Cognition and neuroscience of Primary Adrenal Insufficiency

We are looking for a master student with a background in cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology or a related field to assist us with the analyses of MRI data in a project on rare endocrine diseases at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. In this project we are investigating cognitive functioning, brain structure and brain function in individuals with primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI), caused by congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) and autoimmune Addison’s disease (AAD). Our main interest is to study brain health in these rare endocrinological diseases.

Your function. You will be assisting us with the analyses of MRI data using a multimodal approach, which will result in at least one or more scientific publications. As we are also starting up a new imaging project we may ask you to assist in MRI scanning of participants.

Your profile. We are looking for somebody who is pursuing a master in cognitive neuroscience or a related field, with a keen interest in research and the ambition to pursue a career in academia. Experience with programming and MRI analyses are preferred. The project focuses on the intersection between hormones, brain and behaviour, so an interest in that field would be a plus.

Our group. You will be working in a clinical research environment in a group with both medical and neuroimaging expertise. The group is led by Professor Svetlana Lajic, medical doctor in pediatric endocrinology. You will be supervised by a post-doc in the group who has a background in cognitive neuroscience and is experienced in MRI scanning and analyses.

Duration and location. Ideally we would like you to join us for at least half a year. You will be working at Karolinska Institutet.

More about primary adrenal insufficiency (PAI). In short, PAI results in lack of cortisol and aldosterone production from the adrenal glands, and either increased (in CAH) or reduced (in AAD) adrenal androgen production. Cortisol and aldosterone are replaced by oral medication, but this replacement is suboptimal, as it is difficult to replicate the natural hormonal secretion patterns. Because of the known widespread effects of cortisol on the brain, in addition to a myriad of other consequences of having PAI, it is expected that the brain is also affected in these diseases. In our project we aim to identify problems with cognition and investigate if brain structure and function are affected in these patients, by using standardized cognitive testing and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

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