scientific publications, activity in the scientific community, familiarity with the research field and teamwork skills. The applicant is expected to actively take part in co-applying for funding during the two-year period.

The applicant will be enrolled to University of Oulu Graduate School, so the applicant must fulfill the requirements for admission: https://www.oulu.fi/uniogs/requirements_for_admission .

What we offer

  • You will become a part of a highly talented research group, working on strategically and globally significant research area
  • You will receive support not only from your team and supervisor, but also from university´s wide variety of support services, so that you can excel in your studies and research.
  • The salary will be in accordance with the Finnish universities salary system (for teaching and research personnel): level 2. In addition, a salary component based on personal work performance will be paid (maximum of 50 % of the job-specific component). Further information regarding the salary can be asked from professor Karppinen and professor Piltonen. 
  • Other benefits: The successful candidate will receive full benefits provided by the University of Oulu to university employees, including free time corresponding to holidays and free occupational health care services.


Applications must be submitted using the electronic application form by April 11, 2021 (23:59 Finnish local time), with the following attachments as three separate pdf files:

1)      Complete CV containing contact information of at least two referees (Max. size limit of the attachment: 5 Mbytes)

2)      Motivation letter describing prior knowledge and research interests and career plans (maximum 1 page).

3)      Certificates/Diplomas: Scanned electronic copies of diplomas and transcripts of the records of relevant previous degrees. If the original documents are not in English, Finnish or Swedish, each document must be accompanied by an official certified translation into English or Finnish. (Max. size limit of the attachment: 2 Mbytes). Additionally, a certificate of sufficient language skills in English and/or Finnish are required for those who have not completed a secondary or higher education degree in the Finnish language (more info, see: https://www.oulu.fi/uniogs/requirements_for_admission, 4. Language skills)

Applications sent by email will not be considered.

Other relevant information

The eligible applicants fitting best in the research profile expected for the position may be invited to an on-site or remote interview. All applicants will be notified when the selection process is completed. The earliest start date is 3rd of May 2021. A trial period of six months is applied in the position. 

For Further Information Contact:  

Prof. Peppi Karppinen, e-mail: peppi.karppinen (at) oulu.fi

Prof. Terhi Piltonen, e-mail: terhi.piltonen (at) oulu.fi