Training in the Neuroscience Program combines a broad interdisciplinary curriculum with advanced electives that prepare trainees for intense thesis work in specific research areas. This includes coursework that exposes them to all subdisciplines of neuroscience within the first two years, including translational and clinical aspects, professional skills, and robust quantitative training.

During this time, students also rotate through the diverse laboratories and receive hands-on training in a variety of techniques and approaches. Complementing this training are multiple specific journal clubs, each facilitated by senior faculty, that expose students to the latest research within different subdisciplines.

Research Training in State-of-the-Art Approaches in Neuroscience

Although the course work, seminars, journal clubs, and tutorials are vital aspects of a student's education, the Neuroscience Program recognizes that the most critical part of training is laboratory research. Our students can choose from laboratories whose research focuses on Cognition and Memory, Sensory Systems and Integration, Neurobiology of Addiction, and Neurological Disorders as described above. While specific faculty research interest are provided on individual websites, within each of the broad categories listed, research projects span all levels of organization from molecular and cellular to systems and behavior.

During the first year of training, the student rotates through 2-3 laboratories of her/his choice. Each laboratory research rotation lasts approximately the length of the semester.

As soon as students are offered the invitation to join the program, we encourage them to contact individual faculty members to discuss research opportunities in the laboratory. The program Director and Associate Director help students with these initial contacts. Students are encouraged to talk with several faculty members regarding lab research because we believe that interesting research experiences during your first year can lead to the judicious selection of a faculty advisor for the PhD thesis research.

Once they have matched with a thesis lab and mentor (typically within two rotations), students start designing their thesis project. At this point, they have been exposed to a spectrum of subjects, perspectives, and techniques, and are ready to dive more deeply into a specific issue. Their home laboratory provides them with much of the additional advanced training that is necessary. However, because many laboratories require the same advanced competencies, we offer a series of advanced elective courses that provide formal instruction on select issues. Additional courses provided by subdiscipline-specific training grants are also available. Students are counseled, guided, and mentored throughout their training experience by multiple faculty, catching and remediating problems as soon as they occur, and steering students in directions that best-fit their drive and interests. As our Outcomes indicate, this program produces outstanding graduates.

Teaching and Outreach

While preparation for a research career in the Neurosciences is the central focus of our program, we also ensure students gain experience in teaching and outreach, and exposure to an increasing number of opportunities in the industry in which scientists with the training we provide go on to be extraordinarily successful. These additional experiences not only expand students’ competencies and enhance their opportunities for highly impactful careers, they encourage them to maintain broad interests and open them to collaborative pursuits; e.g., in pursuing translational/clinical directions (e.g., with a Clinical, Population and Translational Science (CPTS) certificate or MS in Health Disparities in Neuroscience Disorders (HDND)) or collaborations with industry (e.g., PhD/MBA program, commercialization and tech transfer elective courses, Industry internships.

Alumni Network

Our graduates have been successful in pursuing careers in academia and industry. We have established an Alumni Network for the program. To facilitate exchange we maintain a directory of alumni that is available as a resource to current students.

Other Professional Opportunities

Students who have advanced to candidacy have the opportunity to participate in several Career Development activities with permission of the Thesis Advisor and Program Director. These opportunities include teaching experience, the joint PhD/MBA program and internships.