Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine

Umeå University is one of Sweden’s largest higher education institutions with over 37,000 students and about 4,700 employees. The University offers a diversity of high-quality education and world-leading research in several fields. Notably, the groundbreaking discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, which was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was made here. At Umeå University, everything is close. Our cohesive campuses make it easy to meet, work together and exchange knowledge, which promotes a dynamic and open culture.

The ongoing societal transformation and large green investments in northern Sweden create enormous opportunities and complex challenges. For Umeå University, conducting research about – and in the middle of – a society in transition is key. We also take pride in delivering education to enable regions to expand quickly and sustainably. In fact, the future is made here.

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The Faculty of Medicine, which consists of 13 departments, is responsible for biomedical research and courses in the field of nursing and health care and has an extensive research and graduate education in more than 80 subjects.

This appointment is a part of a strategic initiative from the Faculty of Medicine and aims to stimulate innovative and interdisciplinary research. The appointment is a full-time, fixed-term position for two years and aims to, among others, study the pupillary light reflex (PLR) and other eye related mechanisms. The application deadline is 16th of April 2023. 

The postdoctoral position is available in the laboratory of Prof. Lena Gunhaga at Umeå Centre for Molecular Medicine (UCMM) at the University of Umeå, Sweden, in collaboration with the Associated Professors/Senior Consultants Berit Byström and Gauti Johannesson at the Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Ophthalmology, Umeå University. 

Description of the project

In the mammalian eye, the iris sphincter muscle regulates the size of the pupil, which in turn controls the influx of light to the retina. Traditionally, the pupillary light reflex (PLR) has been considered a brain-mediated reflex. More recent data from animal studies show that the iris can intrinsically respond to light to regulate the PLR independent of signals from the brain. Our recent publication has presented new mechanisms regulating, among others, synchronized pupil dilation and contraction in mouse (Sghari et al., 2020), but more details remain to be defined. Thus, the main focus of this project is to understand molecular mechanisms that control light dependent regulation of the PLR, but also other eye related mechanisms and its possible relation to eye diseases are of interest to understand.

Work responsibilities

The applicant will study how various light quality affects the PLR, also in relation to the molecular composition of tissues in the anterior segment of the eye, with the possibility to examine wild type and specific knock-out mouse lines,. The applicant will also have the possibility to participate in clinical eye studies with special focus on diseases in the front part of the eye. Methods will include; in vitro PLR recordings in mouse, design and evaluate PLR recordings, mouse genetic analysis, eye dissections and tissue culture, as well as evaluation of clinical data. The study also includes statistical and image analyses, as well as writing scientific manuscripts.


A person who has been awarded a doctorate in the subject of ophthalmology, physiology, molecular- or developmental- biology, or similar is eligible for appointment as postdoctoral researcher. This eligibility requirement must be met no later than the time at which the appointment decision is made. Both clinical and non-clinical PhD’s within these research fields will be taken into consideration. 

A thorough theoretical and practical knowledge regarding the structure and biology of the eye from cell to tissue level is a prerequisite. The applicant should have practical experience of laborative studies. The applicant must be proficient in written and spoken English, and have good computer skills (Word, Photoshop, Excel or similar).

Additional useful qualifications 

Since appointment as a postdoctoral researcher is a career-development position for junior researchers, we are primarily interested in applicants who completed their doctoral degree no more than three years before the application deadline. If there are special reasons, an applicant who has completed their degree earlier than that may be considered. Special reasons include absence due to illness, parental leave, clinical practice, appointments of trust for a trade union organisation or other similar circumstances, and for relevant duties/assignments within the subject area.

Knowledge within the fields of ion signalling and/or photoreceptors is an advantage. Practical experience with studies of the eye, either clinically or using mouse as a model system, is also an advantage. Of importance is also the candidate’s independence, ability to work in a team, as well as their organizational and problem-solving skills.

More information about the position

The appointment is a full-time, fixed-term position for two years in accordance with the terms of contract for fixed-term employment as a postdoctoral researcher. 

Starting date: As soon as possible in agreement.


More information about the research group of Prof. Lena Gunhaga: 

and about Umeå Centre for Molecular Medicine (UCMM):



The application must include:

·       A brief description of your research interests and a statement describing why you are interested in the position. (Max 1 page)

·       CV, including list of methods that the applicant master.

·       Complete list of publications

·       Degree certificate from doctoral studies and other relevant degrees

·       Contact details of two reference persons with stated professional relationship with the applicant.


The application must be written in Swedish or English. The application must be submitted via Umeå University’s e-recruitment system Varbi and must be received latest 16th of April 2023. 


We look forward to receiving your application.

Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-334-23
  • Lena Gunhaga, 090-7866817
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-7865365
  • SEKO, 090-7865296
  • ST, 090-7865431
Published 23.Feb.2023
Last application date 16.Apr.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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