Information on NTNU Health's opportunities for funding.

Call for proposals for PhD projects:

Innovative solutions for more sustainable healthcare

NTNU Health and the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (MH) have up to 12 PhD positions available for projects that aim to contribute to better sustainability in healthcare.

Application deadline: 16.10.2022
Workshop date: 19.09.2022

Who can apply?

The project leader must be a permanent scientific employee at NTNU. Two of the positions will be available for projects hosted at other faculties than MH, while the rest are reserved for projects hosted by MH. Applications can include a named candidate for the PhD position (in which case a CV for the candidate must be included), but applications without specified candidates are equally received and evaluated.

About the call

One of NTNU’s strategic goals is to strengthen NTNU’s role as a provider of knowledge and competence that contributes to sustainable development and sustainable solutions. With this call for proposals, the strategic research area NTNU Health and the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences aim to direct focus on our responsibility to provide new knowledge and innovations that contribute to a sustainable development and future health care solutions that are sustainable. We encourage interdisciplinary collaborations and to include collaboration with public service and private actors in the projects.

NTNU Health and the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences is organizing a workshop on sustainable healthcare the 19th of September for researchers interested in this specific call. All who intend to apply are strongly encouraged to attend the workshop.

More information on the workshop


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. The Sustainable Developments Goals cover all aspects of human life and development, reaching from health, education and the environment to peace, justice, security, and equality. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

The concept of sustainability rests on the three pillars: the economy, society, and the environment. Sustainable development, according to the 2030 Agenda, involves an urgent and intentional transformation of the society, environment, and economy, to be able to ensure human well-being, societal health and limited environmental impact. Achieving that transformation means carefully considering the interactions between goals and targets since interpreting and solving single problems often lead to more problems and counter-act the solving of others. The individual goals are not interesting in themselves, but rather the interactions between the goals. Sustainability is a process, where you have to maximize the synergies for human well-being and at the same time reduce the costs and consequences for the environment. To ensure a sustainable development, there is a need for a systematic approach to identify and manage the trade-offs while maximizing co-benefits.

In addition, new partnerships are needed within research, by involving affected groups and communities to recognize problems and goals, and to identify key trade-offs. In particular, more direct collaboration between scientists, policymakers, civil society, and businesses is needed to address ecological and social crises.

Sustainable healthcare

The sustainability development goal number 3, “Good health and well-being”, reflects the need for people to live healthy lives with perceived well-being in order to thrive and prosper. Looking at the 13 targets for 2030, Norway is well positioned to achieve this goal. However, from a global perspective much work remains to achieve these targets, and an important contribution from the Norwegian society to achieve global sustainability is to help the rest of the world reach these targets – in line with goal number 10 “Reduce inequities within and among countries”. An important dilemma is also that the achievement of these goals in Norway currently have severe negative impacts on other sustainability goals, especially climate, and environment in the oceans and on land through its consumption of resources, products and need for infrastructure and buildings.

Furthermore, for Norway as a society and for the developed world, we face other challenges to ensure a population with good health and well-being than those described in the UN targets for Agenda 2030. With an aging population, new treatment possibilities and high demands and expectations towards the quality of health care provided, our current universal health care system is at risk of collapsing in the near future due to increasing costs and resource demand combined with reduced availability of resources and inadequate supply of competent healthcare workers. With this also follows the risk that healthcare will look different for people depending on status and resources. Sustainable healthcare means equal availability of and access to healthcare for all, whether rich or poor, whether living in a city or living in the countryside. It also means ending bias in health care access, diagnosis and treatment based on gender, disabilities, and ethnicity, among others.

To ensure a healthcare system that is sustainable for the future, we need innovative solutions that lead to less costly, less resource demanding, more environmentally friendly, more socially just healthcare with high quality. This requires new knowledge and innovations that can contribute to systemic transformations through taking into account the complexity of the healthcare system and its interaction with society and nature.

Health is an important dimension in almost all Sustainability research, and Sustainability is an important dimension of all Health research. Thus, the results of a research project will most probably benefit one particular goal while simultaneously negatively impacting one or several others. The sustainability dimension of a research project should therefore involve identifying and describing any such dilemmas by analyzing how the implementation of the project and the subsequent use of the project results may positively or negatively affect the sustainability dimensions/goals.

Requirements for the project application

The projects must aim to contribute with new knowledge that can make healthcare more sustainable for the future. The project may focus on one or more of the sustainability dimensions (economy, society, or environment), but the project proposal must address possible impacts on all dimensions and how it can contribute to a systemic transformation. The proposal must describe any interdisciplinary and international collaboration, and how it involves and interacts with stakeholders in society and the healthcare sector. The project must be of high quality and must be possible to conduct within the timeframe of a PhD (3 years). The resources needed for the project must be accounted for in the proposal and in the budget.

There will be 1 PhD position (3 years) awarded to each project. However, it is possible to apply for multiple, linked projects. In the case of linked projects, their relationship and interdependencies must be described in the applications. The projects must not be dependent on each other to the extent that they are not able to be carried out on their own.

The awarded projects will not receive operational costs beyond the funds that accompany the PhD position(s). The need for additional operational costs must be covered by the involved department/faculty or other funds. The project’s ability to be carried out within the given timeframe and available resources will be emphasized.

The project proposal must be written using a template (download the template here). The proposal must be limited to max 7 pages + front page (Times New Roman, 11 points, 2 cm margins) and must be written in English. The template includes all elements also included in the evaluation of the proposals. It is therefore important that all parts are completed in the given order. The project proposal shall consist of the following parts:

  1. State of the art, knowledge needs and objectives
  2. Research questions, hypotheses, methodology and approach
  3. Potential impact
  4. Implementation
  5. Budget
  6. References

The proposal must describe all resources necessary for the successful completion of the project. In the budget, operational costs for SO-positions, laboratory costs and other running costs must be specified in accordance with normal budgeting praxis at the faculty. The budget must specify what is covered by own financing, financing through SO-positions and other funding.

The project proposal must be sent by e-mail labelled «Application Sustainable Healthcare» to within midnight 16.10.2022. CVs (max 4 pages per person) for the project partners involved must be attached.

Project proposals will be evaluated by an internal committee based on Excellence, Impact and Implementation in accordance with the criteria described below. The ranking of the proposals will be based on the evaluation, but the final prioritization will also consider the desire for a broad distribution of projects across departments.

We expect a decision on awarded projects at the latest by 15.12.2022. Projects are expected to start at the earliest in spring 2023 and at the latest by the end of 2023.

Do you have questions about this call?

Contact the leader of NTNU Health, Marius Widerøe ( or Senior Adviser Liv Eggset Falkenberg ( for questions regarding the call.


Evaluation criteria

Research quality/ Excellence

  • To what extent does the project proposal address challenges related to creating more sustainable healthcare?
  • How well does the project proposal address the sustainability dimensions: economy, society, environment?
  • How good is the quality of the research questions and project objectives?
  • How original, innovative, and ambitious is the project?
  • To what extent is the approach, choice of methods and planned execution interdisciplinary, credible, and suited for reaching the project objectives?
  • To what extent have the risks, uncertainties, and ethical issues been addressed?


  • To what extent is the project suited to provide knowledge and innovation that contribute to a more sustainable healthcare?
  • How well is the project’s impact on all sustainability dimensions (economy, society, and environment) addressed?
  • To what extent does the project meet other important scientific and societal challenges?
  • How good are the plans for translating project results into meaningful impact and how can the results contribute to systemic transformation?


  • To what extent have the project participants the competence, experience, and ability to carry out the project with high quality?
  • To what extent is interdisciplinarity and international collaboration represented in the project?
  • To what extent are relevant partnerships and interactions with stakeholders in society and healthcare a part of the project?
  • Is the implementation of the project realistic within the given resources and timeframe?
  • Is sustainability addressed and taken care of in the implementation and carrying out of the project and afterwards? This includes environmental footprint, equality, open science, reuse of data etc.